Julianne Moore is one of the best actresses working today. No matter what film she’s in, she almost always delivers a strong performance and finds an inspired and intelligent approach to her characters. In her newest film, Crazy, Stupid, Love., she plays Emily, a woman who is divorcing her husband Cal (Steve Carell) after she cheated on him with her co-worker (Kevin Bacon). Despite the character’s actions, Moore does a tremendous job of keeping our sympathies, which is an even more difficult task when you consider the affability of an actor like Carell.
During a roundtable interview at the Crazy, Stupid, Love. press junket, Moore talked about balancing the drama and humor of her character, playing middle-aged women (but if you’re wondering who she was laughing at about the poorly-phrased question concerning great roles for older actresses, it was me), her advice for Emma Stone, and more. Hit the jump to check out the interview. Crazy, Stupid, Love. opens today.
JULIANNE MOORE: Oh gosh, absolutely. And the directors encouraged it and the writer was very generous about it, so John [Requa] and Glenn [Ficarra] and Dan Fogelman, who was on the set all the time too, everybody was ike, just go ahead and do it and if there was anything people wanted to mess with they welcomed it. It was fun, it was really fun.
You’ve had so many different roles, I guess this wasn’t too strange for you to be the woman to cheat on the husband?
MOORE: Yeah, I mean it was certainly interesting and I’d never read anything like it. When I read on the first page where she says, I want a divorce, I laughed out loud, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, oh my God, I have to do this movie! It was so funny and surprising and touching, you know, I love it. And so well constructed, the story.
Who wrote the Twilight line in the movie, was that part of improvisation? Because that Twilight line really gets a lot of laughs in the trailer…
Was that something that they just threw out there?
MOORE: It was scripted.
MOORE: It was brilliant, I thought it was brilliant. Now, for the record I haven’t seen the Twilights ok? But yeah, it was scripted and I loved it. And I loved the idea, it was so great too that this was a woman that was so starved from romance that she went to see a teen romance movie in the middle of the afternoon, I mean that was what was so great about it, and you know, lied to her husband about it.
Julianne, I found your character a little…I thought it wasn’t fair how she felt about her husband cheating. He did want to tell her at school that he’d cheated, but it didn’t matter, it seemed in my head, whether he had cheated with one woman or an infinite amount of women, because cheating is cheating, and so I think that your character was a little disappointed that he really had, and the rumors she was hearing were true, and I was sort of like, what difference does it make if it’s one or a million?
MOORE: Well, it did to her. I guess she felt like, I mean, the way I looked at it was like, oh, ok, well it’s fair we were separated and I have slept with this one person too, so you should be able to be with this one person, and then when he says how many, she’s like, are you kidding me???!! And that’s really hurtful because then that feels like, who cares? It’s not like I’m going to run in to the arms of somebody and make myself feel better, it’s just like, I’m a bachelor now and I’m doing that kind of stuff, so for her it’s kind of like, well he’s finished and that’s over.
That’s another way of looking at it. Because I looked at it more so with in our society we always see it like, well you did it, so I’ll do it back. It doesn’t make sense realistically, but we really go in to the thoughts on it. What would make more sense is that, if you cheat it doesn’t matter!
MOORE: I know, I know, it should be, yeah, but also no-one’s rational, you know, in these situations too. It’s that thing about her. I liked the fact that in that scene too, and John and Glenn were great about the tone in it, it’s like it was all kind of outrageously funny and then it gets super serious again, you know, and you’re like, which?! And I loved the shift in tone, I think it’s really good.
It’s almost like American Beauty in like a French farce, when they’re together…
MOORE: That’s nice, yeah.
Your character has to sort of, you know, shoulder the brunt of like a lot of the dramatic material as well, but you also do get to be funny and have your moments, did you find that you sort of had to bring a different energy to the role as opposed to something like 30 Rock where you got to play a big broad Boston accent and go more madcap?
MOORE: Everything, you know, you bring sort of the same kind of energy and level of concentration to every part that you do, they’re just different demands. And with all of it too, you have to make sure you have a kind of emotional truthfulness in order to make it funny. But I loved the mix in this. It’s very rare that you get to see this kind of mix.
I remember when you were doing press last year for The Kids Are All Right, do you just keep getting these women in crisis roles? Like, are you starting to feel, oh maybe I should try to do a more stable character?
MOORE: Why?! Why? That would be so boring. There’s no drama there. I mean, the reason that you don’t see these stable characters in films is where’s the drama? In all of the movies and films you see, people are always in crisis, because that’s what we watch. We watch them deal with crisis and resolve it. If everything were ok it would be like ‘click’, to stop the…you can tell how old I am, I ‘clicked’ something! But yeah, you know, so that’s what we like. We like drama. Even in our comedy we like drama.
So how fun was it working with Steve, you got any stories you could tell about you guys on set?
MOORE: He’s just the best. He’s so soulful a guy, and he connects so easily and so what you see on screen is what we feel when we’re opposite him. He’s easy and kind and really notices things, and I don’t know where he gets that comedic acuity, I don’t know where that comes from, it’s just like a gift. I’ve never seen anything like it. And he’s the first actor I’ve ever asked for advice, like I asked him to look at something because I said, I’m just not sure about it, and I don’t usually… but I just was like, do you think I stay in one place or… you know, it was one of those things. He’s just on it! He’s really, I can’t say enough about him. We had a lot in common, we talked about our families, and what we were doing, what the kids did, and whatever, and I felt like I’d known him forever.
