The actress ranges from big-budget blockbusters like last year’s “Hannibal,” to medium-indie films like the just-released “The Shipping News,” to small productions like “The Myth of Fingerprints.” While most stars of her caliber would consider doing advertising beneath them, she has no problem signing a deal to become Revlon’s latest spokesmodel, with the TV ad campaign due to premiere Monday. And while many of her peers go for the same safe looks at every Hollywood event, Moore roams the fashion plain from Chanel to Marc Bouwer.
Then there is the upcoming birth of her second child, due in April. Many actresses would cringe at the idea of appearing at a premiere while pregnant. Moore instead asked her friend Tom Ford to design her a Gucci suit.
This multitasking mom, who lives with an indie-director boyfriend ten years her junior, who garners Oscar buzz almost automatically, who shoots beauty ad campaigns pregnant and who appears in many films nude, is finally being recognized for what she is: a true original. Perhaps that’s why it’s less than useful to liken her to some other acclaimed actress (as in the oft-used, and hopefully soon-to-be-banned, expression, “the Meryl Streep of her generation.”) Rather, in her seemingly effortless, but actually rigorous approach to both cinema and style, Julianne Moore is the Julianne Moore of her generation. There’s absolutely no one else like her.
This year may well go down as the year of wall-to-wall Moore. Granted, she’s seen high points before. In 1993, she became emblazoned on the minds of cinema-goers with her risque from-the-waist-down nude scene in “Short Cuts.” (“Oh yeah, that,” she used to say about that scene in the early days. “It’s like I haven’t done anything else.”) Then, with two critically acclaimed films — Louis Malle’s “Vanya on 42nd Street” and Todd Haynes’s “Safe” — she became Hollywood buzz fodder. “That period, right after ‘Vanya,’ was the turning point of my career,” Moore told WWD. “It changed my direction artistically.”
Dodging some bullets along the way (Moore was considered for the lead role in “Fair Game,” 1995, that eventually went to Cindy Crawford), she soon entered the big leagues: nominated for Best Supporting Actress in 1998 for her harrowing portrayal of porn star Amber Waves in “Boogie Nights,” then a Best Actress nomination in 2000 for “The End of the Affair.”
But this year is different, because the recognition of Moore’s talents is spilling over from the screen into the broader provinces of fashion, beauty and style. The Revlon campaign will take her to another plain and dwarfs the brief campaign she did last year for Coach. She and Revlon are mum about the details of the deal, but it is said to be worth more than $3 million, at the top end of what Oscar-caliber actresses generally get for such campaigns. And while they were shot while Moore was pregnant, they clearly mark Revlon’s recognition, and celebration, of her utterly unconventional persona.
The key to Moore’s singular sense of style may lie in such versatility. This is a woman whose $3 million paycheck for “Hannibal” freed her up to star in her beau’s latest indie project, “World Traveler,” and a woman who starred in commercial blockbuster “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” and the intense, low-budget indie film “The Myth of Fingerprints” back-to-back. Moore can jump from high places to creature comforts in the blink of an eye.
“For me, she is an actress who can be anyone,” Karl Lagerfeld, who memorably dressed Moore for the 2000 Oscars in a romantic, black Chanel couture dress, told WWD. “She is not a girl with one fashion look. I think she looks very good in a white shirt and very simple things.”
In fact, there’s a duality to Moore’s style, no better conveyed than in last year’s “Hannibal,” the operatic, gory sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs.” On the one hand, Moore plays resolute, no-nonsense FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling, whose by-the-book approach to catching serial killers warrants a wardrobe based largely around pantsuits in muted colors.
“I wear a lot of Banana Republic in ‘Hannibal,”‘ Moore recently admitted to WWD. “I mean, I play a cop, after all.”
But that’s one side of the equation. Hannibal Lecter entertains a distinctly different vision of Clarice, one that seems to involve a lot of high-end designers — especially Gucci. He taunts her by leaving Gucci magazine ads lying around her apartment, buys her a pair of Gucci slingback stilettos, then drugs her and outfits her in a low-cut Marc Bouwer dress while preparing his last “meal” of the movie. This haute couture cop is the aspirational Clarice.
So in real life, which of the two Clarices is Julianne Moore? Evidently, the answer lies somewhere in-between. “Julianne’s into clothing that is both stylish and practical,” said Moore’s longtime stylist Kithe Brewster. “Her clothing is as eclectic and diverse as her acting career. She’s always open to quirky things.” But Brewster insists that even on a bad day, Moore has more style than Clarice Starling. “She’s way more Daryl K than Banana Republic,” Brewster said. “Her image is funkier, hipper. She’s a downtown girl — that’s a term I use a lot to describe her. And now, she’s a downtown mom.”
Costume designer Mary Zophres, who outfitted Moore for “The Big Lebowski,” concurred. “She’s not a basics girl, that’s for sure. Whenever I’ve seen her in public appearances, she goes for a classic line. And that Japanese straightening solution she’s using on her hair doesn’t hurt either.”
Revlon president Jeff Nugent views the actress as an exalted yet accessible stylemaker. “I’m looking at that copy of Vanity Fair with Moore on the cover, and she’s one of the most beautiful women in the world,” he gushed. “She couldn’t be further removed from the Gap; she’s completely high fashion. We’ve done enough work to know that.”
