Moore Than Meets the Eye

Sure, she’s a knockout, But it was Julianne Moore’s combination of blazing talent and quiet determination that propelled her from TV soaps to cinema stardom. Now she portrays controversial Sarah Palin in the new HBO movie Game Change while living a game change of her own—a happy family life with her younger husband 

by Leah Rozen
julianne moore image
Photograph: James White

Moore says that while she disagrees with Palin’s politics, she does find the moose-hunting maverick “extremely charismatic” and is fascinated by how far that can take a candidate. “The movie makes the point that in politics, you need a star to win an election,” she says. “I find that very disheartening as a voter—and as an actor—because knowing what that system is, it’s not something I put a lot of stock in. Stardom is a quality, not a characteristic. At the end of the day, what we’re looking for as citizens is leadership, and often what the system gives us is entertainment. And that I find deeply disappointing.”

Moore herself has star quality aplenty, but in person, she’s friendly, funny and down to earth. When we meet at a café near the Greenwich Village home she shares with her husband, director Bart Freundlich (Californication), and their children, she answers questions readily and is refreshingly frank about the joys of being a celebrity: “There’s no downside! None. I explain to my kids that I’m very, very lucky. When people stop me and I’m with my kids, I always say hello and am nice. My daughter will say, ‘That person was very nice, Mommy.’ ” And she confesses to being “the worst tweeter ever: boring and infrequent.” She takes the Fifth on only one subject—her first marriage, about which she says simply, “I was too young.” (She was 25 when she wed actor and stage director John Gould Rubin. They divorced nine years later, in 1995.)

If family and work are her priorities, friendship is a close third. “She is a very good girlfriend,” says actress Ellen Barkin. “She’s someone you can call up and share your happiness with or cry your eyes out for two hours.” The two have been close pals—Moore referred to Barkin as her “BFF” in a recent tweet—since they met backstage while visiting Ralph Fiennes when he was starring in Hamleton Broadway in 1995.

Told that both Barkin and Paulson had extolled her gift for friendship, Moore says, “I like women a lot. I’m always excited to find someone I can talk to and spend time with.” She is so pro-woman, in fact, that she dismisses celebrity magazines as harmful to them: “They encourage young women, and some middle-aged women, to be interested in somebody else’s narrative rather than their own. I don’t want my daughter or her friends to be interested in Jessica Simpson. I want them to be interested in what’s happening in their own lives.”

Given how strongly she identifies with women, she says, it was an eye opener, in a positive way, when her firstborn was a son: “The best thing to happen to me was that I had a boy, because then I was able to go, Oh, look, there are all these other people, and they count, too.”

Moore has gained insight into men by coming to appreciate their love of sports. “I married into it. I didn’t understand sports before,” she says. “I just thought it was a bunch of nonsense.” Now she believes that every player and team has a story. “It’s narrative,” she says, an epiphany that occurred when Freundlich told her, as they were watching a World Series game, that a player’s young son had died and he was pitching in memory of his child. “It’s men’s way of expressing emotion, and once you know that, for me it becomes incredibly dynamic.”

One man she’s bonded with (though not over sports) is Colin Firth, with whom she costarred in A Single Man.“ She’s one of the most fun people I’ve ever worked with,” says Firth. “She was such fun that the work itself became something of an interruption. We were so busy telling stories that when [director] Tom Ford said ‘Action,’ it was a bit of a distraction.”

First published in the March 2012 issue

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