She’s considered one of the finest film actresses of this or any generation. Julianne Moore has garnered four Oscar nominations for such disparate roles in Boogie Nights, The End Of The Affair and in 2002 pulled off the rare feat of two nominations in both leading and supporting categories for Far From Heaven and The Hours. It seems only a matter of time before she finally nabs the Oscar itself because Moore is deeply admired by her fellow actors as someone not afraid to take risks and go into dark places. This year she took another risk, not only diving into a TV film, albeit HBO but taking one of the most iconic, polarizing and most recognizable political figures of our time, former vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the movie version of the best-selling book about that 2008 campaign, Game Change. Due to the uncanny portrayal by Moore she has catapulted herself into the Emmy race. But it wouldn’t be her first. She started in TV soaps in the mid-80’s and won a Daytime Emmy for As The World Turns in 1988. Make no mistake, this year Moore is definitely ready to move up to the Primetime contest. I recently talked to her about the challenge of taking on Palin.
Related: EMMYS: Jay Roach On ‘Game Change’
PERFECTING PALIN: “This was extremely different (playing a real person who is still alive). I mean, the people that I have played before have been deceased and not very well known. They were not certainly well known, public figures. This is somebody who is very, very much present in our lives, even now, so we didn’t even have a grace period of playing, even 10 years. There was no point at which she has faded from public view…So the responsibility to be accurate was really high. So, the first thing I did was call a vocal coach. And cleared my schedule of everything else I was doing because we only had two months to prep too. I wanted to devote as much time as I could to doing the research. The great thing today is that everything is available. Everything is on YouTube. Literally everything (Sarah Palin) ever did during the (2008) campaign have been documented. Because we were working specifically on that time period, those months leading up to the election, between her nomination and the concession speech. That was what I focused on looking at. So I looked at all of her appearances, all of the convention speeches, all of the press appearance, all of the debates and, listened to it over and over. Put it on my iPod, worked with my vocal coach and just did it. My kids made fun of me: I had nothing else on my iPod except for Sarah Palin. [laughter] Literally, I took all the music off so I would never ever be tempted to listen to anything else.”
SYMPATHY FOR THE HOCKEY MOM: “She was under a tremendous amount of pressure and in a completely untenable situation. First of all, she wasn’t vetted so they didn’t have all the information they needed to have about her. And then when they discovered that she was not as prepared as they would have liked her to be, they just put her through the ringer in terms of preparation. And honestly all the research, talks with (screenwriter) Danny (Strong), absolutely everybody talks about how hard she worked. The woman never stopped working, trying to memorize and learn things, and be in… You know, she simply didn’t have the time or the experience really…I was talking to Jay (Roach) about it too, from an acting standpoint and it would be as if you have five directors standing there all telling you different things to do, because that was the sort of situation she was in where everybody had an opinion about what she should say or do or how to behave … It certainly makes you sort of disenchanted about the political system, and I think that would be Jay’s intention with the movie too. For people to take a good long look at how we elect our leaders and why we have this crazy circus like atmosphere that surrounds it, where how someone looks, how they appear seems to matter more than their actual ability or content, so it’s an interesting thing to explore in a film.”
Related: EMMYS: Movie/Miniseries Overview
PLAYING OPPOSITE SENATOR O’BIDEN: “There would be times when I would be shooting something (and was spliced into the actual news footage), for example the Biden debate. I said ‘I don’t want to shoot this all at once. Do you mind if I just take it piece by piece?’ and Jay (Roach) was like, ‘Absolutely not, it’s fine.’ So before we shot, I would look at the footage and we would make sure that I was very accurate before I was ready to move on to the next piece. You’re not dealing with just vocal inflections (of Sarah Palin), but with (her) physicality. You know, the way she tilts her head. And you know we all remember it. This was historic stuff. We all have our pretty recent memories of this. [laughter]”
BIGGEST ‘GOTCHA’ CHALLENGE: “Probably (playing) her voice. Especially, because she has been so widely imitated and so beautifully performed by somebody else. Tina Fey’s characterization of her is something that became incredibly memorable. Because we can all relate to, not only Sarah Palin and her idiosyncrasies, but also to Tina and the satire that she performed on Saturday Night Live. I needed to be especially careful, particularly vocally, because that was something that was so very familiar to all of us…Katie Couric (also) brought the very fundamental issues about Sarah Palin’s candidacy to the forefront of the mind of the American people. Those two were responsible for illuminating the problem.”