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Julianne Moore's Journey From Soap Operas To Oscar

With awards ranging from an Oscar to an Emmy to three Golden Globes, Julianne Moore is widely regarded as one of the best actors alive today (at least according to this New York Times article). Her four-decade career has been nothing short of illustrious. One might even say that we now expect Moore's movies to be high-caliber, particularly when she is featured in a central role where she gets to showcase her brilliance. She has proven that she can elevate any movie, be it period drama like "Far From Heaven" or a blockbuster like "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" (Parts 1 and 2).

Moore has over 100 acting credits under her belt, including her Academy Award-winning performance in "Still Alice" and her Emmy-winning turn as Sarah Palin in "Game Change," but always seems to make time for other things of importance: family, charity, writing children's books, whatever. Just like the complex women she has played on screen, Moore has many layers, shaped by numerous interesting past experiences. Here are some untold truths about revered actress Julianne Moore.

Julianne Moore moved around a lot as a child

Moore was born at Fort Bragg, an army base in North Carolina, and her military family moved many times over the course of her childhood. "He was a helicopter pilot and a paratrooper," Moore told The Hollywood Reporter of her father. "And so we moved a lot. We were in the [Panama] Canal Zone for a while, and then my dad was in Vietnam, and we went to New Jersey to live with my grandparents."

Moore's father left the military for a career in law (he eventually returned to serve as a military judge), which took the family to Nebraska, Alaska, and New York. They later ended up in Germany, where Moore attended the Frankfurt American High School for two years before graduating. Moore told The Hollywood Reporter that she went to nine schools during her elementary and secondary years, and in another interview with The Guardian, Moore said she recalled living in 23 places around the world prior to landing in Boston for university. She has said that moving so much taught her about human nature and the impact of our environments, lessons she uses in her acting (per The Guardian).

Her love of reading led to her trying acting

As a child with no sense of permanence in her location, Moore found solace in her favorite hobby: reading. "My mother brought us to the library every week and I read a lot. That's what kept me company. I went from school to school, but there was always reading," she told The Guardian back in 2013. In an interview with NPR, Moore explained that she was never athletic, and so, she took up drama club after school as an extension of her love of reading. "It was like reading aloud, and it was all about story and being in the story. Like, actually being in the book," she said.

Moore did not see acting as a viable career choice until she was 17, when a teacher encouraged her to explore it as an option. "It never occurred to me that the actors were real, that anyone had a job doing that. Movies and TV seemed very far away. I had never seen a real play. I'd just seen, like, high school plays and community theater, and so I was like, 'So that seems interesting,'" Moore said in the NPR interview. "And she handed me a copy of Dramatics magazine with all these schools listed in it, and I came home and said to my parents, 'I'm going to be an actor,' at the dinner table, and they were shocked." Moore told DuJour Magazine that her decision to actually become an actor came "out of the blue" — shocking, given how gifted she is — and she received a BFA from Boston University in 1983.

She was forced to change her name to join SAG

Stage names are common among actors in Hollywood. Winona Ryder was born Winona Horowitz, Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag, and Jonah Hill was born Jonah Feldstein (in case you were wondering why sister Beanie has a different last name). There are many reasons why someone would change their name, but for Moore, it was pretty simple: her birth name, Julie Smith, was already taken by someone else in the Screen Actors Guild. "When I got my first job, you can't have the same name as any other actor in the union. And Anne is my middle name and was my mother's first name, and Moore is my father's middle name," Moore explained to CBS News. "And I wanted to make sure that I used both of their names professionally, so I didn't hurt anybody's feelings."

While the world knows her as Julianne, it seems that Moore still refers to herself as Julie, once even mentioning how she calls herself "Bougie Julie" as a nickname (per The Hollywood Reporter). She also seemingly expects others to call her Julie in her personal life. For instance, in a 2018 interview with Net-a-Porter, Moore said, "Hi, I'm Julie," to the reporter. Those close to her have also referred to her as Julie in public, such as director Rebecca Miller and her friend Ethan Hawke. "Julie is a cinema star. She knows how to manipulate the medium," Hawke told Town & Country.

Julianne Moore started her career in soap operas

Younger fans of Moore may not know that she was a well-known soap star prior to hitting it big in movies. She appeared in eight episodes of "The Edge of Night" and as a stewardess on "Another World," but it was "As the World Turns" that brought Moore wider attention. "I don't know if I would call myself a soap star, but I felt really lucky to have a job, to be a working actor," she said in a Yahoo! interview. "So it was a very big deal that I was able to go to work every day and I could support myself, and I worked with a lot of really terrific people."

