One reason the summer of 2018 will go down in our pop-culture loving hearts as one to remember? The resurgence of mainstream romantic comedies after what seemed like a very long drought. Between box office hits like Crazy Rich Asians, or streaming surprises like To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we’ve spent more time in front of a screen swooning than we care to admit. And, thanks to Little Italy, there’s still more to come.

Star Emma Roberts learned about the genre from the best—her aunt, O.G. rom-com queen Julia Roberts—and knows exactly how we feel. “I love romantic comedies, and I feel now more than ever, we need more,” she tells us. “You leave the theatre and you’re smiling, and I don’t know see many movies or watch too many shows that leave me smiling.”

In the Toronto-set Little Italy (out in Canada today), Roberts stars as Nikki Angioli, a young chef based in London who returns home (where her family runs a classic pizzeria) to secure her work visa. She reconnects with her childhood BFF/crush Leo (IRL Canadian Hayden Christensen), who is off-limits because his family owns a rival pizza shop. Rom-com hijinks, of course, ensue.

We sat down with Roberts while she was in town for the movie’s premiere to chat about romantic comedies, working in Toronto and guilt-free self-care.



Why Little Italy? Were you looking to do a rom-com?

I’m always looking to do a romantic comedy, but this one was kind of a complete surprise. I fell in love with Little Italy because Donald Petrie was directing and he did two of my favourite rom-coms: Miss Congeniality and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. And now I’m looking to do more rom-coms—I’m just the biggest romantic. I love Nicholas Sparks, one of my dreams is to do a movie based on one of his books.

And what was it about Nikki that drew you to the role?

I love that you meet her at this crossroad in her life, where she’s trying to be her own person and figure out who that is, but she keeps getting pulled back to her family. We can all relate to that, to being in a place where it’s like, “This is who I am,” and then you see your family and it’s like, “This is also who I am.” And she doesn’t throw everything away for a guy, it’s more about how we can fit into each other’s lives. She’s still an ambitious young women and she needs her dreams to come true! The guy can go with her if she wants. [Laughs]

Do you have any favourite rom-com tropes?

I love the chase—not the metaphorical chase, but the actual I’m-coming-to-find-you, rushing-through-the-airport chase. I grew up watching my aunt [Julia Roberts] in rom-coms and in My Best Friend’s Wedding—one of my favourite movies ever—she’s chasing Dermot Mulroney across the lawn and he’s chasing Cameron Diaz. It’s so funny.

You filmed the movie in Toronto. What was that like?

Absolute heaven. It was a lot of fun. I ate so much pizza that I went on a juice cleanse when we wrapped. What I loved about summer in Toronto is that everyone is outside. It feels like there’s such a community here. You actually see people, whereas in L.A. you’re your car 90 per cent of the time. I’d never spent time here, so it was nice to really be able to explore.

What were some of your go-to spots?

I could walk up and down King and Queen streets all day. What I really liked to do was go to Type Books and go across the street to Trinity Bellwoods Park and read. No one is sitting in the park reading in L.A., it was the biggest treat for me.

You’re working and travelling all the time. How do you make sure you’re practicing self-care?

I’ve definitely had to implement more self-care into my life. The biggest trick is not feeling bad about it, because sometimes I’ll get invited somewhere but I’ll feel like staying home to do a facemask and read a book in the bath. I’m just honest about it now, instead of making up an excuse. And I realized that time for me is so important to reflect on the day. My biggest thing lately is that I try to disconnect from my phone and really sit with my thoughts and just take time for myself internally and externally.

What’s something you’re loving right now?

I’m super into backpacks. I’ve pretty much retired all my purses at the moment for backpacks. I have a Moschino one and a DKNY one that I love, I have a furry Longchamp one that I’m breaking out as soon as September happens. I’ve also been writing a lot and so I’m obsessed with Shinola journals I’ll get mine monogrammed with a word that I want that journal to represent.

What’s the word on your current journal?

Abundance. It has a lot of meaning—who doesn’t want an abundance of love and happiness?