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Julianne Moore: The Sanest Star?


Sylph

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<p><span style="font-size:19.5pt;"><font face="Verdana">Is Julianne Moore Hollywood’s savviest and sanest star?</font></span>

<span style="font-size:10.5pt;"><b><font face="Verdana">Ditch the limos, the electric gates, live on a normal street, stay low-key, show a little grace, and a bona fide, four times Oscar-nominated movie actress can walk unpestered to collect her son from school... </font></b></span>

<span style="font-size:7.5pt;"><b><font face="Tahoma"> Janice Turner</font></b></span>

<span style="font-size:9pt;"><font face="Verdana">Julianne Moore arrives at the West Village brasserie in the goofy outerwear favoured by New Yorkers in winter. She peels off her huge mittens, quilted coat, big woolly beany hat, bug-eye shades, to reveal her dark, auburn hair, her pale, perfect-oval face, her fame. The waiters had been excited enough about my lunch date to give me my choice of tables, but our fellow diners barely look up. Moore, after all, has a house around the corner, has lived in this neighbourhood of brownstones and funky coffee shops for 20-odd years. So long she has become a landmark: on the plane over I watch a dire Uma Thurman movie, Motherhood, in which Julianne is cited as a regular attraction in a local playground. And Moore herself just read a book – Julia Glass’s The Whole World Over – “I turned a page and ‘I’ walked into a restaurant,” she says. “It described my husband too. I said, ‘We just walked into a restaurant in the book that I’m reading!’ I was stunned.” But popping up as an avatar in random fiction is about as irksome as celebrity gets for her. Indeed Julianne Moore illustrates perfectly Diane von Furstenberg’s theory that stars are only as famous as they want to be. Ditch the limos, the electric gates, live in a normal New York street, stay low-key, show a little grace, and a bona fide, four times Oscar-nominated movie star can walk unpestered to collect her 12-year-old son from school, as Moore will be doing after our lunch.

Julianne Moore ranks high in that select group of actresses – Helen Hunt, Cate Blanchett, Laura Linney, La Belle Streep, of course – who make women feel better about themselves. She always brings class and dignity, but most importantly, she never allows herself to be a cypher, a generic wife, a cookie-cutter mother. Without being mannerly or method-mad, her acting is absolutely specific, the characters she embodies complex and real.

She can convey it in a gesture: in Magnolia, as Linda, the second wife burdened by guilt that she does not love her dying husband, Moore always has her handbag strap on her shoulder, even when seated, a woman forever desperate to take flight. And in Tom Ford’s directoral debut, A Single Man, she does it with an accent.

Moore was nominated for a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Charley, a bored, divorced aristo, who has lived too long and too louchely in southern California. Moore has played English before – in The End of the Affair and Wilde’s An Ideal Husband – but any Brit could place Charley instantly. She sounds like a blowsy old Sloane who partied with Princess Margaret on Mustique. Even her laugh sounds posh and debauched. Moore, genuinely thrilled to hear this, expands. “It’s 1962. So it’s that mix of Sixties vernacular and also that party girl sensibility, that really wealthy, rounded, slightly sloppy sound.”

Tom Ford, the arch details freak, was perfect for an actress who craves direction, who applies her vast, subtle emotional range like a technician. “He is very, very well prepared,” she says. “That is what I want as an actor: I want to know what he is trying to achieve so I can meet him there. Tom has a work ethic like nothing I’ve ever seen before. When he first came to my house to talk about the movie, he’d written it all, had so many images to show me. He was really specific about my look and my hair colour and my make-up.” Indeed the film is so minutely art-directed, its surfaces so burnished, it feels at times like a feature-length perfume ad.

They first met 12 years ago when Moore was nominated for her first Oscar (for Boogie Nights) and Ford, then at Gucci, made her a dress. She’d just given birth to her son Cal and felt her breasts were too big for the décolleté gown. So she didn’t wear it, but they remained friends and he wrote the part of Charley – adapting the book by Christopher Isherwood – with Moore in mind.

Moore orders two courses: pumpkin soup (no bread) and an egg-white spinach and Cheddar omelette (with fried courgettes not chips), omissions and substitutions no more fussy than those of an average New Yorker. She sips camomile tea, not ill at ease, but not relaxed either. She is, for the most part, in that careful, it’s-an-honour mode of any actress up for an award. (In the event, she lost out to Mo’Nique – Moore has never won a Golden Globe or Oscar despite nine nominations.) Her emotions seem highly tuned, like they might go either way at any time. Her ready laugh is wide-mouthed, almost anguished, like a howl.