Moore played half-sisters Sabrina and Frannie Hughes from 1985 to 1988, roles for which she won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series. She has spoken of how much she learned during her time on soaps, which lasted only a handful of years. "I learned to be a professional," she told NPR. "You might have, as a character, 30 pages of dialogue a day if you're what they call a 'front-burner story.' So you go home, you learn your lines for the next day, you get up, you're there at 7 in the morning, you do a quick rehearsal, you're on camera, you might leave, you know, at 7 at night and start the whole thing over again. And you have to do it. Everyone's working very, very quickly." Moore's last brush with the soap world was in 2010, when she did a walk-on cameo in the series finale of "As the World Turns," the show that made her famous (per The Wall Street Journal).

She used to have a lucky daily routine

Some may call it lucky; others may call it compulsive. No matter what you want to call it, at one time, Moore lived her life abiding by a strict daily ritual. In fact, in her early days in New York City, Moore felt her success hinged on her ability to follow the routine, which she called "The Lucky Way." According to an interview she did with The Guardian, Moore needed to leave her home at the same time each day, follow the same route, and adjust her strides to ensure she never had to pause at a stoplight. She also drank two cups of coffee before leaving the house, which no doubt gave her the energy to speed up to hit every walk sign.

While she has never confirmed she has obsessive-compulsive disorder, she has used the word "obsessive" to describe her ritual, though she no longer follows it. "Those are the indulgences you can have before you have children. Now my obsessive behavior is out the window because you don't have time to obsess," she told The Irish Independent in 2008. "I take my shower at night like a little kid because I get up and get dressed immediately. I don't have time to take a shower before I have the kids going 'mom, mom'. So I'm ready to go in a way I never was. So all that stuff about I need to go this certain way and do that was an indulgence of my youth."

Julianne Moore got a late start in movies

"I mean, I didn't get my first role in a movie until I was 29 years old," Moore once told CBS News. "So that seemed to be slow...and there was never any big surge, you know?" That Moore did not get her first movie role until she was nearly 30 is surprising, not because 30 is old, but because Hollywood idolizes youth and beauty, particularly for actresses. The role in question was in "Tales from the Darkside: The Movie," which was not exactly a career-making film, either.

It took a few more years for Moore to find a film that let her talents shine, though 1993's "Short Cuts" is often cited as her breakthrough. In 2019, Paste Magazine listed her performance as struggling artist Marian Wyman among her 10 greatest performances, and in a profile, Maclean's Magazine said that "Short Cuts" is when Moore "first floored critics." Suffice it to say, she hasn't really stopped impressing them in the nearly 30 years since.

Her family enjoys spending time in the Hamptons

When they have downtime, Moore and her family enjoy spending time in Montauk, New York, which is a hamlet in the Hamptons. In fact, they quarantined there during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic (per DuJour Magazine). The family has had a home in Montauk for a while, though they reportedly now favor a gated mansion over the cottage they once inhabited (per Page Six). "We felt so lucky to have it," she told DuJour magazine. "It was so, so cold in the winter, but amazing."

According to Realtor.com, Moore and her husband sold their cottage in May 2021, after putting it on the market six years prior. The impetus for their sale was finding a drunk stranger passed out on their living room couch (in case you were wondering why they now have a gated fence). Moore used to speak highly of the cottage, which she described as small and easy to maintain. "My husband and I have a house at the beach. When I got out there, I don't know that I am exhausted, but then I go out there and I sleep for 12 hours," she told Holmes Place.

Even Julianne Moore gets fired

Most writers and directors would jump at the chance to work with Moore, so it is somewhat shocking that she was fired from a job in 2018. And it wasn't just any job, but the Oscar-nominated film "Can You Ever Forgive Me?" Moore discussed the incident during an interview on "Watch What Happens Live," when a caller asked her about why she left the film. "I didn't leave that movie, I was fired," she confessed. Moore was set to play Lee Israel, a role that earned Melissa McCarthy an Academy Award nomination.

"Nicole fired me," Moore said, referring to Nicole Holofcener, who co-wrote the script and was, at the time, set to direct the movie. "I think she didn't like what I was doing." The movie was still in rehearsals and pre-production at the time, but Moore still took it personally and has yet to watch the film. "It's still kind of painful," she admitted to host Andy Cohen.

