Julianne Moore: “I like to be in the middle of a story”
Julianne Moore looked stunning at the recent Cannes Film Festival 2019. The Oscar-winning actress was in town for the premiere of a new short film she stars in by Luca Guadagnino: «The Staggering Girl». She plays Italian-American writer Francesca. Guadagnino collaborated with Valentino designer Pierpaolo Piccioli on the movie, produced by the French fashion house.
So Julianne, can you talk about «The Staggering Girl» and what was it about this that resonated with you?
Honestly, I did it out of pure interest and pure joy. I mean it’s a short and it kind of came out of the blue and there’s Luca Guadagnino, whose work I so admire because it’s so full of feeling. So I knew that this engagement in this little kind of experiment was going to be about feeling, about emotion and memory and that’s what I connect to. Luca assembled an extraordinary cast.
And Luca Guadagnino collaborates with Valentino Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli on this. How was that?
Their work is so incredibly emotional, even though they work in such different spheres, I think they conjure up so much feeling for me and so much humanity. We really had a wonderful experience together.
How did you feel about the outfits you got to wear?
I was so excited. I was like, «Oh here we go, I’ll wear green and I’ll wear lavender and I’ll wear red!» And I got there and they were like, «This is your wardrobe». And I was the only one in the movie without any color. (laughs). Because of the story we were telling. But I was like, «What? I came all this way and I don’t get to wear lavender!» What’s wonderful about the film, is that it’s a visual medium. So you have a narrative but also you have these colors and these pictures and shapes and these clothes and you rely on those very heavily to tell the story for you.
The movie explores being a mother and a daughter. What is your idea of femininity?
I mean it’s what I know. I loved that these female relationships were so central to the movie. I loved being with Marthe (Keller) and that kind of intimacy and all these female friendships in it as well. There’s only one man, playing all the male parts. But this is the world that I live in. I’m a woman with female friends and this is how I experience the world.
Do you have certain outfits in your wardrobe that are part of your personal narrative?
I’m so interested in the fact that we feel compelled as human beings to decorate our bodies and our surroundings. We don’t have to. We don’t have to do anything. Everything could look exactly the same. But we have this compulsion like I feel wearing a sequin green Valentino short dress at four o’clock in the afternoon so I’m going to! So this idea that we choose this because it pleases us or we’re trying to say something consciously or unconsciously, is something that I always think about as an actor, I think about as a human being, because I don’t know why I do it, except that I do. So because it creates a sensation in me, I go toward it.
«I’m a woman with female friends and this is how I experience the world.»
Do you remember when you bought your first expensive fashion item?
I bought a dress when I was 17. I would work on the weekends as a cashier at a little store on an army base in Germany. And I saved up my money because I was going to a dance and my mother didn’t allow me to wear black. So I bought a black dress with my money. And I said to my mum, «You can’t say anything about it because it’s my own money.» Which is terrible and, of course, as a mother of a 17-year-old now, I can’t believe that I did that. But it was a really exhilarating moment for me because I said, «I worked on the weekend and I have my money» and I did it.
Do you remember how you imagined your life would turn out before you became an actress? And why did you decide to become an actress?
It was something I literally did as an after-school thing. It was because I couldn’t do sports so I went out of the play (laughs). I liked to read. My favorite thing to do was, to go to the library and check out all the books and read them. So I liked the feeling of being in the middle of a story. I found when I started acting, it felt like I was inside a book.
When I was 10 years old we lived in Alaska for a year and I would go to the movie theatre every week. I got to see «Minnie and Moskowitz», Cassavetes film, «A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich». So I think my cinematic tastes were being shaped long before my acting tastes. But I wanted to be a doctor! (laughs)
Have you ever accepted roles simply for the power of cinema and how it can affect the audience?
There has to be something in it intrinsically for me as a person, to connect to. There has to be something that I’m relating to, a story that I want to tell, that I want to be in. If it’s just going to be like, «This is good for you» well then that’s just like medicine or something and I don’t think anybody goes to the movies for that reason. We go to have a human experience and emotional experience and some kind of connection to it. I’m doing something because of the point of view of the director, because of the material, because of my personal connection to it…
What makes a great director?
I think every actor is different and one of the things that I admire so much with directors are the ones that acknowledge that. The same way that as an actor I know that every director’s technique, is different so I have to try and figure out their process. Then I see directors do that with large casts of actors and know that. This person needs this and this person needs that. But it’s the very collectiveness of filmmaking that’s very exciting. We never know the outcome, because there is a different set of personalities every single time. Conducted by JENNY DAVIS/THE INTERVIEW PEOPLE