Interview: Chloe's Julianne Moore

By Perri Nemiroff 2010-03-23 14:26:01discussion comments
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Interview: Chloe's Julianne Moore image
Is there anything Julianne Moore canít do? Sheís starred in a soap opera, done some comedy, a little action and pushed the limits with a number of fairly controversial roles. Mooreís character in Chloe falls into the latter category. Catherine is in the middle of her life and struggling as the things she once loved are losing their vibrancy, particularly her marriage.

When sheís almost sure her husband, David, (Liam Neeson) is cheating on her, she makes a deal with a young prostitute named Chloe (Amanda Seyfried). Chloe attempts to seduce David on several occasions and reports back to Catherine with the details. Catherine quickly becomes conflicted eager to end the arrangement, but caught in the middle of the troubling discoveries and her own atypical intrigue.

Sounds like a classic story of amour, right? Okay, the prostitute thing may push Chloe into more divisive territory, but the element that solidifies it as a film that could suffer from backlash or gain admiration, depending on your taste in this type of material, is the girl-on-girl action. Yes, if you know just one thing about Chloe, itís probably that it involves Moore and Seyfried getting a little naughty.

Not sure how you feel about that? Perhaps Moore can elucidate on that issue more eloquently than I have. Check out what Moore had to say about her moment with Seyfried, as well as her experience working with Neeson and director Atom Egoyan.

Whatís the significance to you of choosing material that challenges the mainstream view of sexuality?
Thatís hard. [Laughs] I donít particularly choose material based on that tenet. I basically just choose stuff based on story. And if the story is compelling Ė I like behavior, I like relationships. At a certain point in my career I realized that most of my movies are about relationships. I do think that at the end of the day, thatís really all that matters, who we know, who we love, who we spend time with. Zadie Smith said something really interesting in her new book on Ė whatís it called? Itís the one with all of the essays of criticism and stuff like that. In the chapter she did on acting, she said that there was an actor that was dismissed as a family film actor as if it was nothing, as if family wasnít the major narrative in our lives. I thought, wow, thatís fantastic because thatís how I feel too. Youíre family and the people you marry and your friends; thatís the narrative, thatís the big story. So Iím always drawn to material thatís really about relationships.

But you canít deny that your roles are primarily not conventional.
Iíve made 50 something movies. If you took a look at them, there would be some that are outside the mainstream, but then thereíd be some that are inside the mainstream. The funny thing about my films is that you can make little piles of them. You could make little piles of the movie that were family movies, you could make a little art movie pile, you could make a little action movie pile.

Can you tell us about working with Liam and what he brought to this film?
Heís an amazing actor. He has a unique combination of being somebody who seems extremely emotionally nuanced and also highly masculine at the same time, which is something you really needed for this role. [Screenwriter] Erin [Cressida Wilson] talked about that in one of her interviews, that producers kept pushing her to have more scenes with him talking to friends. Sheís just like, ĎNo, no, no. You canít do that. He needs to be this kind of loose figure.í Heís there and you keep remembering and she keeps yearning for him, but heís not present in that way. We donít know what heís thinking. We donít know where he is. And Liam is somebody whoís uniquely able to do that because of his vague emotional size.

And how about Amanda?
Amanda too was very lovely. The thing that impressed me the most about her was how incredibly receptive she was and present as an actor. She never got ahead of the material. Everything we had to do was very nuanced and slow. Itís about people kind of building trust in each other and allowing each other to take this pretty far, but take it one step at a time and she never got ahead of the material ever. She was always very very present, like I said, very receptive, very much available too, which was quite impressive to me.

Erin said she wrote Catherine with you in mind. Did you know that before officially signing on?
I had no idea. She told me that much later. She told me that on the set. I was like, ĎWhat? Really?í

When filming the sex scene with Amanda, was there anything you did differently to prepare compared to other sex scenes youíve done in the past?
There was nothing different that I did to prepare than I do to prepare for any other intimate scene, if thatís what your question is. Do you mean was it different because it was a girl?

Well, not necessarily.
Are you writing for a womanís magazine? [Laughs] Whenever you have an intimate scene with something youíre very very prepared no matter what it is. Everyone knows exactly whatís happening, itís usually very choreographed. If youíre lucky, youíre very familiar with the actor by the time you shoot it. Amanda and I had been working together and had done most of our stuff at that point, so we were comfortable with each other. Atom was very particular about how heís going to shoot it. We knew where the camera was, we knew how many shots there were, we knew how many setups there were. So thatís kind of what you do to prepare, just to make yourself comfortable.

