Julianne Moore exudes warmth. It’s the flaming hair, yes, but it’s everything about her: the ivory skin spattered with freckles, her joyous whoop of a laugh. Many sentences end in a conspiratorial “you know?,” a vocal fry that draws you in, making you feel like you’re part of Julie’s gang rather than just the latest in a long succession of junket interviews. She tells me I look “so pretty.”
We’re sitting on a couch in a suite at the Shangri-La Hotel during the Toronto International Film Festival, and I’m close enough to Moore to see how spectacular the 53-year-old mother of two looks in the flesh. She’s clad in a draped cream Alexander Wang shift that is sublimely age appropriate, yet cool, too. The L’Oréal Paris face is in town to celebrate the launch of the brand’s new Fibralogy haircare line, as well as to fete TIFF selections Maps to the Stars, her first collaboration with David Cronenberg, and Still Alice, about a woman dealing with early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Moore has virtually no villains in her filmography, but the grotesque of Maps’ Havana Segrand—for which she has already won the Award for Best Actress at the Cannes Film Festival—may come the closest. A vain, shallow B-lister clinging to the vestiges of youth and sexual omnipotence, she’s prone to hiring and firing “chore whores,” white-knuckling through mercenary threeways and grilling her assistant about her love life while on the toilet. “One of the saddest things about Havana is that she doesn’t have any friends,” says Moore. “Everybody she’s friends with, she’s paying.”
Her performance in Maps is one of her most fearless, fantastic yet—and so is her wardrobe, which is a 180 from Moore’s own style. “Everything is transparent,” she says. “It’s an Hervé Léger bandage dress or, like, a tank top with a coloured bra underneath. All very sexualized and not very age appropriate.”
Moore has suffered her own sartorial don’ts over the years—early premiere shots show awkward suiting and matronly ensembles of mid-calf dresses and low heels. Her No. 1 fashion regret is transparency: “The many, many times the flash went off and you could see things!”
“I think it’s gotten better, as I’ve had more and more access to really beautiful clothes,” Moore says. “It’s a privilege. To try on these couture pieces, to wear them, I mean, it’s fun. It’s so fun.” Regal red-carpet Moore isn’t really the real Moore, however. Less is Moore. “There’s a huge divide between what you do on the red carpet and what you do in your real life. One of the things I’ve come to realize is that I have to wear comfortable shoes in New York City, otherwise I can’t get around. I need to move quickly—I have stuff to do. When I see those people on the street looking great, I’m like, that I can’t accomplish … I just can’t; it’s too hard, you know? Something has to give.”
So when it comes to clothes, she looks for sensible pieces, but keeps it interesting by choosing items with beautiful construction: simple shapes in ivory, black, grey. This is the woman who got married—to foxy 10-years-younger director Bart Freundlich—in a lavender Prada slip dress and a pair of long, sparkly earrings borrowed from pal Ellen Barkin.
That dress is one of the few pieces Moore has held onto. She can still fit into an Aran sweater her mother brought her back from London when Moore was 12. She passed her school kilts on to her own daughter, Liv, who, in turn, outgrew them. She’s practical, not precious, about the exquisite Tom Ford, Dior and YSL gowns she shimmies into and out of.
Moore’s saved some of these couture pieces for her daughter, but not many. “I’m not very sentimental about clothes. I like to give them away,” she says. “Sometimes it’s been nice, when there are special dresses, to be able to give them to somebody who needs a dress for something. Then, you know, you want the dresses to go on and have a life.”