Twisted mother role in 'Carrie' shows Julianne Moore's diversity, range

The Fresno BeeOctober 16, 2013 

Chloë Grace Moretz, left, and Julianne Moore star in "Carrie."


LOS ANGELES — Actors often get pigeonholed into certain film and TV genres. Not Julianne Moore.

On TV, she's gone from portraying the real Sarah Palin in the political drama, "Game Changer," to the fictional Nancy Donovan on "30 Rock." Her film roles include a porn star ("Boogie Nights"), FBI agent ("Hannibal"), dinosaur hunter ("The Lost World: Jurassic Park") and computer voice ("Eagle Eye"). Her career is full of a broad range of characters.

You can see the breadth of her work now at a local theater, where she plays an easy-going, sexually liberated college student in "Don Jon" and a merciless mother who thinks sex is the root of all evil in "Carrie."

The roles have one thing in common.

"Anytime you do something, you think, "Maybe I'll suck, and everyone will hate it,' " Moore says during an interview for "Carrie."

She does everything she can to make sure the work doesn't "suck." She does research, which in the case of "Carrie" meant going back to the original Stephen King novel. She also tries to find the elements that will make the audience react to the character. In "Carrie," that meant playing the mom as a woman who does evil things, but in some strange way is basing all her actions on a deep love of her daughter.

Although the bloody prom scene is the most recognizable image from the film versions of the Stephen King novel, the key to both the book and movies — including the new remake — is the twisted mother/daughter relationship. It's a mixture of love, hate, fear, respect, disrespect, disappointment and atonement.

Moore found playing the motherly role a lot easier because of co-star Chloë Grace Moretz.

"She's so professional and was always so prepared," Moore says. "I think the thing I love the most about her is that she's a mama's girl. And, she'll tell you that. She loves her mother. She loves her brothers. She's a family girl, and that made it easy for me to get close to her.

"I wanted her, more than anything else, to feel super safe with me. I wanted her to feel if she had a question, she could come to me. If she had any kind of need or desire, she should come to me."

Moore's convinced the bond they formed helped them through the physical and emotional demands of the movie.

As for the maternal part of the performance, all Moore had to do was think of her own two children.

Those instincts went into overdrive in the opening scene, where Moore's character believes she's dying of cancer but is actually giving birth. In the scenes, where a real infant was used, Moore found herself more concerned about the welfare of the baby than the film production. Once she was confident the child was safe and secure, she would switch to her actor side.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at

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