Julia Roberts may have been America’s sweetheart, but she was anything but a sweetheart to her sister, Nancy Motes. Following Nancy’s tragic end in 2014, lots of controversies would follow regarding Roberts’s true character.
Julia Roberts is well-known for her role in the 1990 American romantic comedy film “Pretty Woman.” She has, over the years, made her impact in the industry by appearing in some of the most sought-after roles in Hollywood.
But away from the big silver screens, Roberts wears many other hats. She is a wife, married to Danny Moder since 2002. She is also a mother of three children, Phinnaeus, Henry, and Hazel.
Left: Julia Roberts on Variety| Source: YouTube/Variety Right: Nancy Motes headstone | Source: Twitter/John Dilbeck
The “Wonder” star is also a sister to Eric Roberts, an actor with over 630 acting credits to his name, among them “The Expendables,” The Specialist,” “Stalked By My Doctor,” and “The Dark Knight.”
Her sister Lisa is also in the business and is well known for her roles in “The Call Back,” “I Love Trouble,” and “Sex and the City.” But besides acting, she is also a producer on hit shows like “Jesus Henry Christ” and “Extraordinary Moms.”
Roberts’ third sibling is Nancy Motes, her half-sister born to mother Betty Lou and Michael Motes. Despite her siblings’ popularity and inevitable spotlight, Nancy chose a life away from the cameras for most of her life.
Julia Roberts at the "August: Osage County" premiere at Ziegfeld Theater on December 12, 2013 in New York City | Photo: Getty Images
THE DEVASTATING END FOR NANCY
In 2014, Nancy took her own life, overdosing on both prescription and nonprescription pills, as the Los Angeles County Coroner reported. She was 39 at the time of her passing.
She departed, leaving behind a note that would cause controversy for years to follow. In the letter, she referred to her sister, the “Pretty Woman” star, as a bully, among other unpalatable words.
The letter was divided into three sections. One part addressed to her fiancee, a second to Roberts and their mother Betty, and a third section to “everybody.”
In the letter that shocked everyone, both celebrities, and fans, Nancy claimed that she had been suffering from depression for many years. Still, her sister’s cruelty had driven her to the worst and most profound depression she’s ever experienced.
In the emotional, handwritten note, Nancy referred to Roberts as her “so-called” sibling. She painfully added that Roberts should receive nothing from Nancy’s estate in the event of her passing, except for the memory that she was the cause of her demise.
Following her death, her fiance and his family got into a bitter legal battle. Roberts and Betty were looking to gain control over Nancy’s estate.
John and his brother Connor said that the fight over Nancy’s property was a perfect example of how controlling Roberts was and emphasized how she’d always tried manipulating Nancy’s life.
Further down in the note, Nancy continued to express her disregard for her superstar sister, a reflection of posts she’d made on Twitter, only a little while before she died.
In one such tweet, she expressed how much of a bully Roberts was. As if challenging her followers, she asked them why they were fans of such a cruel person - referring to Roberts. Another tweet stated that her own family had abandoned her.
ADDRESSING HER FIANCE
In the section addressed to John, Nancy heaped praises on him, referring to him as her one true love and wondering if she was ever worthy of his love.
She also noted that if anything were ever to happen to her, John would be receiving all of her possessions, including custody to her dog, Lucy.
She remorsefully pointed out that she was aware that her death would affect him the most and that she couldn’t apologize enough. She said she’d been fortunate and blessed to have had him as his love and best friend.
Ending the note, Nancy declared that she would carry John with her forever and closed with an “I am so sorry.” In an exclusive interview with Inside Edition, John’s brother, Connor, shed some light on the troubled relationship between the sisters.
Their relationship is said to have been for a long time estranged but was severed when Nancy allegedly sold a story to the tabloids of how Roberts often teased her about her weight.
Roberts is alleged to have bullied her sister and that Nancy was often tortured by what Connor says were calls from Roberts fat-shaming her. He added:
“Julia Roberts didn’t want to have a fat sister.”
Nancy lived her life, modest as it was, intimidated by her sister’s celebrity status, and as such, she often felt inadequate. This is why in 2010, she underwent gastric bypass surgery and lost 145 pounds.
John also claimed that Roberts had begun denying Nancy access to their mother in the past years, especially after Betty was diagnosed with cancer.
ROBERTS TRIED TO HELP HER SISTER
Roberts, despite the accusations, still tried lending a helping hand to her estranged sister. For instance, when Nancy relocated to Hollywood, Roberts got her a production assistant job on Glee using her connections.
Despite the animosity between them, Connor does admit that the job was a dream to Nancy, and she loved working there. He also admits that Roberts had tried getting Nancy into rehab.
Speaking with Inside Edition, Psychologist Jeff Gardere attributed Nancy’s troubled life to her inability to live in her sister’s shadow, saying it is, unfortunately, a major challenge to many people with megastar siblings.
Following her sister's demise, Roberts spoke to WSJ, reporting how much heartbreak they were going through. She said that they were devastated but just had to keep looking ahead.
Danny Moder and Julia Roberts attend the 3rd annual Sean Penn & Friends HELP HAITI HOME Gala benefiting J/P HRO presented by Giorgio Armani at Montage Beverly Hills on January 11, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California. | Source: Getty Images.
Six years after Nancy was laid to rest, John came forward to claim that even so many years after his fiancee’s demise, Roberts never did show remorse or sadness following her death. Opening up about the real reason the sisters never got along, he says:
“Julia was always giving Nancy hell because Nancy was Betty’s favorite child, she took care of her, and there’s no amount of fame or money, which could change that.”
He claimed, in 2020, that Roberts had never acknowledged Nancy’s existence, just as she didn’t when Nancy was alive. He called it a typical case of “Out of sight, out of mind.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.
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