What was it about Catherine that you identified most with being a wife and mother?
I identified with the fact that sheís been married for a long time. So many movies are about getting married. Like, ĎOh! Iím going to meet this guy and oh, is he going to ask me to marry him, oh, he did, we got married, the end!í In life, marriage is long and complicated and thatís just the beginning and after a while you barely remember the beginning. Like, ĎWhen did we meet? Was it 14, 15 years ago?í You donít know anymore and thatís the least of it. The idea that this is a woman who is in this middle of her life and in the middle of her marriage and suddenly found herself struggling with it, thinking about it, it was really novel. I just donít think you see it very often and I was very compelled by it. Liam and I have this scene in the car where Iím asking him some questions and it quickly escalates into a fight and Atom hadnít envisioned it that way and neither had we and it just turned into a fight. And he was like, ĎThatís was interesting.í And we both were really pleased with it because thatís kind of Ė nobody means to fight. You donít mean to, you do it, you say something and suddenly youíve fought and then youíve ruined the weekend and thatís it and youíre like, ĎHow do I recover from this fight? How to we do it?í The fact that that dynamic was so preset that these people were people who wanted to be together, wanted their marriage to work, but were stuck.

Youíre kids are young, but did you get any insight into dealing with a child growing up?
Catherine complains about her son, but sheís not allowing him to grow up. Sheís trying to put him back into a child box when heís in a teenage place. So I wouldnít say, ĎOh look, heís just a typical teenager.í I would say, ĎWell, there are two sides to it and I donít think sheís particularly allowing him to be who he is.í

How did Atomís direction compare to other directors that youíve worked with?
I think that he particularly is someone whoís really interested in the subtlety of human behavior and heís also aware that - just how we communicate and the fact that what weíre saying, the language weíre using is not always what weíre communicating. It sounds simplistic to say it, but so often in film everyone has the expectation that what an actor is saying is what they mean, when in fact, life is rarely that way. Did you guys see The September Issue? Well, I mean, my god! The behavior in that was phenomenal. I was so excited to see it because you donít get to see that kind of tension and that kind of sublimated rage and desire and all this kind of stuff [whispers] where everybodyís talking like this. I just saw a play recently and everyone was yelling and my friend, whoís not an actor, said to me, ĎI never yelled that much in my life.í I said, ĎI know. People donít yell.í People really donít. But Atom is someone who kind of understands that a lot can inspire very little and what youíre saying does not always correspond with what you mean. So all of that complexity, heís a master of.

What was the most challenging aspect of this role?
Keeping it within the balance of normal behavior. If you try to one line this movie, itís about a woman who hires a prostitute to follow her husband to find out if heís cheating. Itís like, ĎOh yeah, that happens all the time.í When you do that, you get outside of it and then it stops being meaningful. You have to be inside of Catherine all the time, so that every time she meets [Chloe] and she goes, ĎOkay, weíre going to do this one more time. Okay, one more time,í each step feels like tragedy inevitable. You can see it, you know itís coming, but you know she has to take this - so thatís the most challenging thing to keep in line.

You always have a ton of films in the works. So, what do you have coming up that youíre most excited about?
Well, if youíre reading IMDB, half of itís made up. You canít trust it or Wikipedia, which is just lies, lies! I have this movie and I have Lisa Cholodenkoís movie coming out, The Kids Are Alright. Iím finishing 30 Rock and then Iím going to do my husbandís movie this summer and then maybe something else that I havenít finished negotiating.

And what about your return to the As the World Turns?
I did it already. I did it, we shot it, I donít know when it airs. They asked me to come back because theyíre going off the air. It was nice to be able to go back and theyíre people that I cared about on that show and to say hello and - goodbye. It was nice to see them.

Has the dynamic between you and Bart changed at all? When he writes something, are you #1 on his list?
I donít know. Itís interesting because he was going to do this one project at a different time and when I was not going to be able to do it, I was going to be working on something else, and then his time ended up changing and I was like, ĎWell, why donít we do it when itís warm, in the summer and then we can all do it together?í So I think that we still think of things that way, but I also donít feel like he has to do it. He doesnít have to think of me for stuff, but itís also nice to work together. So, no, it probably hasnít changed much.

What does he get out of you that no other director can?
Accessibility! He has access. I know this because Iím married to a director and sometimes itís impossible to get to actors. They always feel like thereís all these steps to take, because Iím always like, if you can get to somebody and half of the time actors will do it. Theyíll go, ĎYeah, sure. Iíll do it.í Itís just hard to get to them.
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