Why didn’t Julia Roberts thank Erin Brockovich in her 2001 Oscar acceptance speech?

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Julia Roberts’ portrayal of Erin Brockovich in the eponymous movie is considered one of her best performances, earning her the Academy Award for Best Actress. However, during her acceptance speech at the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001, Roberts inadvertently omitted thanking the real-life Erin Brockovich.

In the film, Erin Brockovich is portrayed as a struggling single mother who, while working as a paralegal, uncovers and takes on a case against Pacific Gas and Electric for contaminating the groundwater in Hinkley with a carcinogenic chemical. The real Erin Brockovich played a central role in the events that inspired the movie.

During her emotional acceptance speech, Roberts thanked her family, the cast, crew, and producers of Erin Brockovich, giving a special mention to director Steven Soderbergh. However, she failed to acknowledge the real Erin Brockovich. After leaving the stage, Roberts reportedly apologized for the omission, attributing it to the overwhelming experience of winning the Oscar.

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In a statement to United Press International, Roberts expressed her regret, acknowledging the oversight: “I didn’t acknowledge her – shamefully, shamefully – and really, she’s the center of the universe which was our movie. With great humility, I apologize profusely.”

There were rumors at the time that Roberts intentionally avoided mentioning Erin Brockovich and PG&E due to the ongoing power crisis in California in March 2001. PG&E was facing financial difficulties related to suppliers’ market manipulation, leading to near-bankruptcy. Additionally, Erin Brockovich was involved in another lawsuit concerning a home she bought from actor Tom Selleck’s brother, Robert, which she claimed was filled with mold.

Erin Brockovich, however, expressed understanding and downplayed the incident, stating that she wasn’t affected by Roberts’ oversight. She mentioned that the moment was about Julia and that it didn’t bother her. Notably, Erin Brockovich did not attend the Oscars that evening because one of her children was unwell.