She does a lot of charity work

Moore is politically active and has long been involved in promoting social causes that are close to her heart. Back in 2009, she did a Redbook interview where she discussed partnering with Save the Children, a charity for which she served as a U.S. ambassador. "A friend of mine is their artist-ambassador person. She gets people involved. I didn't realize Save the Children had a US program; it reaches communities through the public school system with after-school programs in nutrition, exercise, literacy," Moore told Redbook. "I look at our public school system and think there's so much we can do to pick up the slack."

Another cause that Moore deeply cares about is gun control. She's actively involved in organizations that tackle the issue. For example, Moore acts as an organizer for Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action, a grassroots organization founded in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. "I remember the exact date. It was December 14," Moore said in an interview with Net-a-Porter, noting that her daughter inspired her to take action. "If I don't try to keep her safe by trying to change things in this country, by trying to keep the other kids in this country safe too, then I'm being irresponsible," she said. "That's when I started speaking out about gun violence and the need for change."

She does extensive research for her roles

People who have seen a few of Moore's movies will not be shocked to learn that the actress is meticulous about the research she does in preparation for a role. For her Oscar-winning turn as a woman with early onset Alzheimer's in "Still Alice," Moore spoke with medical doctors, researchers, and patients, visiting support groups and long-term care centers. "I really wanted to be as accurate as possible with the behavior, so all the physical behavior and vocal behavior, these are all things that I had seen," she told Nylon Magazine. "After all that, I finally felt like I was ready to do it."

"Still Alice" is not the only time Moore has gone in deep with her preparation for a part. To play an opera singer in the 2018 movie "Bel Canto," Moore studied with a voice coach (despite singing underneath a trained opera singer's voice), listened to music, spoke to singers, observed rehearsals, and even sat in on opera classes where young students were training. "One of the things that I find in research is that if you ask a question, someone will answer it," she told Town & Country. "People are generally open and helpful. They want you to get it right."

Moore told Flaunt Magazine that her need for extensive research has increased as she has gotten older — and that some directors have not understood. "I've always made sure that I knew my lines really well, but I am even more prepared now than I used to be when I started out," she said in the interview. "Now, I find that I need to know more and more. I want to know things that are really specific."

She has British citizenship

Moore was hit very hard by the death of her mother, who unexpectedly passed at the age of 68 (per The Guardian). The death shook Moore's sense of faith, to the point where she no longer believes in God. "I learned when my mother died five years ago that there is no 'there' there," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. "Structure, it's all imposed. We impose order and narrative on everything in order to understand it. Otherwise, there's nothing but chaos."

Moore's mother was a Scottish citizen who moved to the United States at the age of 10, and who became a citizen out of necessity. "I remember she was 27 and came home with an American flag in her hand, crying. She was so upset. I would have been six. My father was applying for law schools and you couldn't be married to a foreign national," Moore recalled to The Guardian. "I feel my mother became a citizen under duress, and she never let us forget that we weren't fully American. She'd say, 'You're not American, you know? You're only half American.' She was very Scottish."

After her mother's death, Moore became a dual American-British citizen, telling The Guardian that "it was a way of honoring my mom." She also wrote a children's book inspired by her, entitled "My Mom Is a Foreigner But Not to Me." "All the things about my mother that were so familiar to me were very foreign to the world outside," she told Elle. "This is something that I thought would be resonant for a lot of people I know."

She has written a successful children's book series

Moore's acting resume is so extensive that a lot of people don't realize she has other projects outside of performing. Her largest side job has been writing children's books, which Moore has been doing since 2007, when "Freckleface Strawberry" came out (per The Hollywood Reporter). "When I was growing up, the place I felt least alone was when I was reading," Moore told Elle about her impetus for creating stories for kids.

Moore has since written the aforementioned book on growing up with a foreign-born parent, as well as five other books in the "Freckleface Strawberry" series, which she named based upon her own childhood nickname. "When I was 7, these kids in the alley behind our house in Omaha called me Freckle-face Strawberry. I hated my freckles and I hated that name. I thought it was humiliating and hated it in the way that only a 7-year-old could hate it," she told Redbook.