In fact, Moore has run the designer gamut, flitting between Marc Jacobs, Valentino, Prada and Gaultier. More recently, she’s been dwelling in Tom Ford territory, alternately Yves Saint Laurent (at the “Hannibal” premiere) or Gucci (at the premiere of her current film “The Shipping News.”) In her rapidly changing tastes, sometimes she even outruns her style entourage. When Moore appeared at Glamour magazine’s Woman of the Year awards in 2000, her choice of outfit surprised even her stylist. “She wore a Chanel dress that was quite sheer,” said Brewster. “Very daring, even though it didn’t actually reveal anything.”
But Tracey Ross, whose Hollywood boutique is celebrity central, says Moore isn’t simply a clothes horse. “She buys what looks good on her. She is not label conscious. People are always trying to court her because she gives a very natural, unmade-up look in everyone’s clothes. She makes it human as opposed to looking like a mannequin,” Ross said.
“She is not a pretentious person. Her values are her child and her child to be and Bart,” she said, remembering that Moore used to come into her shop and breastfeed her first child, Cal, when he was a baby. “She is really low-key and a real human being. She’s beautiful on the outside and inside and it shows. Look at her at “The Shipping News” premiere — she’s got an inner glow.”
Yet risk-taking, in fashion as in film, has become Moore’s trademark. Whether playing doomed porn stars (“Boogie Nights”), women in the midst of a nervous breakdown (“Safe,” “Magnolia”), or nymphomaniac avant-garde heiresses (“The Big Lebowski”), the constant in Moore’s career is unpredictability.
“It’s a hard trick to pull off what she does, this weaving in and out between indie and commercial movies,” said producer Christine Vachon, who worked with Moore on “Safe” and produced one of her forthcoming films, director Todd Haynes’s just-wrapped “Far From Heaven.” “There is, after all, a lot of baggage that comes with doing indie films. There just aren’t the same amenities. So a lot of big stars get to a level where they’re like ‘art, schmart — I need a bigger trailer’. But Julianne loves what she does, and she’ll choose the role even if it’s not a big-budget movie.”
“Most actors feel that bigger films are better, that they’re moving up in the world,” commented indie filmmaker (and Moore’s live-in boyfriend) Bart Freundlich, who directed Moore in “The Myth of Fingerprints” and the forthcoming film “World Traveler.” “They’ll get a role like the one Julie got in “Hannibal” or “Jurassic Park” and say, ‘That’s who I am now.’ But Julie doesn’t buy into the hype about bigness. She defines herself from within. She’s the same on the set with Ridley Scott as she is with P. T. Anderson or with me.”
Moore is matter-of-fact about it. “I just feel lucky, in terms of the material that I’ve found or that has found me. I’m completely material-driven. With ‘Boogie Nights,’ for instance, that script was gorgeous. I could hear Amber [Waves] speaking, although I did say to [director] Paul Thomas Anderson that I wish she’d die at the end. I thought they should find her o.d.’d in the closet or something. And Paul was like, ‘But I don’t want her to die, man.”‘ Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who co-starred with Moore in “Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” and “The Big Lebowski,” is hardly one to shy away from a challenging role. Yet, even he seems awed by Moore’s no-holds-barred approach to acting. “When we were filming ‘Magnolia,’ her character is coming apart at the seams, and it’s not an easy thing to live with that role and then go home to your kid,” Hoffman told WWD. “She’s a beautiful woman, a fantastic actress, a mom. I don’t know how she handles it all. It’s kind of intimidating.”
In reality, Moore’s biggest problem may involve keeping track of her workload. Aside from being a Revlon spokesmodel and co-starring in “The Shipping News,” she’ll be appearing in “The Hours,” alongside Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep; “World Traveler,” directed by her beau and co-starring Billy Crudup; and Todd Haynes’s “Far From Heaven,” co-starring Dennis Quaid.
“Every time Julie takes a step up, she feels that she’s that much closer to failure,” said Freundlich. “Now, part of that is based in reality: the transitory nature of fame and leading roles for women. But at this point, it’s just become a joke between us. It’s like, ‘Yes, Julie, you’re a failure, what should we have for dinner tonight?’ At the same time, she has come to a greater understanding of her own psychology.”
“Ellen Barkin and I always used to laugh that Julianne has this fear that she’ll never work again,” said Moore’s agent at CAA, Kevin Huvane. “As if she’s the girl on the TV series who has three months to do the movie until the season starts again.” Huvane believes that, at long last, Moore is developing some residing sense of career longevity. “I think, at this point, she knows that the next job is coming,” he laughed.
Yet, when it comes to assessing herself as a stylemaker or actress, Moore betrays a certain diffidence. “I admire people who are into fashion,” she said, “but there are some things that come with being a redhead. I tend to avoid certain colors, patterns and prints.” She plays down her style credentials, just like — until relatively recently — she fretted over her artistic success. “Bart always teases me about this, he always says, ‘You’re never satisfied,”‘ Moore confessed. “And I never am. As soon as I finish something, I’m like, ‘What do I do now?”” – Peter Braunstein with contributions by Rose Apodaca Jones, Marcy Medina, Los Angeles and Miles Socha, Paris