Why Julianne Moore's career is all right

By Tim Masters
Entertainment correspondent, BBC News

media caption, Julianne Moore stars in a new film called The Kids Are All Right

She's been a porn star, walked with dinosaurs and had dinner with Hannibal Lecter.

Now Julianne Moore is back in another memorable role as a lesbian mother of two in The Kids Are All Right.

Moore stars alongside Annette Bening in Lisa Cholodenko's comedy drama, which has proved to be one of the most talked-about films of the 2010 festival season.

The Kids Are All Right is a portrait of a family unit rarely seen in mainstream American cinema.

Married gay couple Nic and Jules (Bening and Moore) share their suburban home with their teenage children, both of whom were conceived by artificial insemination.

When the teens (Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) track down their biological father, the family's cosy existence is challenged.

Moore's character in particular goes on a surprising journey.

"I liked it that her emotional state was not articulated," says the actress.

"Often in film, a character's dilemma is presented in a very concrete way. In life, that really doesn't happen."

For Moore, the film was a long time coming. She attached herself to the project in 2005, but it took another four years for the cameras to roll.

She says it was her admiration for director and co-writer Lisa Cholodenko that kept her on board.

"I like her sensibility so much," she continues. "I think her films are so compelling and so full of humanity.

"When I like something and someone, I stick with it a long time."

'Not PC'

Cholodenko admits that having Moore attached so early helped her keep the project on track.

This was despite a postponement in filming in 2006 after the director became pregnant herself, via a sperm donor.

"I felt like there was someone there having a little subliminal pressure to get it done," she says.

"I had my son, got my head back on straight and resumed the project."

image caption, Annette Bening (l) and Moore (r) play lesbian parents Nic and Jules

Despite the unconventional family unit at its heart, The Kids Are All Right explores themes that could occur in any family with kids.

"There's nothing sanctimonious," Cholodenko points out. "There's no rainbow flags, this is not PC - we're not doing that kind of movie."

"She's in a full-fledged panic," says Moore of Jules, who strikes up a rapport with the biological father of her children, a raffish restaurateur played by Mark Ruffalo.

"She has been a stay-at-home parent, her kids are growing up. She has never really chosen something she wants to do as a career.

"She feels estranged from her partner and Jules is just flailing. I though it was interesting that it was presented in a realistic and comedic way."

The "comedic" element includes 49-year-old Moore in some energetic bedroom scenes.

Moore had already worked with Ruffalo on 2008's Blindness. Did that help speed things up on the rapid 23-day shoot?

Oscar buzz

"We had a whole storyline to shoot in three days. Had we had the luxury of a lot of time I don't think it would have mattered.

"But we really hit the ground running, and the fact that we are friends was a big help to us."

image caption, Mark Ruffalo plays Paul, the biological father of Nic and Jules's children

The Oscar buzz around The Kids Are All Right has been louder than a stadium full of vuvuzelas.

As a four-time Oscar nominee, how much attention does Moore pay to such awards talk?

"It's extremely gratifying," she admits. "It's certainly an indication that people are responding to a film and I think that you never become jaded about something like that."

Having embarked on a film career at the age of 29, Moore disproves the theory that there are no decent roles for older actresses.

Indeed, she is one of only 11 people in Oscar history to receive two acting nominations in the same year.

Those came for her performances in 2002's Far from Heaven and The Hours. She has also been seen in Boogie Nights, Hannibal and A Single Man.

"Obviously it's a fairly risky career choice," says Moore. "You're never guaranteed a job at any point in your career

"That being said, I feel I've been very fortunate and I can't complain about the opportunities I've been offered."

The Kids Are All Right is out now in the UK.

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