Julia Roberts Talks ‘Ben Is Back’, Open Dinner-Table Conversation Policy With Her Kids

Julia Roberts is taking the Toronto International Film Festival by storm, screening not one, but two projects: the digital series “Homecoming” and her new film “Ben Is Back”.

ET Canada’s Sangita Patel got the chance to sit down with Roberts and her co-star Kathryn Newton to talk about the film, which focuses on the unexpected homecoming of a mother’s charming, yet troubled son.

Returning home from rehab unexpectedly on Christmas Eve, Ben, played by Lucas Hedges, divides his family and becomes a constant reminder of the damage and pain caused by his disease. For the 50-year-old actress who is a mom of two, the subject matter certainly hit close to home but nothing that she couldn’t cope with, telling Sangita:

“When you say it like that — ‘Do I get home and hug my kids?’ — I mean, for sure, a little tighter but I was also away from my family, which was really unusual so I think I was a little more clingy with this fair lady (Kathryn) and Lucas, they really just stood in for my kids back home.”

RELATED: Julia Roberts Reunites With Estranged Son In ‘Ben Is Back’ Teaser

The actress shares that it was the devastating California wildfires that made for an unexpectedly welcome visit.

“In California there were bad fires and schools were closed and so [my kids] came and stayed for a week and then it was even better because we’d all been together in California and now we were all together in New York,” she says. “I think that helped protect me from too much of the depletion of this character.”

Although the family drama draws from the opiate crisis in America, it is also a film about people and “their power to love.” Julia shares that the trust built in her family comes from having an “open discussion” policy in their own home.

“Our dinner table is a pretty open forum and I’m always fascinated when questions come out and inside you go ‘Ahhhh’ and outside you go, ‘I’m so glad you’ve asked that,'” she shares, “because really to feel safe to ask questions and to say ‘What does that mean?’ or ‘Have you ever heard of this?’ it makes me so happy, it’s when my husband and I feel like we must be doing something right.”

RELATED: Julia Roberts Is Ready To ‘Dig Deep’ In ‘Homecoming’ Trailer

She jokes, “Sometimes [my kids] have things really wrong. Information on the blacktop is not all it’s cracked up to be.”

But something that is a sure thing is Julia’s co-star Kathryn and her “exquisite” vocal talent.

“Isn’t it heavenly?” Julia asks Sangita. “It was so exquisite,” she gushes.

Humbled by the praise, Kathryn reveals that it was a lot scarier than it seemed.

“To tell you the truth, they hired me without knowing about me singing so I think they were really scared …I was really scared,” she tells Sangita.

But does Julia sing?

“So beautifully,” she jokes, “it would really, really blow your mind.”

For Sangita’s full interview with Julia and Kathryn, watch the video above.

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