She rolls into a favorite lunch place near the ocean in full vacation mode: denim shirt, straw hat and Birkenstocks. "Frizzy beach hair today!" she says cheerfully, pointing to her famous dark red mane. Please. The lean, enviably toned yoga devotee still draws plenty of admiring looks.
But it's her talent that ensures she never wants for work. The four-time Oscar nominee, 52, can currently be seen as the deranged mother in the horror film Carrie. Her second career as a children's author is also thriving. In August she released her fourth book, called My Mom Is a Foreigner, but Not to Me, about growing up with a mom from another country. (Her late mother, a psychiatric social worker, hailed from Scotland.)
Check out this video of our cover shoot with Julianne Moore!
Julianne is like your most sparkling dinner guest: funny, frank, warm. Near the end of our chat, her husband and 11-year-old daughter, Liv, swing by to join us, accompanied by Cherry, a Lab mix, and Milly, a Chihuahua mix. (Caleb, 15, is spending the day in New York City.) As gulls wheel overhead and waves crash nearby, Bart and Liv gleefully supply answers to my questions as Julianne laughs. Really, she should think about bringing them every time.
Let's talk about your role in Carrie. You mostly based your character on the original depiction in the book, not the movie.
Julianne: Yes, absolutely. I mean, listennobody's going to beat Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. So it wasn't about trying to repeat that; it was just telling the story in our way. The mother is obviously psychotic and a religious fanatic, and she and Carrie are this isolated little community of two where the child is her only world. And what was so striking, to me, was the idea of social isolation and what that does to a person. This poor little girl, trapped in her mother's crazy world.
Funnyas a parent of one, I can relate.
Julianne: Yeah. Parenthood is a very, very intense experience. This morning with my daughter, I brought her food, cut it up and put it in front of her. Then she asked for a blanket and I gave her a blanket. And there's a part of me that thinks, I know I should be saying, "You need to do this yourself." [Laughs] But then there's another part of me that thinks, Oh, f it. I want to demonstrate my love this way. So there's always that weird balance between the independence that you want them to gain and how much care you need to give them.
While we're on the subject of kids, yours are healthy eaters. How do you do it?
Julianne: They're pretty good eaters. They eat a lot of fruitfruit's easyand certain vegetables. But my kids have always been allowed to have dessert. My husband thinks I'm too free and easy about that kind of stuff, but my kids will throw out a half-eaten ice cream cone if they've had enough, which I've never in my life been able to do.
Were you raised similarly? Did you eat a lot of good stuff?
Julianne: We didn't have a lot of money growing up, so my mom didn't buy a lot of extras, like sweet things. But she did have a saying: "If you make it, you eat it." So my sister and I would bake constantly! [Laughs] I think that's a pretty good rule. It kept us busy. And actually, these days, when you have to worry about additives and stuff like that, at least you know what you're eating, right?
Absolutely. Do you ever do cleanses?
Julianne: I did a silly juice cleanse [before the Golden Globes] for three days, which went all over the Internet as if I was a lunatic. I was eating vegetables, not eating sugar, being really careful. And when I was in yoga that week, I was so much more flexible. My teacher said, "Wow, you're really bendy." I'm like, "That's what it is. It's the food!" Because then you realize how important diet is. Dairy, sugar, alcoholall those things affect you. [Her wrap sandwich arrives] So here I am, having a lot of cheese on my wrap. You can see how long that lasted. [Takes bite] Party time!
Are you into any kind of alternative medicine?
Julianne: Acupuncture. For back pain, it's amazing. I also had a period after my mother died where I couldn't sleep. I mean, I was just in shock for the longest time and didn't sleep for, like, a year. I was just a wreck. And I had some really intense acupuncture treatments, and it kind of reset my nervous system. So I think it's very helpful.
Have you always been into those sorts of treatments?
Julianne: When I was making Safe, actually, I got so thin that I stopped having my period and my blood pressure got dangerously low. And the only thing that really got me back to normal was Chinese medicine.