Despite her success, Julianne Moore still worries

We all know that Hollywood careers can be less than stable, particularly for actors who must appear in front of rather than behind the camera. But one would assume that Moore, as one of the world's greatest actresses, need not worry. It turns out, however, that even Julianne Moore gets insecure about her status in Hollywood and her marketability. "I'm only thinking about what I'm working on at the time and then when that's over, I'm worried about whether or not I'm going to get another job," she told Flaunt Magazine.

This is not the only time Moore has opened up about fearing it could all go away in a moment. In an interview with CBS News, the actress told Jane Pauley that she was industrious because she enjoyed working, but also because of anxiety that offers will dry up. " All actors do. We are self-employed, you know? And talk to anybody who's self-employed, the minute that job is over, you have to find another one," she said.

Julianne Moore and Marisa Tomei are distant cousins

Considering she has been working in Hollywood for over four decades, Julianne Moore has understandably made some close connections. One of these is with Marisa Tomei, with whom she co-starred in the 2011 film "Crazy, Stupid, Love." Moore has known Tomei for a long, long time. Both actors attended Boston University — though Tomei left after just a year — and both appeared on "As the World Turns" early on in their careers (per Boston University). 

Not only that, but in 2019, the women discovered that they actually had shared DNA. The discovery came courtesy of Tomei's appearance on the PBS show "Finding Your Roots," which traces people's genealogy. When Dr. Henry Louis Gates told Tomei she was a DNA match with a previous guest of the show, she had no idea what to expect until Moore's photo was presented. "Julianne? Julie?" she exclaimed. "You know we went to school together? Jules! Oh, I can't wait to tell her!" 

Tomei posted the show clip on Instagram and expressed her excitement at her old friend being a distant relative. Moore reposted a clip from the show on her Instagram, adding her own two cents in the process. "I KNEW WE WERE ALIKE! @marisatomei is my COUSIN!! OMG I'm so excited, thank you @henrylouisgates for letting us know we have identical segments of DNA," she wrote.

There was backlash when she took on the role of a deaf woman

As our culture has become more respectful of people's differences and identities, the conversation has grown around appropriation or the practice of mainstream actors playing minorities, which unfortunately prevents communities not often depicted on screen from taking ownership over their own stories. 

Given that deaf people are rarely represented in media, some understandably get upset when hearing actors take these roles away from deaf ones, as has occurred in projects such as the limited series "The Stand," which prompted a protest from the deaf community (per The Hollywood Reporter). According to The Wrap, it is not uncommon for deaf actors to show up to an audition for a deaf character and find more hearing actors than non-hearing actors.

Handspeak.com, an online sign language resource, refers to the casting of hearing actors in deaf roles as "hear-washing," which they compare to the practice of whitewashing, a historically common practice in film and TV. 

Julianne Moore has been accused of hear-washing after appearing as a deaf woman in Todd Haynes' 2017 film "Wonderstruck." While the younger version of the character Rose was played by deaf actor Millicent Simmonds, many took issue with the casting of Moore as the adult Rose. Even Moore admits that her sign language was subpar, as she stated to USA Today. "[Simmonds] was so nice about my signing, which is bad. It's like talking to a baby, I'm not kidding," Moore said.

She met her second husband on set

Julianne Moore has been with her current husband so long that many do not even know she was previously married. Moore's first husband was John Gould Rubin, an actor and director (per The Hollywood Reporter). The pair were together for roughly a decade before splitting in 1993 and divorcing in 1995 (per The Guardian). "I am not saying that desperately unhappy people shouldn't split up. I was divorced. I got married too early and I really didn't want to be there. I was just working a lot," Moore told The Sydney Morning Herald. "You have to want to be married." 

It turns out that Moore does want to be married, just not to Rubin. Her second husband is also in the business, and their marriage is going strong after two decades. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Moore met her current hubby, Bart Freundlich, in 1996 on the set of the film, "The Myth of Fingerprints," which he wrote and directed and in which she starred. 

They married in 2003 and have two children together, Caleb and Liv. In a September 2020 interview on "The Drew Barrymore Show," Moore gave away a secret to a happy, long-lasting marriage. "I think if you're both invested in it working out, that's important. And then you really have to have a good time,″ she said. ″My God, I think they really have to make you laugh. If they don't make you laugh, it's just deadly."

Julianne Moore is big on self-care

Julianne Moore is a big believer in self-care, which at least partially explains how she manages to be so darn productive and not appear totally haggard. Net-a-Porter noted in 2018 that Moore was attending yoga classes three mornings a week, though she is no longer visiting in person as often post-COVID 19. She told British Vogue in 2022 that she's been doing Ashtanga yoga for 20 years and has appreciated the switch to online classes in the pandemic because now she can do her classes from anywhere, which is essential for a busy actress like her. In an interview with The Cut, Moore said walking is also part of her exercise routine.

