Julia Roberts’ half-sister Nancy Motes died Feb. 9 of an apparent drug overdose at the age of 37, shocking the family, which also includes actor Eric Roberts and his daughter Emma Roberts.

Julia Roberts On Half-Sister's Death

Nearly three weeks later, Roberts, who was nominated for her turn in August: Osage County this year, opened up about learning of Mote’s untimely death. "It's just heartbreak," Roberts told the Wall Street Journal Magazine for its May issue. "It's only been 20 days. There aren't words to explain what any of us have been through in these last 20 days. It's hour by hour some days, but you just keep looking ahead."

“You don't want anything bad to happen to anyone, but there are so many tragic, painful, inexplicable things in the world,” Roberts continued. [As with] any situation of challenge and despair, we must find a way, as a family. It's so hard to formulate a sentence about it outside the weepy huddle of my family."

Roberts Talks Family Life

Roberts, who has found a way to successfully protect her private life from her life as a movie star, will soon appear in the HBO movie The Normal Heart alongside Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo. In order to keep motherhood as her number one priority, Roberts shot her scenes during her children’s Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

"By the time we had kids,” Roberts said of her and her husband, cinematographer Danny Moder. I had accomplished things and felt secure about that part of my life. I was so joyful moving into the family phase of my life in a sincere way."

"We're just grateful for the sense we have of being like any other family down the street. I don’t question it,” said the Oscar-winner, who lives full-time with her family in a modest Malibu property. "For a long time, they [Henry, 6, and twins Hazel and Phinnaeus, 9] weren't even aware I had a job because I was home so much. Now they get it."

The Normal Heart, in which Roberts plays polio victim and AIDS research doctor Emma Brookner, premieres on HBO May 25. Jonathan Groff, Taylor Kitsch, Jim Parsons and Denis O’Hare also star. It was directed by Ryan Murphy from a story by Larry Kramer.

– Chelsea Regan

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