LOS ANGELES – With only weeks to go before she's expected to deliver twins, Julia Roberts (search) is indeed "showing." But would she show?
That was the burning question at Monday night's world premiere of "Closer," (search) veteran director Mike Nichols' (search) screen adaptation of the award-winning stage play about two couples dealing with seriously complicated matters of the heart.
Despite Roberts' inclusion on the studio's list of attendees, the superstar actress was a no-show. Producers Cary Brokaw and John Calley explained that Roberts simply opted to stay home on behalf of her own health as well as that of her unborn children.
"She's got to be very cautious," noted Calley, who said he had spoken to Roberts earlier in the day.
It was suggested that Roberts could have been wheeled into the event, a la Hannibal Lechter in "The Silence of the Lambs."
"On a gurney," injected Calley with a laugh. Brokaw was more serious, noting that all involved with the film had been optimistic that Roberts, 37, would attend the premiere. "But, apparently, it was just too much," he said.
Roberts was admitted to the hospital with contractions in late October and had been advised to take bed rest. Her twins (with husband Daniel Moder) are a boy and a girl due January 5.
Roberts' costars did what they could to take up the superstar slack. The ubiquitous Jude Law, suave and sexy in a retro plum velour jacket, looked as if he'd just stepped off the set of his current film "Alfie," which happened to be playing in the theater directly across the street.
He said his new movie, which opens Dec. 3, "lays out the cards of how we fall in and fall out of relationships, and it looks at the run of emotions that are kicked up by humans when they get involved in matters of the heart."
Patrick Marber wrote the film's script, based on his own Olivier-winning and Tony-nominated play. The original London cast included Clive Owen ("King Arthur") as the adulterous "Dan." But in the film, Law has that role and Owen plays the victimized Larry.
Owen joked that he would have played the doorman.
"To get a call seven, eight years later, Mike Nichols wants you to do the movie version, wants you to play the other part, it's a piece with four fantastic parts, and I was thrilled to just to be asked to be part of it."
Portman, coming off the art-house smash "Garden State," plays the enigmatic Alice, who strips down both physically and emotionally in the film. It's as raw as filmgoers have see her.
"This was really complicated to leave at work," Portman recalled. "I'm usually pretty good at going to work and coming home and being myself again ... but the issues this deals with are really strong."
The actress has wrapped work on "Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith," due in theaters in May 2005.
"It was much darker than the other two that we worked on," she said. "You can sort of piece it together, since it fits between episodes II and IV. Yeah, we worked very hard on it and I think it's great."
Law let out an exasperated chuckle when asked to comment on recently being named People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive."
"You know, it was a compliment," he said politely. "It was a great compliment. I don't take it massively seriously. I kind of enjoy and think of it as something quite fun, really."