Wonderstruck is based on the best-selling novel by Brian Selznick. In this groundbreaking tour de force, he sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.
Julianne Moore seems to have an intrinsic connection with melodrama enthusiast Todd Haynes. From her Academy Award-nominated performance in Far From Heaven (2003) to her more touching turn in I’m Not There (2007), Moore has worked numerous times with the director. Whether it’s her 1950s starlet looks or her ability to embody melodramatic acting methods favored by Haynes, Moore is a natural fit for the acclaimed director. Now, Moore stars in Haynes’ newest effort, Wonderstruck.
The film tells the story of Ben and Rose, two children from two different eras who secretly wish that their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he’s never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue and Rose reads an enticing headline, they both set out on epic quests to find what they’re missing. We caught up with Academy Award-winner Julianne Moore who plays both Rose’s mother Lillian Mayhew and an older version of Rose in the 1970’s. Check out our interview below.
The Knockturnal: This film, we actually don’t hear you speak. This entire film.
Julianne Moore: Right, right.
The Knockturnal: When you got the script, did you realize that? And what was that process like for you?
Julianne Moore: It was interesting. Just because someone’s not speaking and using their voice doesn’t mean that they’re not communicating. I mean, I think that’s one of the things that’s most interesting about it. And the portion, and the 1927 portion of the film, it’s all shot as a silent film.
The Knockturnal: Right.
Julianne Moore: So, and not only that, but I play a silent film actress within a silent film, so it has this kind of …
The Knockturnal: Double entendre.
Julianne Moore: Yeah, so yeah, it was, that’s amazing, and to learn the language of silent film, too. How is it that things that were communicated in those movies? How expressive were those actors? How do you manage to be expressive and communicative, while still being naturalistic? Those were all things that we thought about a lot, in that part of the film. And then, in the 1977 part, my character is communicating through American Sign Language, which was something that I worked on very hard with my teachers, who are fluent in ASL. And were very, very helpful. And I also watched Millie. Millie, who is such an extraordinary actress, and is so expressive, and so alive. And I need to capture how she was physical, facially, and how she moved, and really, everything about her.
The Knockturnal: She’s obsessed with you, by the way.
Julianne Moore: I’m obsessed with her.
The Knockturnal: She loves you.
Julianne Moore: Yeah, I love her.
The Knockturnal: Working with the amazing Todd, again.
Julianne Moore: Yeah.
The Knockturnal: And you’re his muse. Talk about your love of working with Todd, and why it’s always such a good collaboration between the two of you.
Julianne Moore: He’s an extraordinary filmmaker, and he’s so very, very specific, and so unusual, sometimes, in the things that he chooses to explore, and how he explores them, and how he manifests emotion on screen. When you watch his movies, you see the way he moves his camera. And you see how he frames things. You really, suddenly, have this moment of recognition, because it’s, like, cinematically, what it feels like to be alive. And that’s why we go to the movies, to have that experience of our lives being reflected or opened up in some way.
The Knockturnal: You’ve played characters with disabilities before. Why is it so important for people with disabilities to be displayed on the big screen?
Julianne Moore: Because it’s important for people to see themselves. I would like to think that entertainment reflects a variety of human experiences, regardless of culture, gender or abilities, or race, or age, or anything. It’s like, we’re supposed to represent the world. People deserve to be seen. They deserve to have their cultures represented. And I think it’s important for us, everybody, to see something, other than yourself. To be exposed to it, to have some knowledge of it, to learn another language. All of that’s really important.
The Knockturnal: When you get a script, what exactly are you looking for? Cause you pick amazing ones.
Julianne Moore: I don’t know. I look for the story. People sometimes ask me, “What kind of part do you wanna play?” And I’m never looking for a part. I’m looking for the whole story. And you could have a great part, some character does all these kind of cool things, but the story itself doesn’t hang together. It doesn’t say something. And certainly, only when you get the end script, do you go, “Oh, that’s what this is about.”
The Knockturnal: So, a message, or a meaning?
Julianne Moore: Yeah. Or just an experience, or something. So if the movie adds up to something, that’s generally when I wanna be involved in it.