Up close, perhaps because she holds the screen so powerfully, she is slighter-built, more fine-boned than I expect. Her face is bare of make-up and, for what it’s worth, I detect no needle-work. She is 50 this year, but could pass for late thirties. Somehow you can’t imagine her in LA: the sun frazzling her Celtic skin. Indeed, she only lived there for a short time, with her sister in the early Nineties. “For me it was hard to be that close to the business, like being in a steel mill town. Some people like the lifestyle. But I’m someone who doesn’t respond well to that kind of pressure.”

At first Hollywood didn’t know what to do with her: a redhead can never be the all-American every-girl. “I had a director tell me once I wasn’t easy to cast,” she says. “If you’re going to put a redhead on stage, there has to be a reason. It will change your eye.” So why didn’t she colour her hair? “I never did; I don’t know why. I only dyed it quite recently when I did Blindness, a movie with Fernando Meirelles, and I was convinced the character had to be blonde. But I hated it! I didn’t think it would bother me. I thought being a redhead was visible, but this? I didn’t feel like myself. The minute it was over, I was so happy to dye it back.”

American redheads don’t get called “ginger” – “I was shocked by how much people get teased in the UK”; they are more likely to get grief about their freckles. Moore even wrote a children’s anti-bullying book called Freckleface Strawberry, the name kids teased her with as a child. But in any case, Moore’s red hair always seemed just an outward manifestation of a deeper sense of difference.

The children of army parents – her father was a military judge, her mother, who died in April, a psychiatric social worker – she and her brother and sister moved around constantly, both in and outside the US, living in Germany for much of her teens, attending nine schools in all. “It’s a terrible way to grow up!” she says, letting out a horrified laugh, then, casting around for positives, adds, “You get very close to your family. It’s not something I recommend, but it made me who I am. It gave me adaptability, a sense of universality. I’d come back to the States and people wouldn’t know a thing about European culture; they hadn’t travelled. It was really beneficial: I saw the world at a very young age.”

This, she says, has inevitably informed her acting, made her observant, watchful. “When you move around a lot, you realise that language and culture change but people remain pretty constant. So it makes you think things are not that ‘other’ or alien or foreign any more.”

Indeed, Moore’s mother, Anne, wasn’t born in the US, but was the daughter of an unemployed Greenock shipbuilder who came in search of work. I ask Moore if she ever felt Scottish and realise, quite carelessly, I have thrust her into extreme pain. Her eyes fill and she can hardly speak.

“My mother passed away April 20 last year,” she says struggling to compose herself. “She’s gone. So that’s hard. It’s just one of those things. She was only 68. It was not fair. It has been really, really tremendously difficult. It was completely sudden and unexpected and she was a month away from retirement. It was an infection and then an embolism. My mother got sick and she died the next morning. And I was on a plane on my way there when she passed away. It was really awful. We all miss her. It’s been very bad. It’s the thing about loss, and you see it in this movie too, that unfortunately this is what happens. None of us is spared.”

In A Single Man, George, a college professor, played affectingly by Colin Firth, loses his lover in a car crash and is incapable of getting past his grief. Moore’s loss, too, is still clearly raw and ever present. “I ran into someone who’d lost their partner just after I lost my mother,” she says. “She had a really tough loss to cancer. And she said to me, ‘You’re going to be different now: you know it can end.’”

It is tough, she says, for her father living alone now in Maryland. “My mother came to the US when she was 10 and met my father in church when she was 12. Isn’t that crazy? They dated in high school and then they were married right after.” Her mother retained her accent – Moore gives me a good recitation of “It’s a braw bricht moonlicht nicht the nicht” – and didn’t acquire US citizenship until she was 27, half-thinking she might one day return home. She took Julianne several times to visit her aunts in Dunoon, Argyll. “My mother would always remind us we weren’t quite American, only half-American.”

Although her parents insisted she get a college degree in case she ever needed a Plan B, Moore was never out of work, honing her craft with theatre and three years in a daytime soap, As the World Turns, which was shot in New York, until, in her late twenties, she started flying out to Los Angeles for auditions. She didn’t make her first movie until she was 29.

It was her role as an artist in Robert Altman’s Short Cuts, in which she appears naked, that first garnered her the critics’ attention. Moore has been compared to European actresses for her “bravery” in taking parts that require nudity – as a porn star Amber Waves in Boogie Nights, as a woman who seduces her own son in Savage Grace – at a time when most Hollywood A-listers routinely perform sex scenes in their bras.

But Moore insists she doesn’t look to shock and is simply attracted to powerful domestic drama, a genre too often dismissed as wet, soap-operatic and female. “A lot of my parts aren’t about people doing extraordinary things, like climbing Everest, but about family structure, how we operate in that. It’s those relationships that shape our lives, not necessarily what we do. And I have the idea too, that people can be the masterminds of their own tragedy. Like Amber Waves thinks she is living this ideal life, but she’s a porn star and a drug addict; she can’t take care of herself.”

