Moore than just a pretty face
Published 13/09/2011 | 11:44
From Oscar nods to children's books, Julianne Moore can do no wrong. Shereen Low finds out why Hollywood's most famous redhead is excited to make people laugh.
Julianne Moore thinks she's hit on a foolproof technique for avoiding the paparazzi.
Apparently, all the Oscar-nominated star has to do is don the right headgear.
"If I put on a hat, people would go, 'Where's Julie?'" she says gleefully. "People don't tend to look beyond the hair colour."
But those aware of Moore's accomplished body of work would know better than to judge the actress just by her looks.
From her first Oscar nomination for Boogie Nights to last year's Golden Globe nod for The Kids Are All Right, it's clear the actress is ticking all the right boxes.
Born Julie Anne Smith, Moore recently turned her real-life experiences into a children's book series called Freckleface Strawberry, set to be adapted into an off-Broadway musical.
"Freckleface Strawberry was me! It was my nickname when I was seven - and one I really didn't like," she says. "I thought it was so horrible. I hated my freckles!
"Most children's books are about learning to like things about yourself that you don't, but Strawberry worries about more important things instead."
Looking a decade younger than her 50 years, despite barely wearing any make-up on her alabaster Celtic skin, Moore is immaculate in a beige and red silk dress with matching heels, which ironically sets off her vivid red hair perfectly.
The actress, who has British citizenship thanks to her Scottish mum but lives in New York, is in town promoting her new film Crazy Stupid Love, in which she plays cheating wife Emily to Steve Carell's character Cal.
Also starring Ryan Gosling, Kevin Bacon, Emma Stone and Marisa Tomei, the comedy didn't win Moore over at first, due to its amazing cast.
"I thought it was going to be another one of those rubbish romantic comedies with a lot of stars in it," she admits.
"Putting lots of big names in a movie, who are there just to look beautiful, is never going to work. All the great romantic comedies, like Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally and Tootsie, have strong stories, just like this film. It touches on the whole spectrum of the romantic experience, from infatuation to marriage and divorce."
Moore was also attracted to the comedy angle. Having immersed herself in serious film dramas such as Chloe, A Single Man and Blindness in recent years, she got a taste of it again while appearing in 30 Rock as the high school crush of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) in 2009/10.
"That is what's exciting me these days, actually," she admits. And credits her co-star Carell with helping her through the "challenge".
"With comedy, it's about the emotional truth, and the tone and timing on top of that. But it was so easy with Steve, he's got this impeccable comedic ability.
"It's like something I've never seen before. He not only made me laugh, but was a really thrilling acting partner, because he truly knows how to mine even the most nuanced bits of absurdity out of every moment."
It's not the first time Moore has portrayed an adulterous partner. In The Kids Are All Right she jumped into bed with Mark Ruffalo's on-screen alter ego and in Chloe she embarked on a passionate romance with Amanda Seyfried's character.
"I know!" she exclaims. "Is this a trend?"
But she does think it's natural to present that side of relationships too: "Families are complicated. I liked that this wasn't a traditional romantic comedy."
There's little chance that the mother-of-two, who is contented in her second marriage with director Bart Freundlich, intends to follow Emily in looking for her kicks elsewhere, however.
"No, I love my life, career and family," she says, smiling. "Freud said, 'You need love and work'. You have to have that balance. If you have a family that cares about you and work you enjoy, then you do feel balanced."
Moore is even excited that the couple's two children, 13-year-old Caleb, and Liv, nine, are growing up.
"No more swinging, no more baby carriages," she says with a laugh. "But you're still parenting. My kids are getting really big. It's kind of amazing."
She adds: "They go from somebody who's very dependent on you to someone who's got their own life. They're basically in charge of their own social schedule and it's fascinating. This is the beginning of their independent life."
Moore's next role sees her playing the US Republican Party's former nominee for Vice President, Sarah Palin, in the TV movie Game Change.
"I didn't meet her, so there was a lot of research involved," she recalls. "A lot of looking at YouTube, reading books and listening to books on tape - a total immersion in it. It's been a real challenge."
And she tried not to channel any of Tina Fey's infamous impressions of the Alaskan politician into her portrayal: "You know, Tina was so great; she was wonderful with what she did. But we're doing completely different things."
EXTRA TIME - MOORE'S MASTER MOVES
:: Boogie Nights - Her unforgettable performance as cocaine-sniffing porn star Amber Waves in the 1997 drama won her that first Oscar nod.
:: Far From Heaven - Moore shows off her acting best as pent-up Fifties housewife Cathy Whitaker, which scored her another Academy Award nomination.
:: A Single Man - She's hardly recognisable as booze-loving Charley opposite Colin Firth's troubled George, which nabbed her a Golden Globe nomination.
:: The Kids Are All Right - More acclaim arrived for Moore as Jules, who's in a lesbian marriage with Annette Bening's Nic.
:: Crazy Stupid Love is released in cinemas on Friday, September 23