The stunning Julia Roberts may be an Oscar-winning actress, but she still sometimes seeks reassurance with career choices. Wowed by R.J. Palacio’s Wonder — the inspiring story of a boy with a craniofacial condition — a few years ago, she ran the work by some of her most trusted advisers.

“I said to my kids, I’ve just read the most fantastic book,” she recalls of turning to her and cinematographer husband Danny Moder’s twins Hazel and Phinnaeus, now 13, and Henry, 10. “They all loved it. They were asking interesting questions. It just brought up a lot of good family conversations.”

Their enthusiasm led to more conversations with the producers who were hoping to turn the book into a film. “I said, ‘I would love to [play] the mom.’ It was a year later that we were all on the set shooting,” Julia adds of how she helped nudge the film’s production along. “That book affected her whole family,” a friend of Julia’s tells Closer, “and it was really important for her to do the film. It helped teach them all the importance of kindness and compassion.” The low-budget hit also made it clear to Julia, 50, that she’s at a wonderful time in her life and career. “She’s at a point where she doesn’t need the money and awards aren’t important,” the friend says. “Next to her family, acting is her passion and she knows she can just take things that interest her, challenge her, and that she loves.”

The road to this level of contentment wasn’t without its bumps. Julia’s sister Nancy Motes committed suicide in 2014 and, a year later, their mom, Betty Lou Motes, lost her battle with lung cancer. “Julia took a little bit of a break to regroup after those losses to grieve,” the friend says. “It taught her to value her family above everything else and to make spending time with Danny and the kids her priority.”

Recent tabloid reports of trouble in her 15-year marriage can’t even dampen her spirits. “Rumors used to annoy her,” the friend says, “but she’s immune to them now. She just jokes and says, ‘Looks like I’m divorcing Danny for the 46th time,’ keeping quiet and letting her marriage status do the talking.” The truth? “Their relationship is more solid than ever,” the friend adds. “He supports her a great deal. And when he’s working on a project, she’s the doting wife, praising him to everyone and visiting him on set with home-baked goodies.”

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Her kids can count on her support, too. “People at their school know Julia and love her because she participates in all the parent events,” the friend shares. “And she always considers what her children have planned in the months ahead before she signs up for a project.”

Her next film, Ben Is Back, is due out later this year, and her new Amazon series Homecoming will film in LA this spring, guaranteeing more quality time at home with Danny, 49, and the kids. “I love them unconditionally,” Julia gushes. “They all have a very keen sense of humor. I really hope they get that from me, because that’s what I tell everybody!”

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