Moore’s dictum is that people don’t come to the cinema to see her, but to see themselves. “We want to see our own lives; I do anyway. My friends make jokes that I won’t go see something if there’s only men in it because I don’t know who to look at. Like big war films. I don’t have a way in here. Let me in. Give me a woman to look at so I can enter the story. So I think you want to represent other women and give them access to tell their stories.”

In her next film, Chloe, out on March 5 and directed by Atom Egoyan, she plays a woman who hires a young escort to test her husband’s fidelity. “So many movies are just ‘She meets the guy, gets married, the end’. But for most of us this is just the beginning. Marriage is long and involved, sometimes wonderful or treacherous.”

Moore herself is married to Bart Freundlich, an indie movie director, a decade her junior. They fell in love when working on his film The Myth of Fingerprints in 1996 and married four years ago in the back garden of their New York house. It is a relationship she chooses to keep down low and discusses reluctantly, although she is far less guarded about their children, Cal and Liv, 7.

She says she and Freundlich work hard to instil a sense of privilege and good fortune: “The kids go to a Quaker school and their father and I believe a lot in community and making sure you give to people less fortunate than you. We talk about responsibility a lot.” Are they aware of her fame? “I think they see it as separate from me. I always say, ‘I’m not on the cover because I’m famous. It’s because it’s my job, I’m in a movie.’ I stress work and accomplishment and not celebrity.”

Moore only makes movies in school holidays or close to home so she can be around to ensure they work hard at school and do their chores: “My son made his bed this morning and I couldn’t believe it. Every day I’m like, “Make-your-bed, make-your-bed.” What’s her secret? “Nagging,” she says. “I suppose everyone worries their kids are spoilt. Mine have swimming, ice skating and guitar lessons. My parents couldn’t afford any of that. I didn’t learn to swim until I was 26.”

She had her children late too – Moore’s early first marriage ended in 1993. Did she worry she might not have a family? “That was the one thing I knew I would do, that I would have children. And it was a pretty acute desire. The funny thing is I was determined to have a baby by the time I was 36. My son was born the day after my 37th birthday. He was three weeks late. It was like the universe was laughing, saying, ‘You see, you can’t control things.’”

That so many people think they can, has started to incense her. “Women in their late thirties or early forties talk about how they’re not middle-aged. And I just think, how long are you expecting to live? They’re in the middle. If you’re lucky you get to live to your eighties; if you’re unlucky, like my mother, you don’t.”

Why are producers so terrified of seeing older actresses on screen? “Fear of death,” she says, baldly. Does turning 50 daunt her? “It certainly changed once my mother died. People ask me a lot about age.?” Once again tears come. “ ‘How does it feel to be older?’ And it always seems to me you want to look younger. But that seems ridiculous now. Because I think: what is the alternative? There is no guarantee.”

This cold blast of mortality has made her realise nothing matters but family. And we chat for a while about our kids. You might be surprised to know that few actors (Americans especially) ever ask a journalist a single question, don’t attempt – unlike Moore – to turn an interview into a human encounter. She fears Cal, whom she’s meeting shortly, will be grumpy since, having broken his wrist snowboarding in Wyoming at Christmas, he can’t go to football practice. She understands my need to bring my sons something from every trip, bought Cal an Arsenal hat last time she was in London. Then, outside on the pavement, she notices with amusement my weedy winter wardrobe. “Your coat is too thin!” she teases. “You need boots with a lining.” I envy her funky shearling clog boots. She walks me to the start of Bleecker Street and points out where to find the T-shirt shops. “And do yourself a favour,” she calls after me, merrily, as she turns on to her own street. “Buy yourself a hat.”

A Single Man is released on February 12</font></span>

<span style="font-size:7.5pt;"><b><font face="Tahoma">http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article6995335.ece</font></b></span></p>

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She probably is. Her and Michelle Pfieffer are my absolute favorites of the current actresses out there. What I love about Julianne Moore's films, is that, much in the same vein Jennifer Connolly chooses her films, they all are against the cliche vein of storytelling. They push boundaries, go against the grain. That makes them interesting.

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I agree, she probably is. She doesn't fit in the crazy environment of Holywood stars and "stars". Even if it turns out to be a bad movie, or just something I'm not really into, I always make sure to watch whatever she does.

I haven't yet seen A Single Man, though.

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I still hate Ford's glam star take on her character in the movie (just cuzit's not remotely true to the novel) but loved her in it. She's probably my fave female star in her league.

This does look glammed up (BTW, your thoughts on the film? Art direction, photography, script?):

2009_a_single_man_001.jpg

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When you follow Jodie Foster's tour de force performance, you're almost guaranteed to fail.

