Emmys 2012: Julianne Moore on Becoming Sarah Palin and Moving to TV Full Time

3:30 PM PST 08/21/2012 by Merle Ginsberg
Jeff Fusco/Getty Images; Phillip V. Caruso/HBO

"I would for the right material," the "Game Change" star tells THR. "Movie studios aren't making too many dramas anymore; they're in the superhero business. Material for television is much, much stronger for actors now."

Julianne Moore's nomination for best actress in a miniseries/movie for HBO's Game Change is the New York-based actress' first big dose of Emmy love -- well, sort of. "I did win a Daytime Emmy for As the World Turns in 1988," she laughs. "But I couldn't attend the ceremony because I was playing Ophelia in Hamlet at the Guthrie Theater. So they called me up and told me I won!" From soaps to Shakespeare, Boogie Nights to The Kids Are All Right, Moore, 51, has come a long way during her nearly 30-year career. And it's her embodiment of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin on the 2008 campaign trail that may net the actress her first dose of Primetime Emmy gold. Here, the married mother of two muses on her Palin legacy, filming the Carrie reboot and reteaming with "The Dude."

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The Hollywood Reporter: Have you seen the YouTube mashup of Sarah Palin delivering speeches, with each clip followed by you doing the same speeches in Game Change?

Julianne Moore: People have told me about it. But I can't watch it; it might be disturbing. I'm only going to see the flaws. The good and the bad about the part is how well-documented her every move was.

THR: You really notice in the video that you hold your mouth just like she does. She has a very particular way of pronouncing words.

Moore: Thanks for noticing. I worked hard on that. I definitely positioned my mouth in her specific way. It's funny when people tell me I look just like her. No, I don't. I wore contact lenses with big irises to make my eyes look bigger, like hers, and they did all kinds of shading and contouring on my face. Sarah Palin's real quality is that she is her own best creation.

THR: It sounds like you spent a lot of time becoming her, inside and out. Were you able to shake her mannerisms after you were done filming?

Moore: Yes. For two months before the shoot and while we were shooting, she was on my iPod. But when we wrapped, I was done -- for good! She's certainly someone who appeals to a broad number of people. She's attractive, energetic, very charismatic. That's what it takes to get elected now. Look at Clinton and Obama. But we shouldn't require our politicians to be movie stars. Then again, we're all influenced by charisma. It's hard not to be. We all collectively fall for it.

THR: Now that you've crossed an important prestige threshold for an actor -- doing an HBO movie -- would you ever consider jumping to cable full time as many of your film peers have in the past decade?

Moore: I have a 10-year-old and a 14-year-old at home, so I'm not sure this is the right time. But I would for the right material. Movie studios aren't making too many dramas anymore; they're in the superhero business. Material for television is much, much stronger for actors now.

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THR: Are you excited about attending the Emmys? Do you still enjoy the craziness of awards shows, even after earning four Oscar noms and six Golden Globe nominations?

Moore: Sure. But actually, I don't know much about the Emmys. I don't even know where they're held. The red carpet can be scary, but I do have some really nice dress options I haven't made my mind up about yet. The dress part is fun. How do they do the seating at the Emmys?

THR: The movie stars will definitely be in the front.

Moore: Well, at the Golden Globes, they put all the bigger stars in the front; the movie stars in the front, TV actors in the back. But even as a movie star, you can be outseated by a bigger star in any given year. It's kind of hilarious. You have to take it in stride.

THR: You just wrapped the new film version of Carrie last week in Toronto. What was that experience like?

Moore: Kimberly Peirce directed it. I love her. She was so specific in exploring the relationship between the mother [Moore's role] and the daughter, played by Chloe Moretz. She allowed me to create something of my own. I took more from Stephen King's novel than Brian De Palma's original movie. In the book, she's a fundamentalist and has her own church. But in the film, she's obviously mentally ill.

THR: So you're probably not going to, um, look your best in this movie.

Moore: It's certainly different, my look. Oh my God, I look awful! I have to do a comedy next! I could not wear any makeup -- it's a long way from the red carpet.

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THR: How nervous are you to look so stripped down?

Moore: I think in our business, you're likely to feel that way. Letting go of your vanity is not easy. But if that character wore makeup, you'd never believe her. Anyway, with actors, all our ages are out there for all to see -- you can't hide anything, really. And it's kind of a relief. This is my age, this is what I look like without makeup on -- who cares? That youth culture -- that lying about your age -- it's all denial of death anyway.

THR: You've been very busy shooting other projects, too. What else do you have coming down the pipeline?

Moore: What Maisie Knew, a film with Alexander Skarsgard and Steve Coogan, a version of the Henry James novel that's going to the Toronto film festival. I might go, depending on my kids and the school calendar. Then I did Don Jon's Addiction, which stars and was directed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He's so smart and a very good director. People will be surprised.

THR: Didn't you also recently team up with your Big Lebowski co-star Jeff Bridges again?

Moore: Yes, for The Seventh Son, a great big fantasy movie, and I've never done a fantasy movie. Getting in and out of those costumes is intense. I absolutely love Jeff, and I hadn't seen him in years. I play a witch, and he's a witch hunter.

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THR: I was just looking at your IMDb page, and if I'm counting correctly, with all the films you've just finished, you've made at least 60 movies. That's very impressive.

Moore: It's almost embarrassing! (Laughs.) I was talking to my manager Evelyn O'Neill the other day, and we realized we've been working together for 22 years. It's pretty amazing. I'm so happy to keep reinventing and doing roles that are very different from one another. Not everyone gets that opportunity, and I'm very aware of that.

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