Julia Roberts talks about the death of her half sister

Julia Roberts finally addresses the death of her half-sister Nancy Motes in an interview with WSJ. Magazine. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Julia Roberts is finally publicly addressing the death of her half-sister Nancy Motes, who was found dead in February of an apparent drug overdose.

The "August: Osage County" star's family issued a statement soon after Motes' death saying that they were "devastated," but Roberts laid low during the surrounding frenzy.

"It's just heartbreak," the actress said, tearing up in an interview with WSJ. Magazine that took place just weeks after her estranged sister's passing. "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."

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Eyes were on Roberts when, according to the New York Daily News, reports from unnamed sources emerged after the death, alleging that Motes had left a lengthy suicide note detailing her relationship with Roberts and railing against the actress. WSJ also mentioned those salacious headlines.

Though Roberts didn't publicly comment on the "Glee" production assistant's death, she did bow out of some Oscar-related events to be with her family when the news broke.

"You don't want anything bad to happen to anyone, but there are so many tragic, painful, inexplicable things in the world," she added. "But [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."

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Roberts, 46, who will appear in Ryan Murphy's "The Normal Heart" in May, also discussed lighter topics with the mag, including how she perceives her popularity.

"I don't consider myself a celebrity, [at least not] how it is fostered in our culture today. I don't know if I'm old and slow, but there seems to be a frenzy to it."

The flashy-grinned star has amassed a bountiful body of work since her early roles in "Mystic Pizza," "Pretty Woman" and "Steel Magnolias." She won the Academy Award for 2000's "Erin Brokovich" and has admitted to pacing her professional life in recent years so that she could prioritize her family.

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"I think people like to say that I'm super picky because of how much I lo-oo-ve my kids," Roberts told The Times in December. "But as an actor, I sort of pride myself on the fact that I've always been picky."

The redhead echoed that sentiment to WSJ, explaining why she started a family after working for 18 years.

"By the time we had kids, 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," she said.

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Roberts, who has twins Hazel and Phinnaeus (Finn), 9, and son Henry, 6, with husband Danny Moder, recently told David Letterman that despite her popularity, her kids don't know how famous she is.

"They know I'm their mother and they know that I work in show business, as does their father," she said in a December appearance on "The Late Show". She added that they also hadn't seen any of her movies -- and there are a lot of them.

The full WSJ. Magazine issue hits newsstands May 3.

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