has reached rarified air in Hollywood. She is one of the few
actresses who is consistently looked at as one of the great talents
of her generation, and yet she is adventurous enough to search out
quirky independent films.
Moore has had a career that
has run over twenty years and started with stardom in the long-lived
(and recently-cancelled) daytime drama As the World Turns.
After first turning heads on the big screen in supporting roles in
the likes of The Hand the Rocks the Cradle and The
Fugitive, Moore’s career exploded. Opening eyes and gaining
praise in the likes of Boogie Nights, Short Cuts, The Big
Lebowski and Magnolia, she soon was courting Oscar gold.
In fact, in 2003 she became one of very few actors in history to be
nominated for two different films in the same
year – for Best Actress in Far from
Heaven and Best Supporting Actress in The Hours. This
year, Moore also returned to television for a vital recurring role
on the critically acclaimed comedy 30 Rock.
However, Moore is
courting Oscar whispers again with the release of her latest film,
The Kids are All Right. Written and directed by Lisa
Cholodenko (High Art and Laurel Canyon), the film is a
sweetly funny look at an aging lesbian couple with growing children
whose lives are thrown in disarray when the kids decide to track
down their anonymous-sperm-donor father.
With a spot-on
cast that also includes Annette Bening as her somewhat uptight wife,
Mark Ruffalo as the free-spirited donor and Mia Wasikowska and Josh
Hutcherson as the children, the film is a moving and funny look at
the modern American family. It is particularly interesting because
of the subtle way that there is nothing made about the fact that it
is a single-sex marriage – this could be about any couple anywhere.
About a week
before The Kids are All Right was to open, Moore met with us
and several other websites at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City
to discuss her latest film and her interesting, quirky career.
This is a script
that you’ve been championing for a few years now. What was it about
the script that really grabbed you?
It was Lisa [Cholodenko,
the director]. It was always Lisa. I met her at a “Women in Film”
lunch and went over and introduced myself and asked why I hadn’t
seen the script to High Art. Yeah, I kind of really was
like, excuse me, but I could have done that job! – Which is a
terrible, very actor-y thing to do. (laughs) And she was
like, “What?!” But, I said, look I think your work is great and
I’d love to do something with you. She was like, “Back at you.” We
had a meeting and she said, “I’m going to write something for you.”
Then, adding to the thing, what happened was it takes forever to get
financing and real life intrudes – she had a baby – and then all
told it took four and a half, five years before we were finally
You’ve had a year
lately where you have had a lot of characters with different sexual
something of an expert here. What revelations and insights do you
have to share?
I don’t think as
far as sexuality… I think it has very little to do with that. I
think this film in particular is a movie about family and more
importantly of relationships. At the heart of every family, there
are two people who’ve got to be together and have children
together. These people have been together for over twenty years.
Who you are when you start, where you are in the middle of it, where
you’re going with it… I think that the desperation of that is pretty
You and Annette
worked so well together. Did you talk a lot before the movie
started about how you were going to do this?
No. Not really.
(laughs) I mean, what we had going for us is that we’ve both
been married for a super-long time. We both had children. She
has four, I have two. The family unit thing is pretty darned
familiar to us. And for the kids as well, Josh [Hutcherson] and Mia
[Wasikowska], they are living in this. They both were still living
Speaking as a
mother, how difficult was it to do the parts where you were taking
your daughter away to move
That is so
sweet. Annette and I were talking about that, because obviously
that’s always… I mean, my oldest child is twelve and a half. He’s
really on the cusp of adolescence. So, it’s something that you see
coming. It’s so poignant. I mean, the whole movie is so poignant,
because it takes place in the last summer they are going to have as
an intact family. And they all know it. They all have that
pressure. They’re all like how are we going to make that count?
It’s really important. It’s the last time. It’s the last time. So
you kind of see it. You see it in all of them. It’s really, oh my
gosh, it’s a lot to handle, for everybody.
passion is landscaping. Do you have any side passions you’d like to
To pursue? I
have lots of passions, I don’t know if I’m going to pursue them.
(laughs) I mean, you know, in any kind of legitimate way. But,
yeah, I have lots of things. I love to decorate. That’s no
secret. I love that.
Have you spoken
with people who relate to the film – not so much in the sexual part,
but from the family point of view – a long term relationship and
then an interloper comes in, or the kids going away to college? What
have people who have seen it told you?
What have they
said? The reactions have been incredibly positive. People
basically think that they relate to it. They relate to it in terms
of what it’s like to be in a family, about what that dynamic is,
just about the natural intimacy and familiarity of that
relationship, of the marital relationship. It’s interesting talking
to somebody about it, too. Marriage is interesting because you
can’t get closer to somebody, really.