But she didn't (follow).

She said it very clearly: I'm going to turn left. It was something like "This will be a very different Clarice."

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But she didn't (follow).

She said it very clearly: I'm going to turn left. It was something like "This will be a very different Clarice."

I don't mean in terms of approach, I meant in terms of playing the role after Foster's grand award winning performance.

The comparisons were going to be inevitable, and sorry to say, she doesn't stack up to Foster as an actress, though I love her too.

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This does look glammed up (BTW, your thoughts on the film? Art direction, photography, script?):

2009_a_single_man_001.jpg

I thought I posted a short review in another thread back in Dec, but now can't find it. I've seen it twice so far (not just cuz I did like it but cuz both my mom and then the bf wanted to go lol)... Overall, I loved it. I have a big bias in that I've been obsessed with the Isherwood novel since I was a teen (Cabaret got me into Isherwood but I think A Single Man is his best piece of writing, in fact I think it should be considered a 20th century American classicalong the levels of Gatsby--hopefully this movie will allow it the recognition it deserves). The novel is basically a long running monologue--so Ford had his work cutout for him. I do think his visual symbolism, while often a bit too obvious, helped with this along with the uses of different filters, etc. Usually I try to completely seperate a movie from its source material, but I've read thenovella probably 6 or more times, so in this case it's hard to.

I do think everyone looks too ridiculously perfect--but Ford's a designer. I mean in the book they make the point severaltimes that the student character would be conventionally handsome if he didn't have an awkward nose (something I don't think anyone would complain of Hoult having!). Yet, I can kinda get past and accept this again as sorta a stylization of what's happening in George's mind. This isn't a spoiler as it's shown from the start,but the movie adds the major plot device of George carrying a gun with him contemplating suicide--completely missing in the novel. I assume they felt this was needed to give the plot more drive (in the novel it's just basically "a day in the life"). When I first saw the film I found thsi unecesary, but less so thesecond time.

Certainly the movie would be all style if it didn't have the amazing perfromances from Firth and Moore. As it is I think it's very very good, and I think it's a movie, cuz Ilove the novel so much, I'm especially hard on. If that makes sense (the score, which is half by Shigeru Umebayashi, whose work I knew from Wong Kar-Wai's films, and half by Abel Korzeniowski who I didn't know--is *perfect*.)

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I have read the book. I'm actually not really interested in how it has been told, I'm more about the look. I couldn't help but notice how Julianne's pink nails match her pink cigars in that photo above I posted. That is fabulous! :lol:

The book was adapted by your fellow Canadian, a Vancouver lawyer, who I think has a thing for the book just like you, but then Ford re-wrote parts of it so they share an and credit (and not a &). Scearce, the screenwriter, says Isherwood gave the story, he the structure and Ford the style.

I know who Umebayashi is, and he was just credites as an additional composer. That is because Ford wanted him to compose all of the music, but there were some distance troubles so he only did one stand-alone piece. You can read more in this interview with the Polish composer, who I also haven't heard about up unti now. He talks about how he is considered for Twiligh, but obviously he did not get it (Howard Shore did, who replaces Desplat, and Desplat goes on to score Harry Potter).

:P

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I admit I'm not very good at describing how the film looked... In a word, it looks amazing--I do think in some instances TOO amazing (Charlie/Moore's house is like *wow*--in the novel it's meant to be unique, but hardly what the film shows). I saw Ford interviewed on Charlie Rose and he admitted that some details, like when we see George get dressed each one of his shirts is individually folded and "done up" in his drawer, come from his own life, which I suppose makes sense. What I found most striking was the change in style for the flashback and fantasy sequences, which I felt were perfect. I'm more mixed on the constant use of eyes as a metaphor--it felt obvious to me, yet there are a couple of cases where it's very effective. But yeah every single aspect of the look of the film, looks perfect and striking (maybe almost too much? I know the negative reviews I've read feel that it's all style over substance, but I think a case coul dbe made for the style being the substance and, again, a way of telling in visual terms what was done as interior dialogue in the novel)

Yeah there was a good interview with Scearce about his dream to adapt the novel, and talking with Isherwood's widow (is that the right word when it's a gay relationship? widower? lol ) to get certain parts right. I found that interesting, because on apple.com's movie trailer site there's a neat 15 minute quicktime film about the movie where they give Ford full credit for script, repeatedly, which, fom all I've read didn't seem to be remotely true--so thanks forpointing out the change in credit.

Also thanks for clearing up the composer situation--on the soundtrack CD Umebayashi has three sequences, I believe, but they all are interelated (although spread out throughout the film)--no matter, in the film you certainly would think ti was all the same composer.

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