Elizabeth Gilbert: Eat, Pray, Roll Camera
As her best-selling memoir hits the big screen, the globe-trotting author tells WebMD what it's like to be played by Julia Roberts (!), plus her best and worst health habits.
Editor's Note: Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Eat, Pray, Love, which came out in 2006, chronicled the author's physical and spiritual journey through Europe, India, and Southeast Asia after her painful divorce. The book stayed on the best-seller list for more than 155 weeks; the movie version opens in mid-August. WebMD the Magazine sent the acclaimed author questions recently -- about her relationships, her healthy-living philosophy, even her greatest fear -- and she wrote her responses, with the same insight, humor, and perspective that have made her books so popular.
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Q: Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia sold 7 million copies worldwide, and the highly anticipated movie based on your best-selling memoir hits theaters August 13, starring Julia Roberts. Why do you think the book touched a nerve with so many readers?
A: It's hard to know for sure why something like this goes viral, but -- from what I hear from readers -- it seems like the book has been a giant permission slip for a lot of women to allow themselves to ask questions about their own existence along the lines of "What happened to my joy?" and "What do I really want to do with my one wild and wonderful life?" The book seems to remind people of some divine and glorious aspect of themselves that they had forgotten to take care of as they moved through life -- or perhaps had never been taught how to take care of. And then slowly, delicately, they dare to explore that. I find it incredibly moving to be part of that exploration in other people's lives.
Q: What was your first reaction when you heard Julia Roberts would be playing you?
A: Slack-jawed wonderment. A sensation that has not yet passed, by the way.
Q: What self-revelation did you offer to help Roberts really "get" you on-screen?
A: I didn't offer her anything except permission to have fun inventing her own version of the character, and to feel free to run wild with it. I believe my exact words were: "Jump up and down on my story all day long if you wish -- it all belongs to you now."