Beyond yoga, Moore has a number of things she does to keep herself looking and feeling her best. For instance, upon waking, she drinks two glasses of water with drops of chlorophyll, then has tea, reads the news, and plays a New York Times word game, so that she can have some time for herself in the morning (per British Vogue). 

She is also a devoted fan of microcurrent facials, which she told The Cut is an indulgence she takes once a month. Moore also never passes up a good bath, telling British Vogue, "I take an Epsom salt bath every night – I love baths! I'll take one in the morning if I can, and at night." She explained that a recent job had her getting up early in the morning, so she'd spend a few minutes totally still in the bath "because it made me feel so good."

She has no fears about aging

Though Hollywood tells women they should care deeply about getting older — and historically, has largely cast them aside after they hit 40 — Julianne Moore is one of those actors whose opportunities have only gotten better with age. Many of Moore's greatest roles have come to her later in her career. She was in her 40s when "Far From Heaven" and "The Hours" were released, 50 when "The Kids Are All Right" came out, and 54 when her Oscar-winning performance in "Still Alice" hit the screens. 

In a world where youth is highly coveted, Moore has shown that age is nothing but a number. "Maybe the conversation isn't so much about aging as it is looking at women in their fifties and sixties in a different way" she told Net-a-Porter, adding that part of this conversation is "about giving them permission to be sexual beings."

Moore has a refreshing take on aging, pointing out to Net-a-Porter that we are all always aging, no matter what life stage we are in. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she suggested we get rid of concepts like "anti-aging" and "fight aging" because they're not real since aging is just part of being a human being.

She also has a knack for finding the positives in growing older, even as a Hollywood actor. "We spend a lot of time when we're young trying to make plans and your life is like a sprawl, and it continues to sprawl," she told Harper's Bazaar. "But, people develop, your relationships change, and some relationships deepen. That's actually the beauty of aging—that you get to experience all of this."

She and her daughter starred together in a beauty campaign

Moore is known not just for her great talent and beauty, but also for being a celebrity who has resisted the pressure of getting plastic surgery and other enhancements. She told Allure in 2010 that she does not think she will ever do Botox injections, despite how common they are. "I hate to condemn people for doing it, but I don't believe it makes people look better," she said. Now in her 60s, Moore has a natural glow that has made her a desirable spokesperson for beauty and fashion companies.

Amongst others, Moore has done campaigns for L'Oreal, Talbots, Bulgari, and Revlon. But a 2022 campaign for Hourglass Cosmetics might just be the most special, since it features both Moore and her daughter, Liv. After becoming an ambassador for the company, Moore's first campaign was called "We Glow," which advertised the company's Ambient Soft Glow Foundation. 

Moore waxed poetic about the campaign to Harper's Bazaar, noting that what she liked about it was how it centers the importance of relationships over the narrative of aging (or not). She told British Vogue that she was thrilled to do this campaign with her daughter, explaining that "the whole essence of the commercial is that when we're with someone that we love, who we have a connection to, we look better and come alive. And that actually happened!"

She is fine with sex scenes, but her husband hates them

Julianne Moore has not shied away from sexually explicit scenes or characters, as evidenced by her work in films such as "Boogie Nights," "Chloe," "The Kids Are All Right," and "The End of the Affair." She has filmed sex scenes with both men and women, but at least one person does not love this aspect of her various characters — Moore's husband, Bart Freundlich. "He hates it ‒ which I love about him. It is funny because I have to say, 'It literally is work...,'" she told You Magazine, noting that she understands why he feels that way. "If you felt it was OK for people to kiss your wife it would be sort of weird. But yeah, he doesn't love that."

Another challenge is the coordination of a sex scene, which can be awkward and more importantly, must ensure that all parties feel comfortable. Hollywood's recent push for intimacy coordinators is meant to eliminate some of the guesswork involved in sex scenes and create a safer atmosphere for actors. In 2022, Moore told Vanity Fair that she worked with an intimacy coordinator for the first time in 2021, saying that she "was so grateful to have that help, and to have that shape around a scene." Ultimately, she felt that the presence of an intimacy coordinator allows an actor to "do a better job of actually building the scene organically."