Follow Us on Twitter

Chloe - Julianne Moore interview

Julianne Moore

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JULIANNE Moore talks about making the sexually charged psychological thriller Chloe, preparing for and handling some of the more risqué material and why the themes of the film should resonate with a lot of viewers, no matter what age they are. The actress was speaking at a press conference held during last year’s London Film Festival.

Q. What turned you on about appearing in Chloe?
Julianne Moore: [Adoringly] Atom [Egoyan]. We’d known each other since the early ’90s and I’d been a great, great admirer of his work. I’d rushed him at the Toronto Film Festival and said: “I really, really hope we can work together some day.” So, it was lucky… it was a great circumstance when I received the script and Atom said he wanted me to do it. I was inclined to say ‘yes’ immediately.

Q. Can you tell us a little more about your attraction to your character, specifically?
Julianne Moore: I think that Catherine doesn’t feel seen by her husband, she doesn’t feel like she exists in a sexual way. She doesn’t understand what her husband wants anymore, and has kind of lost touch with her own sexuality and what it is he’s looking for. But then she meets this girl who just listens to her, and who is incredibly receptive and attentive, she kind of starts to spend time with her. And then it occurs to her that she might be able to experience what her husband is feeling, or learn from this girl… find a way to get to her husband.

When she finally sleeps with her, one of the things she says to her is: “Tell me how he touches you. What does he do?” She feels that by being with her physically, she’s going to find a way to feel what he feels and therefore close to him. Unfortunately, I don’t think she ever takes this girl as a person; I don’t think she ever sees her. I don’t think she wants to.

So, I liked the duality of the character. I like the idea that here is someone that is so bereft, and so lacking in confidence, and feeling so unloved that she is simultaneously able to go down that same path with Chloe. That, to me, is interesting cinematically and emotionally – this duality in the character. She’s very much about her own needs and her own relationship and yet simultaneously really hurt someone else and not understand it until the end. That’s the tragedy. But that’s the nature of intimacy and perception.

Q. There’s some quite intimate scenes in this. How did you approach them? And was it a day you dreaded in the script?
Julianne Moore: We’d spent a lot of time together before we shot that scene. We’d had a lot of heavy, emotional scenes and a lot of language, we’d established the relationship. So, when we came to that day, it’s very prepared… Atom knew exactly how he wanted to shoot it, we knew how we were going to do it. So then we made a lot of jokes – which you usually do when you’re shooting a love scene, whether it’s a man or a woman. There’s usually a lot of jokes.

Q. You have played older women in two films recently [including A Single Man]. How does it feel doing these older parts now?
Julianne Moore: [Laughs out loud with astonishment] Older, you know, is obviously relative. You’re older if there’s somebody younger than you in the room, and you’re younger if there’s someone older in the room. I think in both movies I’m really just playing my age, which is 48. In this movie, I think it’s about a woman’s confidence eroding in a long-term relationship, which can happen if you’re young, medium, old, whatever… I think they’ve been together for a long time and there’s something that’s been lacking in the relationship.

Frankly, her husband has given her cause to feel insecure. You see him paying all this attention to much younger women, and not paying that much attention to her. So, that could happen wherever you are in your life. And that idea of the erosion of who you are really stems from a lack of confidence in your partner and can be destructive to a relationship. One of the things that I like about the relationship with Amanda’s character, too, is that precisely what’s happening to her – the feeling of not being seen… Catherine turns around and does it to somebody else.

She basically finds someone [in Chloe] who is responsive and open and pays her all this attention, but then she just projects everything onto her in order to find a way back to her husband. So, when she says to her husband: “You don’t see me; I’m not here for you anymore.” She does the same thing to this young woman who is simply a conduit to her husband. She doesn’t even acknowledge this girl as a human being.

Q. When you know that you’re going to have to disrobe, do you stay off the French fries for a while? Hollywood can be quite tough towards women?
Julianne Moore: Constantly! Jeez, are you kidding? You try and be nice to the camera-man, I chatted up Atom! It’s very unnerving, obviously. The camera is pretty close and – as we established – I’m pretty old! I keep swearing I’m never going to do this again and then I get another script that I want to do… except this time it’s with a girl! So yeah, of course you have a tremendous amount of trepidation about this.

But one of the things I admire so much about Atom is that again and again he makes movies about the human condition, who we are, what we want, how we communicate to one another and this is also an exploration of a long-term relationship and what happens in it. There’s human sexuality and all those kinds of things, so that helps – it all helps. You realise that I’m not a Playboy bunny… I’m not supposed to communicate something that’s completely unrealistic. It’s supposed to be about this woman at this particular point in time. So, while vanity does come into play, at least you have the support of knowing that you’re trying to tell a story about a woman who is your own age, in a relationship. That aside, of course I dyed it [laughs]! You skip the chips, right! Stay off the chips!

Q. There’s a point in this couple’s relationship where they realise they’ve stopped taking care of each other. As a wife and a mum of two small kids, do you take time out to take care of that side of your life?
Julianne Moore: We try! But I think everybody does. Like Ivan [Reitman] has said, there’s a lot that a life encompasses. Catherine talks about it at the start of the film when she says they used to spend all of their time together. But then, of course, you get married, you have jobs, you have children, you have friends, and travel… suddenly what started out as just two people becomes this huge life. It usually becomes a family as well.

So, the thing that you spent, say, 95% of your energy and time on becomes something that is suddenly mixed in with everything else. It ceases to have sometimes that central importance in your life. And that doesn’t mean that it’s not centrally important… it is! But I think all of us struggle with how to keep that relationship alive. And yet it can’t be static either. It’s never going to be how it was when you first met because you’re not in that place anymore; you’re not necessarily the same people. So, that’s the struggle – you’re trying to make the relationship move forward with the rest of your life and make it special and meaningful. And I think it’s incredibly challenging. But that’s one of the reasons that this film is so relatable. One of the things I feel most proud of is that Liam and I [on-screen] seem like we’ve been together for a long time.

Q. But how are you mindful to keep your own relationship very much alive?
Julianne Moore: Well, we try and spend time alone, which is really hard to do. Of course, when you have kids they’re like: “Why are you going out? You went out last night… you can’t go out tonight!” so, you try to do that, and you try and ask somebody to please turn off the football game because you can’t stand it any longer and you’d rather talk to them [laughs]! You know, you try to make time for each other where you can. You try to plan a trip away somewhere… that’s what we do. But we’re kind of just like everybody else that way.

Read our interview with Atom Egoyan