Julia Roberts on Why She Said Yes to TV for Amazon's Homecoming: 'It Was a Great Mental Challenge Every Day'

Julia Roberts Amazon Homecoming

You already know Julia Roberts from the big screen… but to her, there’s not much difference between that and the small screen these days: “My TV is very big,” she jokes.

At the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday, the Oscar winner explained why she decided to take her first major TV role in Amazon’s half-hour psychological thriller Homecoming (premiering Friday, Nov. 2). And one big reason for that was Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, who directs all ten episodes of Homecoming and serves as an executive producer. “Honestly, the man to my right is what attracted me,” Roberts said, gesturing to Esmail.

“I loved every minute we spent together professionally,” Roberts said of Esmail. “He knows exactly the right thing to say at all times… we had a great symbiotic relationship.” She adds that Homecoming‘s story — Roberts plays a case worker who helps military veterans transition from the battlefield to civilian life — “is such a great, old-fashioned yarn set in this really modern conundrum of a morality play… and to put that in Sam’s incredibly stylish, capable, huge hands seemed a very safe place to be.”

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Being the star of a TV series is a bit different for Roberts, who admits “it was a great mental challenge every day. I kind of loved that… ‘How many pages are we gonna get to do tomorrow?'” But she added that the Homecoming shoot “wasn’t that different from film, just by virtue of the way we shot it. We were all together in the way we would be on a movie.”

Homecoming has “an old-fashioned, old-school thriller vibe to it,” according to Esmail, who cites the films of Alfred Hitchcock and Brian DePalma as major influences. But “that’s not to say this is a five-hour movie,” he was quick to say. “There are episodes.” (“We have credits at the beginning, and credits at the end, over and over and over,” Roberts added with a laugh.)

She did decline to say, though, if she would be involved in the already-announced second season of the series: “I think we’re going to peel one onion at a time.”