Work isn’t focus with Nancy Drew star’s famous kin
To say that Emma Roberts has acting in her genes would be an understatement. Her father, Oscar-nominated Eric (Runaway Train) and her aunt, Oscar-winner Julia, have been mainstays in Hollywood for almost three decades, the latter maintaining her status as one of the film world’s most bankable actresses. And now 16-year-old Emma, star of the smash hit Nickelodeon show Unfabulous and the film Aquamarine, hopes to follow in her famous family’s footsteps with her own film franchise as the titular character in the first instalment in the new Nancy Drew series.
The film follows the teenaged sleuth as she leaves her hometown of River Heights for Los Angeles, where she takes up residence, along with her widowed dad (Tate Donovan), in a rundown mansion once owned by fictitious movie starlet Dehlia Draycott.
But in true Nancy Drew fashion, there’s a mystery behind Draycott’s death that the part-time sleuth needs to solve.
So one would assume that Roberts’ A-list lineage would mean that family time is largely spent discussing the complexities of a life in show business.
Think again, the young star corrects.
“I don’t really talk to (Julia Roberts) or my dad about that kind of stuff,” Roberts says. “We kind of keep it separate. Everyone thinks that’s kind of weird but I have a lot of friends who have parents in the business and they say they don’t talk to them about it either. It’s not really something that comes up.”
No conversations focusing on career aspirations, personal branding, endorsement contracts?
“None at all, really.”
That would explain the method movie stars employ to try to keep their kids balanced and Roberts isn’t complaining.
Although her childhood in the limelight -- which began on film with a role in the 2001 film Blow -- undoubtedly has its pressures, Roberts seems unfazed by the attention.
Her choice to take on the role of the independent detective -- who was created in 1930 and has largely maintained popularity with mystery-loving kids ever since -- was influenced in part by the fact that the writers of the contemporary film didn’t alter the essence of the character’s personality.
“They did a really good job writing it because they kept the character the same as she was in the book so it wasn’t like people are going to be mad because we changed her so much,” says Roberts, who admits she had never read any of the books in the series prior to signing on.
That meant plenty of 1940s and '50s-era wardrobe for a teen not used to wearing post-war apparel. In this Nancy Drew outing, the outgoing teen sticks out at Hollywood High for dressing like she walked out of an episode of Leave It To Beaver.
Still, Roberts says the character has maintained her loyal readership over the decades because no matter what clothes she's wearing, what car she's driving or what town she lives in, Nancy Drew is all about solving mysteries and they simply never go out of fashion.
“I think she can fit into any generation, any time frame, any era, anything,” Roberts says. “She's not tied down to one particular time.”