Julianne Moore is an actress who strives for variety even when it comes to movie love triangles. This year alone she appeared in the Fatal Attractionesque Chloe with Amanda Seyfried and on 30 Rock as Nancy Donovan, the Irish lass who competed unsuccessfully for Alec Baldwin's affections. Next up, a hot affair with Mark Ruffalo that doesn't sit well with her longtime lesbian partner (Annette Bening) in The Kids Are All Right. TIME talked to Moore about the film, Ruffalo's universal appeal and Boston accents.
The Kids Are All Right was shot in 21 days. That's not even enough time to find a good parking spot for your movie trailer.
I was on set for only 18 days! Mark and I have an entire storyline to ourselves that was shot in three days. I kid you not. That's really hairy. But when that's what you got, that's what you do.
If there's anyone who would be cast as a lesbian-relationship buster, it's going to be Ruffalo, right?
He's so male. I love how he comes into the movie, because until he does, the movie has such a feminine energy. And suddenly he comes in all hairy with his beard and his leather jacket and his motorcycle. It's so funny to see.
But his charm was pretty key for the part?
I thought so. Mark passed [on the film] initially. We've been friends since we made Blindness, and I'm also really good friends with his wife Sunrise. He told me he passed because he didn't want to be away from his wife and kids. So it was, Grumble, grumble, grumble. Then Sunrise and I were texting about something else, and she asked whatever happened to that movie I was doing that Mark had the script for. When I told her he had passed, she was like, What? She said, "That's ridiculous. I really liked that movie. He should just do it." It wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Sunrise.
One thing I learned from this movie is that some lesbian couples like gay-male porn. News to you too?
That was news to me. Who knew? But I loved that scene. I loved the line about how normally the inauthenticity of the lesbian scenes in [porn] is not arousing because you know they are just pretending. I liked all that sexual stuff and that they are struggling with the idea that their son might be gay and how they talk to him about it. It's funny and interesting.
What kind of prep work did you do to play Bening's longtime partner?
I never do any prep work. Everything comes from the script, and the script here was fantastic. I liked how my character, Jules, wears those old concert T-shirts she has held onto for years. There's something about her deliberately disheveled appearance that's very particular. It's a place she feels comfortable. And it's not a present place. She's hanging on to this thing. [Director Lisa Cholodenko] said she really liked this lesbian-surfer thing I was doing with my voice, and it made me laugh; I was doing Lisa. I told her later.
Any need to hang out with a lesbian couple for the vibe?
The thing I have going for me is that I have been with someone for 15 years now, and we have two children. So that's not any different than any of the lesbian or gay-male parents I know. Parenting is parenting. It's the person rather than your sexuality that defines you.
You and Ruffalo have some explicit scenes during your affair. Does it help to know his real-life wife in a situation like that?
It helps. I know him; I love him. I really trust him. Sunrise is great; I think she trusts me. We had to do the sex scenes in just a few hours. And it was, like, 115 degrees. But he made it a pleasure to do.
Tell us about your return to As the World Turns in April after playing Frannie Hughes in the '80s.
I was only on set for a half an hour. I literally walked on and said, "Mom and Dad, hi. Happy anniversary." It was totally fun, and I was so glad I did it. The show is going off the air after more than 60 years. It was my first big job. And it was nice to go back and say, Thank you for being so kind to me.
What was your biggest lesson from soap operas?
To be prepared. The great thing about working on television is you have to work very, very quickly. And in order to work quickly, you have to be ready. You need to know your lines and know what you are going to do. The director is not going to elicit a performance. That's not the director's job. You supply the performance. That's something you learn in daytime television. You are responsible for your own work.
Your 30 Rock character is out of the race as Baldwin's love interest. Could she come back?
We haven't found a body. If they asked me to come back, I would happily come back. They're great.
Some folks criticized your Boston accent on the show. Did that hurt?
It's a pretty old-fashioned accent. It's not current. Nancy's accent is based on a lot of people I knew tending bar in Boston. It's from a lot of people from Dorchester. It's Boston bar-earned. And [30 Rock executive producer and writer] Robert Carlock, who is from Massachusetts, liked it. That's what matters most. It's pretty broad and working class. If you like it, you like it.
And now you're going to play the Virgin Mary in Elektra Luxx.
It's one scene. My God, IMDB. I do hate it. It's all misinformation, that's the problem.
But it is one scene. What would Catholic Nancy Donovan say about this?