Then you also end up, you’re
always individuals. The idea of two becoming one is kind of
baloney. Nor should it be a goal, actually. So, when you’re like,
I’m going to co-exist, you have a partner in your life. That’s a
big thing. I think people really recognize it.
Did you discuss
the script with your husband [writer/director Bart Freundlich]?
I don’t think I
did. I talked to him… I tend to talk to him piecemeal about stuff,
“Oh there’s a scene,” or “this line I think is really funny,” or “I
think this is good” or “I think that…” So, he hears little things.
Every once in a while I’ll ask him to read something.
With the flap
that has been developing over Prop 8 in California [a law for equal
rights for gays which was voted down in 2008], do you think this
film will have a chance of perhaps enlightening people?
I do. I don’t
think Lisa… I certainly don’t think that was her intention. She’s
the first person to say she’s not making a political movie. But,
there was an article on the front page of The New York Times
a couple of months ago about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and about why
it’s important that it be repealed. Because, basically, the more
you know about the other soldier in your unit, the less scary it
is. What really changes people’s opinions is proximity of
knowledge. If suddenly there’s a soldier that you’ve been in an
unit with and you’re like, “Oh, he’s gay? Oh, oh, well he’s not so
different. Just like me.” Or your next door neighbors, like, “Oh,
they’re gay? Oh, okay.” That’s what people coming out and people
being public and that kind of knowledge is what actually changes
people. So, I think this film can be one of new things where people
are presented and it’s no longer so alien.
interesting that the couple being gay was not really even a plot
point other than a few little minor details. It could be any
relationship. Was that something you were aiming for in making the
There was almost
no discussion of that at all, because that is very clearly what it
was. I love the scene where they talk about how they met. All this
kind of really silly stuff about the office and this and that. Then
I say, “You know, you were really funny.” [She says,] “You were
really pretty.” Every couple has that. They have that moment.
That’s what it’s about. These people met, they fell in love. Gay,
straight, it was never an issue.
There is a sense
of realness and intimacy in the characters. How did Lisa work with
the actors to bring that out?
I think it’s in
the script. A lot of it was just what she wrote. She also
is very, very, very well prepared.
She has a very relaxed attitude herself. You can just look at
her movies and realize she’s so interested in nuance and subtlety.
She doesn’t like a broad stroke. She really likes things to
play out through the spaces. There were just so many.
There’s that scene where I’m playing ping
pong with Laser and there are so many things going on at the same
time; that I have this thing happen with Paul, that I have to play
ping pong and she’s haranguing him about the thank you note. So
we’re not talking and they’re not talking and this is happening – I
think that kind of texture really helps.
What did you
learn in making this film that you would apply to your own life,
like the daughter going away to college part?
That’s the good
thing about acting in general. It’s supposed to focus you on
behavior and on being present in some things. So it can force you
to reexamine a particular moment or a particular kind of behavior
that we all have or you have a reaction at whatever. But I don’t
think we always know when it happens at the time, either. Even with
movies. Something funny is sometimes people ask you about a movie,
if you’ve just finished it there’s not enough time left for you to
talk about it, to articulate it. You can’t. You’re just like, “I
just finished it. I haven’t really thought about it yet. I don’t
know. I don’t know what it turned into.” I think life is that way,
too. (laughs) You need a distance where you understand what
Another thing I
really like about the film is though lots of really dramatic things
happen, it’s really funny. You’ve also recently done an important
While you have done comedy throughout your career, you are known
more for drama. Do you enjoy doing comedy? Do you find it harder
or easier than drama?
I said to
somebody earlier this year, the older you get, the less appealing
tragedy becomes. (laughs heartily) So, you know, that’s
where I find myself.
How did your
Rock arc come about? Was it different going back to working on
TV after being in films for so long?
It’s not any
different. It’s not. It was great. They called me and they said
they had a part for me. I was in London. Tina Fey called me about
the character. She said, “Okay, she’s somebody he [Jack, Alec
Baldwin’s character] went to high school with. She’s recently
divorced. She has two kids that are real strung up. She doesn’t
have a job.” I said this doesn’t sound funny at all. (laughs)
I was literally: This is a tragedy! But that’s how it happened.
It’s not terribly different, except for the speed.
No. You know
what? It’s too hard at the age of my children.
You have this big
upcoming comedy coming up with Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling and a
huge cast. What’s that about?
