“Ain’t No Sunshine” Only Ever Applies to Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts, possibly the last of the great Hollywood actresses of the “mega movie star” era that seemed to end in the 90s, has frequently been the source for the phrase “ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone.” In both Notting Hill and The Mexican, specific use of or reference to this song is made. Even having it used once in a film that pertains to the allure of Roberts’ character is telling of the sort of woman she’s supposed to embody: the unreachable, too amazing for any man type.

Will Thacker (Hugh Grant) traipsing sadly though the snow thinking about Anna (Roberts) as "Ain't No Sunshine" plays in the background
Will Thacker (Hugh Grant) traipsing sadly though the snow thinking about Anna (Roberts) as “Ain’t No Sunshine” plays in the background
In Notting Hill, Bill Withers’ seminal 1971 track is played after Hugh Grant (always a foppish leading man) as William Thacker, mourns the loss of his love, actress Anna Scott (Roberts), who scorns him after she assumes he ratted her location out to the press so he could become famous by association. His yearning for the woman with the megawatt smile and the saucy attitude could only apply to the specific aesthetic and personality of Roberts.
The smile that launched a thousand mental disorders
The smile that launched a thousand mental disorders
Again, in The Mexican, one of Roberts’ lesser appreciated post-Erin Brockovich films, Jerry Welbach (Brad Pitt) can’t seem to function without his ex-girlfriend, Samantha (Roberts), in his life. This prompts him to call her up from Mexico and leave a message that ends with, “Ain’t no sunshine.” The obsession that someone as simultaneously warm and cold as Roberts evokes from men is, thus, highly deserving of such a song.