Julia Roberts 'Eat Pray Love' Premiere

Real life collided with Hollywood glamour for the world premiere of the much-anticipated Julia Roberts' movie "Eat Pray Love," based on Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir.

At Manhattan's iconic Ziegfeld Theater Tuesday night, Roberts who plays Gilbert in the movie, brushed past the author on the red carpet. Luminous and dressed in a whimsical Grecian red-white-and-pink one-shoulder gown, Gilbert couldn't help but blush at Roberts, who looked more austere in black.

VIDEO: ABCNews.com chats with the stars of "Eat, Pray, Love" at its world premiere.Play
Red Carpet Premiere of 'Eat Pray Love'

"I was not picturing a movie when I was writing this book, and I don't think I had the audacity to dream of Julia Roberts in it," Gilbert told ABCNews.com.

In the book and the movie, Gilbert begins her spiritual journey in New York. Heartbroken following her divorce, she travels to Italy, India and Indonesia in search of love, happiness and enlightenment. Back home in New York, it was one of those wonderfully satisfying New York moments as Gilbert came full circle, celebrating with the press and celebrities at "Eat Pray Love's" movie premiere.

For Gilbert, watching Roberts re-enact her life story on the big screen was surreal. "Julia Roberts is playing me?" Gilbert gushed. "I think it's amazing. It's spectacular. It's an honor. She's a national treasure. You know, I went to see 'Pretty Woman' on a date. Like everyone in the country, I grew up with the contours of her face and with her emotions. I feel an intimacy to her and a connection with her.

VIDEO: The actress insisted that her family come along as she filmed "Eat, Pray, Love."Play
Julia Roberts on 'Eat Pray Love' and Family

Julia Roberts in 'Eat Pray Love'

"It's been like a literary gift on top of the whole experience," Gilbert said.

Unlike Gilbert, Jennifer Salt, who wrote the screenplay for "Eat Pray Love," "knew it would be Julia from the beginning."

"There's so much of Julia Roberts that is similar to this character," Salt told ABCNews.com. "I always felt that if I had to describe Liz Gilbert, I would say that she's the Julia Roberts of memoir writers. She's beautiful and bright and funny and lights up a room. There was something … really dead on about it."

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'Eat Pray Love' Premiere

Veteran actor Richard Jenkins, who plays "Richard from Texas" in the film, signed on for the movie because he loved the book and wanted to work with Julia Roberts.

Even though Jenkins said that filming with Roberts in India "was really cool and a good time," he confessed to ABCNews.com that "I learned I'm not very spiritual and maybe I need to do a little work."

In terms of the book, he said, "I'm probably eat. See that dessert poster behind us? I'm afraid to turn around and look. I don't want to start eating paper," Jenkins said, joking.

VIDEO: The actress talks about her time in Bali, Italy and India filming the movie.Play
Julia Roberts on Filming 'Eat Pray Love'

"Glee" star Mike O'Malley, who plays Andy in the movie, also learned something about his spirituality after filming his scenes. "I'm all for the pray," he told ABCNews.com, adding, "I think the majority of women in this country would say I'm more love. I think it's just something that emanates from my eyes and from my spirit. I'm trying to be more of a fair-weather prayer than a foul-weather prayer." When people say, "When things go bad, God can help?" I'm trying not to do that as much."

Unlike her male co-stars, Roberts didn't identify specifically with any of the eat, pray or love aspects of the story. "They all mean the same thing to me" she told ABCNews.com.

VIDEO: The actor costars with Julia Roberts in the film version of a popular bestseller.Play
Javier Bardem Stars in 'Eat Pray Love'

But Roberts, who is in nearly every scene in the movie and shot the film in the same sequence as Gilbert's actual journey, enjoyed filming in Bali the most. "Bali is simply gorgeous," she said.

Producer Dede Gardner agreed that Bali was beautiful but said filming there was challenging because "they've never had a movie shot there before."

At the premiere, Gilbert admitted to seeing the film previously. "I saw it a couple of months ago in a screening with my husband. I asked [the studio] if I could watch it alone because I didn't know what my reaction would be," she said.

"It's a good thing that I did, because I was … weeping and trembling through the whole thing and my husband [and I were] falling into each other. I mean, obviously, there are things in the story that made us cry that wouldn't necessarily make the viewer cry, but I don't think anyone's going to leave this movie with a dry eye," Gilbert said.

VIDEO: Julia Roberts curses at gala honoring Tom Hanks.Play

"Eat Pray Love" opens in theaters around the country Friday, Aug. 13.