Julianne Moore

The much-lauded film actor takes on the Great White Way.

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Illustration: Rob Kelly

More than a decade has passed since Julianne Moore last graced a stage. During that time she's garnered four Academy Award nominations, had two children and married their father, the writer-director Bart Freundlich. Basically, she's worked her ass off, turning out one memorable role after another. There was her coked-up mother-hen porn star (Boogie Nights), her preternaturally intelligent FBI agent (Hannibal) and two different but equally nuanced takes on the internal life of the housewife (The Hours and Far from Heaven).

More than a decade has passed since Julianne Moore last graced a stage. During that time she's garnered four Academy Award nominations, had two children and married their father, the writer-director Bart Freundlich. Basically, she's worked her ass off, turning out one memorable role after another. There was her coked-up mother-hen porn star (Boogie Nights), her preternaturally intelligent FBI agent (Hannibal) and two different but equally nuanced takes on the internal life of the housewife (The Hours and Far from Heaven). In an industry where women still bemoan the lack of good female parts, she does more than manage. Now Moore, 45, is making her Broadway debut in David Hare's much anticipated new play, The Vertical Hour, directed by Sam Mendes. On a recent evening after rehearsals—and after putting the kids to bed—the copper-tressed luminary made time to talk to TONY from her Greenwich Village home.

What can you tell me about Nadia Blye, your character in The Vertical Hour?

On a very basic level: She teaches political studies at Yale and had been a war correspondent in the Balkans. We meet her when she is at Yale. She has an English boyfriend and goes to meet his father.

How do you think the production will be received?

Well, David Hare is one of the foremost writers for the theater; he's tremendously gifted. It's a very complicated, very moving play. Moving in ways people are going to be truly surprised by. It's about people's place in the world and who we want to be. It's very beautiful, heady, romantic stuff. I'm very anxious to see what the reaction will be.

Previews are about to start. Are you ready?

I don't know; this is a new experience for me. I've never done a Broadway play—it's more formal, it's a longer run, it feels more official. It's also very unusual to be opening a brand-new play on Broadway. We're asking to be eviscerated—it's strange but also exciting. It's a very interesting piece of writing: complicated and very much about how we feel in the current political climate.

Are you a political person?

I think everyone is a political person! I get offended when people say they aren't political. To be political is to live. Politics is about how you communicate, how you get along, how people relate, countries relate. Saying you're not political is like saying you're not a feminist. It's shocking—you don't care about equality? That thing about the political being personal: who you are; what you believe; how you choose to conduct yourself in the world—all of that is politics. The idea that languagewise, when someone says they're political, they mean it in a pejorative way! [Pauses] Sorry, you touched a sore spot.

What causes do you support?

I don't know that that is relevant.

Okay. Many actors say they don't read the newspapers, to avoid gossip and reviews. Do you? Where do you get your news from?

I love newspapers. I read The New York Times; I read the Post, the Daily News. I read whatever lands in front of me. I read the Times every day, the other stuff if it's in the back of the car or on the subway. I try to avoid reviews, because they're completely subjective.

So you're like Bloomberg, you take the subway?

Yeah. Sometimes. Most of the time I'm in my neighborhood. When you live downtown, you very rarely leave.

What's your neighborhood slice?

We go to Village Pizza on 13th Street. It's Bart's favorite. During the holidays they have a party and give everyone free drinks. And you're like, What? There's a holiday party at a pizza place?

How do you feel about New York as a hometown, as a place to raise kids?

I feel lucky; you never run out of stuff to do. We went to Mary Poppins last weekend, we go to Shun Lee on Sunday nights; they're great with our kids. There's an incredible stone slide in Central Park, on the East Side near 68th. Kids here are incredibly worldly. They know what it means to live among lots and lots of people. You're always relating and negotiating and talking and engaging.

The Vertical Hour is at the Music Box Theatre; previews begin Thursday 9.

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