Actress Julianne Moore may seem to confidently breeze through even the most extreme roles, as when famously locking horns with Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lector as Clarice Starling in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal. But as Moore relates to the Long Island Press in this phone conversation, she’s had self-worth insecurity issues since childhood about being a redhead. Those anxieties have led her to write a series of children’s books called Freckleface Strawberry, as a way of coming to terms with any lingering emotional baggage, and to help other similar kids embrace ginger pride, or whatever else that may be alienating them. Moore is also up to the enormously controversial task right now of playing Sarah Palin in the upcoming Game Change—a challenge which may not be quite as formidable for her as spending her life with freckles.
Talk about your self-image issues, growing up a redhead and freckle-faced. When I was 7 years old, we were living in the Midwest, and there were these drinks that were kind of like Kool Aid—[with flavors] like Fruit Raspberry, and Black & Blueberry, and something called Freckleface Strawberry. And that was my nickname in that neighborhood. Of course, I thought that was horrible. And I hated my hair, and I hated my freckles especially. I just wanted to look like everybody else in the neighborhood.
How did writing children’s books help you deal with that stuff from childhood? My son was 7 at the time, and he didn’t like his new teeth—they were coming out, and he thought they were too big—and he didn’t like his hair. And it broke my heart, because he was just perfect. And I couldn’t believe this kid found all these physical problems with himself. So that’s where the idea for writing Freckleface Strawberry came from…. I very much wanted to write in a child’s voice, and from a child’s perspective. And what [I’m] trying to voice, really, is that the things that loom large in childhood, the things that most bother us, are not necessarily the things that are going to last. [You] are going to grow up, and you’re still maybe going to have freckles, but you’re not going to care about them as much.
Talk about your upcoming role, playing Sarah Palin in Game Change. That must have been quite a challenge. Yes, it certainly was. Whenever you’re playing someone who’s a living person, it’s obviously a huge responsibility. And I have to say that I can’t…I’m never gonna be a Sarah Palin. I’m only gonna be able to portray Sarah Palin within this film. You know, all of us—Ed Harris is playing John McCain—all of us can only represent them within this world. And that being said, we all did a tremendous amount of research. I tried to be as accurate as possible, you know, with the vocal work, and her mannerisms. And I just tried to learn as much about her as I could possibly learn.
Did you get to meet Palin, to get into character? No, I didn’t meet her.
Well, what was it like playing her in a movie? It was a lot, a lot, a lot of research. A lot of looking at YouTube, and reading books, and listening to books on tape: a kind of total immersion in it. That was a real challenge.
Was it hard not to do Tina Fey doing Sarah Palin? You know, Tina was so great, she was so wonderful with what she did. But we’re doing completely different things.
Now beyond childhood, what was your experience like in Hollywood, and navigating Hollywood as a redhead. In terms of say, rejection or being typecast. I was pretty lucky. Right out of school, I started working in theater. And I got a good job on the soap opera, As The World Turns. And I worked there for several years. But the only thing about having red hair, I had a director tell me very early on, that nobody was gonna hire me by accident. You know, because you’re not gonna put somebody on stage who’s got the kind of coloring that I do, and not expect that they’re gonna be seen! So you know, that was always going to play into my being cast. I always understood that. But Hollywood is like that. It’s driven by a certain amount of physicality. So you’re kind of aware of that, going into it. But for any actor, how you look is both an asset and a handicap. That’s just part of the business. And there are times where your look is going to be right for something, and times where it’s not. And they’ll tell you that. And there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.