Julia Roberts Explains Her Hairy Armpits At ‘Notting Hill’ Premiere

Julia Roberts appears in a pink shirt against a green wall
Rich Fury / Getty Images

When Julia Roberts appeared at the 1999 premiere of the classic romantic comedy Notting Hill with hairy armpits, people went crazy. Nearly 20 years later, the actress revealed to Busy Philipps exactly why she showed up on the red carpet without cleanly-shaven pits, according to Entertainment Tonight.

Roberts appeared on the new Busy Philipps show Busy Tonight on Sunday to promote her new Amazon thriller Homecoming. Philipps asked her about the moment when Roberts stepped out in front of cameras to expose her hairy ‘pits, wondering if it was perhaps a feminist statement.

“Also just because of feminism, I’m always thinking about these things – you know, you rocked the hairy armpit at the Notting Hill premiere, and you never really said if that was like a statement,” Philipps said.

At the time, rumors swirled after Roberts appeared at the premiere, with people speculating that the Notting Hill star’s then-boyfriend Benjamin Bratt demanded she go au naturel. Others said perhaps she had a skin disorder that made shaving uncomfortable. Roberts said at the time that she just forgot to shave, which sparked rumors that she was making a feminist statement.

The actress told Philipps that it was nothing so calculated. She simply didn’t figure how the short sleeves on the sparkly red dress that she wore would expose her armpit when she waved at the cameras.

“I think I just hadn’t really calculated my sleeve length and the waving and how those two things would go together and reveal personal things about me,” she admitted. “So it wasn’t so much a statement as it’s just part of the statement I make as a human on the planet.”

Roberts has appeared unshaven several times since the incident on the red carpet, including one time in 2010 when she was caught on the beach by the paparazzi with unshaven armpits.

The actress, who rocketed to stardom and became “America’s sweetheart” with the 1990 film Pretty Woman, is taking on television with her role as a caseworker who helps soldiers who have returned from war. The psychological thriller was adapted from a podcast and released on Amazon last week to positive reviews.

“The performances are terrific, Esmail is brilliant director of television, and there’s good reason to believe this may just be the show Amazon will use to mark its drama brand, the same way it’s used The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel to boost its comedy brand, said NPR.

Robert’s performance has also received positive reviews.

“Roberts gives the most striking performance, flattening her natural charisma and absorbing her character’s feelings until she’s almost unrecognizable,” said the Atlantic.