The big London interview: Julianne Moore
Things I have learned about Julianne Moore: first, she loves clearing up falsehoods about herself. For one thing, she’s not allergic to sugar, as someone claimed when she was hospitalised while working on Far From Heaven.
“I was sick, but not because of sugar,” says Moore, who counts herself a sweet fiend. “It’s the last thing in the world I could stop eating.”
Next, she’s never been married to Sundar Chakravarthy, a mystery man who’s listed himself on IMDB as her first husband (“I keep trying to get it off”). And she did not slag off Madonna and Angelina Jolie for giving celebrity activism a bad name, as a women’s mag claimed. “Absolutely not! They’ve done great stuff. All I said was people put so much emphasis on what celebrities do for charity when everybody does things.”
Things that are true about Julianne Moore: she lives in New York’s West Village, where we meet for a cafe breakfast of scrambled eggs and blueberry muffins (“they’re soooo good”); she married film-maker Bart Freundlich five years ago (they’ve been together since 1997) and they have two kids, Caleb, 10, and Liv, six; and her latest film, Fernando Meirelles’s Blindness, opened the Cannes Film Festival this year.
Dressed for comfort in slip-on Birkenstocks, jeans and a white cotton smock, Moore says that despite the film’s mixed reception in Cannes, she’s proud of Blindness – an allegorical tale depicting a strange outbreak of sightlessness in an unnamed US city and the latest in a wave of movies reflecting an anxiety about humanity’s future.
“Fernando’s a beautiful filmmaker,” says Moore. “I loved City Of God and The Constant Gardener, and I love the naturalism he brought to this.”
Feigning blindness so she can stick by her afflicted eye-doctor husband (Mark Ruffalo), Moore’s nameless wife ends up becoming leader of the quarantined victims, her sight giving her the power to play god. It takes her a while to seize control from Gael Garcia Bernal’s blind bully boy however, even as his followers hoard food supplies then demand sex from the detention centre’s women.
“She watches for a long time,” admits Moore. “She doesn’t take her possibilities, but that’s what I like about her. In life, we don’t always take action. Our leaders sometimes emerge and she emerges from necessity. Maybe she should have taken action sooner, but she didn’t, which is much more human.”
From Magnolia to The Hours, Moore’s played her share of gloomy, desperate women and, in the early days, she pushed herself hard. She once quit eating altogether to play the uber-allergic housewife in Safe, convincing worried director Todd Haynes that she was anorexic.
Now older, wiser and with nothing to prove, Moore won’t go as far, though she did dye her red hair blonde at Meirelles’s request for Blindness – the first time she hasn’t opted for a wig. “I thought ‘this’ll be fun’ – but I hated it!” she says. “People would yell from across the street as if there was a light shining on my head. I couldn’t wait for it to be over. The minute I wrapped, I dyed it back.”
Heading out the cafe door to run that day’s errands, Moore laughs when a lorry driver recognises the red-maned actress and calls out her name.
One more thing about Ms Moore that’s true: “I’m more strongly identified with my hair colour than I thought.”