Roberts signs autographs for fans outside the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre, where Three Days of Rain is playing
04/06/2006 AT 12:00 PM EDT
It's a fact: Even if you've been in more than 30 movies, even if you have an Oscar, even if you earn millions of dollars per picture and have traded onscreen smooches with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Richard Gere, you can still be just a kid from Smyrna, Ga., when you make your Broadway debut. Which is why, on a cold night in February, just before rehearsals for the play Three Days of Rain, a giddy Julia Roberts led the play's producer, Marc Platt, out in front of New York City's Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre so she could get her first look at the marquee. "It was a thrilling moment for Julia," says Platt, a longtime friend. "We looked at each other, and that smile lit up all of 45th Street – because she saw her dream coming true."
For the past year and a half, Roberts has pretty much reserved that megawatt smile for an audience of three: husband Danny Moder and their 16-month-old twins Hazel and Phinnaeus. After she became a mom in November 2004, Roberts, 38, found work that could accommodate a busy family schedule: appearing in the Dave Matthews Band video "Dreamgirl" last May, doing voice-overs for a pair of upcoming animated films and narrating Three Days in September, a documentary airing on Showtime May 25 about the 2004 Chechen terrorist attack on a Russian school. Nesting on her New Mexico ranch, Roberts spent her days tending to the kids, doing Pilates and knitting up a storm. "The kids bring her such a sense of fulfillment and joy," says Platt. "It's wonderful to see."