For a while it seemed like there were a lot of roles that were well written but that were only for actresses in their twenties, but last year we got so many great, I mean, you and Annette [Bening] and The Kids Are All Right, and Lesley Manville in Another Year, and so many…do you find there are more parts now being written for older actresses that really have a lot for them to work with, as opposed to earlier years or recent years?
MOORE: Before I was old or do you mean now that I’m old? [laughs]
I knew there was no way for me to get out of this one!
MOORE: I’m sorry I couldn’t resist it! Like when I was younger was there more older stuff and now that I’m older was there more younger stuff? [laughs] I’m sorry. I don’t know, it’s hard to say. I really don’t know. I mean, I think it’s always hard to find great roles no matter what age you are. So I always say to people you have to remember that Hollywood is in the business of making movies that they can sell tickets to, they’re not in the business of finding great roles for actors. They’re not in their studios thinking, hmm, what great roles can we come up with this year, because that’s just not their priority, so you’re always looking.
And like, Chloe and The Kids Are All Right, and this, you’re playing a different aspect of that same, you know, mid life woman, but what aspect of that have you not explored yet that you’ve thought of, or that you’re kind of preoccupied with?
MOORE: I don’t think about anything. I really don’t. [laughs] I think about things like, what time am I going to have dinner? What are we doing this weekend? I never sit around being preoccupied about what I’m going to play next. Basically I read scripts and I think, what’s appealing about this, or what story is this telling, or do I like this? And that’s kind of how the roles come to me, not because I say I’m looking for x, y or z. It’s really just about reading what comes along. And given that now I am old [laughs], there are these characters – I’m older than I was before when I was young, but certainly the roles that are interesting me and the roles that are people my age are the things that people are writing, or people who’ve been in long term relationships. Like I said, I like relationship movies, they’re very rarely going to be about people just starting out and going to college, like in Superbad trying to buy some liqueur. That’s not going to be my dilemma given where I am physically! So that’s kind of what we’re dealing with.
Express what the shoot was like, because obviously there’s a lot of different stories, a lot of different journeys for the characters –
– so will you have in and out? Do you kind of go in for a week then out, were you aware of some other things going on so far as with like, Ryan [Gosling] and Steve [Carell], and with the kids, you know, were you actually there for any of that stuff or are you kind of just in…
MOORE: You’re only there for your part. That’s the great part of making movies. But basically what they do, just technically on the set is that they board you, so that you’re there for your stuff and then sometimes they board you out, so you just do a chunk and then you go. And then sometimes you go in and out. In my instance I think I was there for like a chunk of time and then I came back like a couple of times for little pieces, so yeah, you’re not there when they’re shooting the other stuff.
When they do indie movies a lot of times the actors, I’m not sure about how The Kids Are All Right was, but was that different? Because when you do indie movies a lot of times it’s just a matter of everyone there.
MOORE: Well Kids Are All Right was 23 days and I worked for 18 of those days, so I was there on this 18 days, but I didn’t go on the days that I wasn’t working! So yeah, it’s exactly the same as on err… I mean, if you’re on location somewhere, and you’re a young actor, you probably are hanging out. You know, there’s that aspect of it too, like being around, but if you have a family they try and board it together.
MOORE: Right! You know, a mid life crisis is nothing but getting to the point where [laughs] – I think everybody does because you get to the point where you go, well I’ve lived half of my life, maybe more than half of my life, you know, if you double your age you think how many years do you have in front of you versus how many you have behind you, and that’s the kind of point where you go, have I done what I wanted to do? Am I living the life that I want to live? Am I appreciating what I have? You know, I think if you don’t get to that point developmentally, you’re not doing it correctly. The people who get to that age and haven’t reassessed usually haven’t faced the fact that that’s where they are. It’s a matter of kind of going, ok, that’s all.
Age old, redundant question: is there such a thing as a soul mate?
MOORE: Oh, yes, we have been getting that question! I think that one of the things that you do learn is that falling in love and being in love with someone is a rarity. That you don’t fall in love as many times as you think you’re going to. And then when you do, it’s really special, it’s really important. Maybe it does happen to some people a couple of times, or maybe it is once, but I think you do know and you have to value it, and not just say, yeah, it’ll happen again!
Could you tell us what your favorite movie is?
MOORE: Rosemary’s Baby.
MOORE: I just love it because I think it’s so beautifully constructed and it’s about something – it’s about a woman who seems to be paranoid, but she’s not paranoid, it’s true! I love that idea, I love conspiracy things, and I love the fact that she is correctly sensing what’s happening, and plus I love the devil and devil babies! And they don’t make good devil movies any more.
MOORE: A slasher’s not the same, no?
You’re going to be in The Seventh Son right, which is more of a fantasy with witches and evil, what’s sort of you character in that film?
MOORE: I’m an evil witch!
MOORE: Yeah! I’m the evilest, I think I’m the most evil witch in the world. Isn’t that nice?
What a different character!
MOORE: Yeah I know, so it’ll be fun because I’ve never actually done any kind of like full blown fantasy thing, so I think it’ll be cool.
And Emma [Stone] said you told her to always wear sun screen.
MOORE: That’s right.
Anything else you share with her?
MOORE: I told her not to drink soda, it’s bad for her bones! [laughs] Thank you guys!