It’s a great
cast. It was fun. To be honest with you, literally, I wrapped it
on Monday. So it kind of falls into that “I don’t even know what
it’s about yet” category.
Who do you play?
Are you going to
watch the final episode of
As the World
Oh, I think I
thing about your character in
The Kids Are All Right
was how she treated Luis, the gardener.
That was so mean and wrong. It did not resolve anything. How do
you live with that?
But that’s what’s
great. Jules is not… I mean, my gosh, what a pain in the neck!
What a selfish bourgeois pain in the neck she is. But how
great, you know? It’s great to see somebody do that in a film. And
you’re still like, oh, my God, that’s horrifying. She’s so
guilt-ridden that she is scapegoating somebody else. She even says,
it was wonderful, she acknowledges it. She is like, “I am so fucked
up.” You expect her to say something about Paul, and she goes “I
can’t believe I fired Luis!” So she knows she’s doing it in a way
to alleviate her own guilt. She’s aware of it and guilty about
that. But then she makes herself conveniently forget it. My God,
in life people have abhorrent behavior. We might
think that we’re all so sainted, but get on an airplane sometime.
Watch how people talk to a flight attendant. People, we’re not all
Do you feel
differently about a film while you are working on it? Do you become
separated from it and then look at it and see it as something quite
Hmmm… that’s an
interesting question. I get very attached to the process of making
something. That’s the other thing about getting older. I’m more
interested in what happened while I was working. That’s the
experience I’ve had. That was my experience of being in the movie,
of doing it. So sometimes what comes out, I don’t really like to
see it: I see it once, maybe twice, and that’s it. Because my thing
that happened, it happened on the set. So very rarely I could see
the films as different sometimes, different than what I experienced,
but my feeling about it are still attached to what happened in the
What do you think
about seeing how the scenes played out as compared to how they felt
while you were at work?
I was delighted.
Stuart Blumberg and I were talking about this the other day, because
the thing about it that is so appealing about it is its tone.
That’s the thing that is hardest to do. You have to… the tone is
not… it is like am I too high or too low? The speech that I have by
the television could be very maudlin. And it can’t be, because it
has to be funny. So you’re like, is the tone right? That was the
most pleasurable thing about it, seeing all that come forth.
Do you mostly
watch yourself or are you able to kind of look at the big picture?
I don’t know. I
really don’t know. I try not to think about it too much. The older
I get, the less it is about seeing movies.
There seems to be
a real renaissance when it comes to female filmmakers recently.
Also actresses have finally proved to studio heads that they are
very box office viable. What do you feel about the renaissance and
would you ever direct something?
I thought you
were going to be, “Are you ever going to be a studio head?”
(laughs) I don’t know. The thing about this movie business is
that old joke about it not being “show art.” It’s show business. I
think gender and nothing matters as long as stuff makes money. If
things make money they are going to continue to make it. I think
there’s always a female audience, too. Certainly in the old studio
days it was huge news. People sort of decided at this point that
there wasn’t. They’re there, they just won’t go.
If they don’t make a movie with a woman in it I don’t want to go.
(laughs) You know, it’s hard. Who do you
look at? How do you enter the story? But directing, I don’t know.
I always say it’s good to have a goal of trying
You are a very
mainstream actress who achieved that playing very offbeat
characters. How do you think that happens? Is that something you
found or was that given to you?
I don’t know. I
think, first of all I was super fortunate. I was really, really
fortunate that in that when I started my advent in film was the
beginning of the independent film movement – and that changed
everything. I auditioned for movies then, I just didn’t get them.
That was in the Breakfast Club days and all those types of
movies, St. Elmo’s Fire and that stuff. I just didn’t get
it. It just didn’t happen. With independent films, suddenly I had
all this work. There were all these really interesting things, too,
things that I felt compelled to do. When I first saw Safe, I
didn’t understand why it wasn’t going to a famous person. I was
like, “Nobody’s playing this?” It ended up being kind of lucky.
And things have kind of come along. There’s still some stuff that
I’ve done that seem way outside tastes. That people just hate.
But I loved Savage Grace, I don’t care! (laughs)
Did you audition
No. No. I
didn’t, but there was a whole kind of genre. But it would be like
Savage Grace, which was the same thing. I hung onto that for
four years when we made it. I loved it. I still love the movie.
It came out and people were like, “That’s disgusting!” So some
stuff succeeds and some stuff fails.
HERE TO SEE WHAT THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT CO-STAR MARK RUFFALO HAD TO SAY TO US!
HERE TO SEE WHAT THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT CO-WRITER AND
DIRECTOR LISA CHOLODENKO HAD TO SAY TO US!
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