In Ticket to Paradise, Julia Roberts and her friend and frequent costar George Clooney play squabbling ex-spouses who fly to the tropics to prevent their daughter from getting hastily married. Filmed in Australia at the height of the pandemic, it was the longest time Julia had ever been away from her husband of 20 years, Danny Moder, and their children. 

“I don’t think I’ve spent that much time by myself since I was 25,” admits the actress, who says she felt “loneliness and despair” so far from home. Against all odds, Julia’s marriage to Danny, a cinematographer whom she met in 2000 on the set of The Mexican, has become one of Hollywood’s strongest and happiest unions. “I think that first kind of real… ‘seismic shift’ was meeting Danny,” says Julia, 55. “I’m more interested in what he has to say or his point of view more than anybody…. We just really, really like each other, and we just enjoy each other’s company.” 

While Danny is handsome enough to have been an actor himself, one of the reasons their relationship works so well is that he is not. The vanity, emotional neediness and self-centered traits Julia experienced with other people who share her profession aren’t a big part of Danny’s personality. 

“He’s stable, emotionally available, a great listener and has the biggest heart,” confides a friend. “He puts Julia and their family first. He is different from any other guy Julia has met or dated. He’s truly her knight in shining armor.” 

Julia Roberts and Danny Moder's Sweetest Quotes About Each Other
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But to find her prince, Julia had to kiss some frogs. One of the hardest things about her fame, which began in earnest when she was 23 and Pretty Woman became a colossal hit, was the pressure it put on her personal life. For many years, her romances, broken engagements, and one early marriage and divorce were breathlessly covered by the press. In addition to the pressure of the spotlight, acting jobs often made a normal relationship difficult. 

“Part of the reason why some of the relationships I’ve had in my past worked for so long is because when you’re making movies, a huge gap of time can pass when you don’t even see the person,” Julia admits. 

Julia still takes her career seriously, but by the time she met Danny, she was an Oscar winner who could pick and choose her projects. She became even more reluctant to spend time away from home for any work she wasn’t absolutely passionate about after their children, twins Finn and Hazel, 17, and Henry, 15, entered their lives. 

“Their family is everything,” says the friend of the pair. “And having children together only strengthened their bond.” 

Today, Julia, Danny and their kids split their time between a family home in San Francisco and properties in Malibu and Taos, New Mexico. “The life that I’ve built with my husband,” Julia says. “The life that we’ve built with our children, that’s the best stuff to come home to at the end of the day.”