This versatile actress has appeared on stage, TV, and the big screen in vehicles that range from indy to mainstream and in roles that run the gamut from risque to mundane. Whatever context, she proves that she is much more than just a beautiful redhead; she brings an emotional intelligence and nuance to her acting that earns her a place among the greatest actors of her generation.
Born Julie Smith in 1960, she had a peripatetic childhood. Her mother was a social worker, her father a military judge, and the family moved often. Julianne was the eldest of three children, and she recalls that she was not popular: a voracious reader, she was hampered by skinniness, shortness, glasses and red hair. But just like in the movies, a hair cut and contact lenses apparently worked wonders: the ugly duckling became a swan, much to everyone's astonishment. She first started acting in high school in Germany; she compromised with her parents, attending Boston University (which they wanted) but majoring in drama (which she wanted), and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts. After graduating she moved to New York and found that a Julie Smith was already registered as an actor, so she added her mother's first name to her own, took her father's middle name as a surname, and became Julianne Moore, waitress and off Broadway actor.
Julilanne's first break came when she got a small part on the soap opera "Edge of Night". In 1985 she landed a plum part on "As the World Turns"; she stayed with the show for three years, earning an Emmy Award for her portrayal of Frannie and her lookalike evil British half-sister Sabrina. She married actor John Gould Rubin in 1986 and divorced him in 1995.
Over the next few years Moore had a number of roles, first on a string of TV movies, then on the big screen. It took a while to make a name for herself, though: her roles were small, and included a mummy's victim in "Tales From the Darkside: The Movie" (1990), a real estate agent in "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" (1992), Benny's girlfriend in "Benny & Joon" (1993), and a doctor in "The Fugitive" (also 1993). That same year she made a splash in "Short Cuts" with the monologue she delivered, controversially, naked from the waist down (and proved that she comes by her titian locks naturally). Thereafter her star rose rapidly. She was luminous as Yelena in "Vanya on 42nd Street" (1994), an adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, and got her first starring role in the eerie "Safe" (1995), about a housewife who develops an extreme sensitivity to chemicals. She had clearly established herself as an actor to watch out for.
Her nose for appropriate vehicles is not infallible; in 1995 she starred in "Nine Months" and "Assassins", neither of which made good use of her talent, though she was able to show it better in "Surviving Picasso" (1996) and "The Myth of Fingerprints" (1997). She fell in love with director Bart Freundlich during the filming of "Fingerprints", and the two are still together. 1997's "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" made her better known with the public (Steven Spielberg cast her, without an audition, on the strength of her performance in "The Fugitive") but it was her portrayal of the porn star den mother to the crew of "Boogie Nights" that earned her a well-deserved Academy Award nomination. (Paul Thomas Anderson apparently wrote the role with Moore in mind.)
After giving birth to a son, Caleb, in 1997, Julianne returned to the screen as an avant garde artist in "The Big Lebowski" (1998) and in Gus Van Sant's slavish remake of "Psycho". In 1999 she was amazingly busy and showed off her considerable range, appearing as an eccentric southerner in "Cookie Fortune"; a scheming British blackmailer in "An Ideal Husband"; a grieving mother in "A Map of the World"; a trophy wife in "Magnolia"; and an adulterous wife in "The End of the Affair", for which she earned another Oscar nomination.
In 2001 Moore won Jodie Foster's erstwhile role as Clarice Starling in "Hannibal", which wasn't a critical success; appeared in the unclever spoof "Evolution"; and was in the disappointing adaptation of "The Shipping News". Undeterred by this run of less-than-wonderful films, Moore went on to achieve great acclaim in 2002 for her roles in "Far From Heaven" and "The Hours", receiving a Best Actress nomination for the former and a Best Supporting Actress nod for the latter. Again, she did not win, but she will be nominated again, I feel sure, and eventually she will win. Also in 2002, she had a daughter, Liv.
All of which makes me think Julianne Moore must be one of the hardest working women in Hollywood.
The Forgotten (2004)
Laws of Attraction (2004)
Marie and Bruce (2004)
The Hours (2002)
Far from Heaven (2002)
The Shipping News (2001)
World Traveler (2001)
Not I (2000)
The Ladies Man (2000)
The End of the Affair (1999)
A Map of the World (1999)
An Ideal Husband (1999)
Cookie's Fortune (1999)
Chicago Cab (1998)
The Big Lebowski(1998)
Boogie Nights (1997)
The Myth of Fingerprints(1997)
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Surviving Picasso (1996)
Nine Months (1995)
Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)
Short Cuts (1993)
The Fugitive (1993)
Benny & Joon (1993)
Body of Evidence (1993)
The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag (1992)
The Hand That Rocks the Cradle (1992)
Cast a Deadly Spell (1991) (TV)
The Last to Go (1991) (TV)
Tales from the Darkside: The Movie (1990)
Money, Power, Murder. (1989) (TV)
Slaughterhouse 2 (1988)
The Internet Movie Database