That movie, of course, is Charlotte's Web. The film adaptation of the beloved children's book by E.B. White hits theaters December 15, 2006. In the film, Oprah lends her voice in a supporting role as Gussy, a goose. Julia voices the film's main character, Charlotte the spider. She took the role on only six weeks after having her twins!
Motherhood has had some unexpected surprises for Julia, too. "I guess I didn't realize that you could really just like your children as much as your friends, you know? I just enjoy interacting with them," Julia says. "I'm interested in their point of view."
Since becoming a mother, Julia says she's changed. "I definitely feel that I've expanded as a human being," she says. "I have more empathy and more compassion, I think, because I feel so blessed on a level that I can't even wrap my mind around really."
Now that she's a mother, Julia also says she can better appreciate her own mom, Betty. "I try to call her with more regularity because I think, 'God, what if Hazel didn't call me for two weeks?'" she says. "I'm able to see her mothering now from a different vantage point."
Julia also says being a mom has made her think more critically about global issues. She was recently featured on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine as part of the "Green Team," along with George Clooney, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Al Gore, to promote environmental awareness. "It's motherhood really urging my consciousness along into different places," she says. "What is the world going to be like for all of our children?"
Julia drives a hybrid car and even makes sure to recycle plastic grocery bags. "Reduce, reuse, recycle," Julia says. "Just like Jack Johnson sings in Curious George."
Julia is also involved in a program called School Bus America to try to get school buses across the country to switch from diesel fuel to biodiesel. "Our kids are inside those buses where it's so much more toxic and deadly," she says. "And it's so easy. All these buses can be changed over to biodiesel and vegetable oil."
Julia says Danny is "totally involved" with raising the twins. "He is our rock, our heart center of our family," Julia says.
In fact, Danny is the biggest thing Julia says she has in common with her son. "He is as in love with Danny as I am. So Danny walks in the house and we're pushing each other out of the way to get to him first," Julia says. "I love to have someone on the planet who understands how I feel when Danny walks in the door."
Dakota Fanning shines as Fern, the little girl who first saves Wilbur. Country star Reba McEntire and Academy Award® winner Kathy Bates play Betsy and Bitsy, two barnyard cows.
Actor Steve Buscemi turns in a stellar performance as Templeton, the greedy rat; and even screen legend Robert Redford lends his voice as Ike, the panicky horse.
Cedric the Entertainer whoops it up as Golly the gander, and Oprah plays Golly's wife, Gussy, a goose with a stuttering problem.
People have said Dakota's an old soul, but she doesn't see it that way. "I just think of myself as me, you know?" she says. "I love what I do and I am so lucky that I get to do it and that people enjoy it."
Born in Conyers, Georgia, Dakota's parents saw something special in their daughter right away. She learned to read at age 2 and started first grade when she was just 4 years old. She began acting at a local playhouse in preschool and landed a national Tide laundry detergent commercial one year later.
Dakota's big break came when she won the role of Lucy opposite Sean Penn in I Am Sam. Audiences fell in love with the 7-year-old instantly, and she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, making her the youngest ever to receive that honor.
Dakota's such a pro that Charlotte's Web director Gary Winick says having her on the set made his life easier. "She's so unbelievably truthful and connected to the experience and her character," he says. "That just inspires me. ... It's a gift."
Playing Fern on the big screen is a special role for Dakota because not only is Charlotte's Web one of her mom's favorite books, Fern is also her mom's favorite character. "The last fair scene I have the little yellow dress and the red ribbons," Dakota says. "And my mom was crying when she saw it on me because she had read the book so many times and seen that in there and to have me in the actual dress was really special."
After they arrived, however, the production endured the worst storm Melbourne had seen in 156 years. Flooding and an unexpected cold snap forced set designers to attach thousands of delicate green silk leaves to the suddenly bare trees.
Working with so many real animals was no trip to the zoo, either. The geese despised the other animals and kept biting the cows and sheep. All of their scenes had to be shot separately, sometimes with stand-in puppets. And it wasn't just the animals cast in the movie causing headaches. Wild snakes made their way into the barn and had to be rooted out every morning. Even the animated animals were a challenge.
In fact, one particular scene from Charlotte's Web took an amazing 41 days to complete.
After a breakout performance in the filmed standup ensemble The Original Kings of Comedy, Cedric became a household name after his role in the 2002 smash hit Barbershop.
In Charlotte's Web, Cedric plays Golly the gander, the henpecked husband of Oprah's stuttering goose, Gussy.
"I'm going to need the checkbook," Cedric jokes when he's reunited with his "wife," Oprah, on the show.
"You made me better because you're really good," Oprah says. "You were really good being henpecked."
Cedric says he and Lorna like to plan elaborate birthday parties for their children. Though Lucky's birthday is at the beginning of winter, that doesn't mean much in California where it's still hot, Cedric says. So for her third birthday, he says, "My wife had this idea and we kind of put it together and did this winter wonderland, literally in our front yard. It was snow and sleds. It was crazy."
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