Covering the awards season beat means you are often lucky enough to spend some time moderating post screening Q&As with some of the most talented filmmakers and actors in the world. I've seen some amazing reactions from audiences to some great films and some incredible talent on hand. What I hadn't seen before this season was a sold out theater give a standing ovation to a star at the beginning of a Q&A and then give another standing o after the Q&A was completed. That, ladies and gentlemen, was for the one and only Julianne Moore.
It's been something of a foregone conclusion that Moore will not only earn her fifth Academy Award nomination, but finally take home a coveted Oscar statue this February. Yes, considering her amazing career she's absolutely “due,” but to chalk up her expected win as some sort of lifetime achievement (as some are trying to do) is simply silly. I've raved about Moore's performance in “Alice” since reviewing the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Moore chronicles her character's slow but steady decline into early onset Alzheimer's while triumphantly keeping Alice's spirit in tact. It's truly one of the top five performances of her career.
Speaking to Moore during an extended video interview you can watch at the top of this post, the recent Cannes winner revealed that early on she told co-directors Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer that she wasn't going to perform anything she hadn't actually witnessed.
“I feel like even if I've read it about it and haven't seen it I don't know how to be completely accurate,” Moore says. “All the behaviors in the movie were things I had seen or things had discussed with me.”
She continues, “You know how I have that speech and [Kristen Stewart's character asks] 'What's it like?' and [Alice] says, 'It's not always the same'? That was something I heard a lot. The good days and bad days thing. There isn't a consistency to the disease that you might expect. Someone might be doing well and then have a sudden decline. And then go back up again and they would have periods where they just seemed better or worse. That being said, she does move through stages of the disease and it was like, 'How verbal was she? What spatial skills?' I just had to watch all of that.”
Moore also spoke to as many experts as she could before the shoot and often learned a perceived Alzheimer's symptom was actually something else.
“In doing my research I actually spoke to a neuropsychiatrist and clinicians at Mount Sinai [Hospital in New York] and there were some behaviors I asks them about,” Moore says. “I'd say, 'What about this particular behavior?' And they would say, 'That's probably an age related behavior and not an Alzheimer's related behavior.'”
One of the strengths of “Still Alice” is its supporting cast which includes Alec Baldwin (who Moore recruited to star as Alice's husband), Kate Bosworth, Hunter Parish and Kristen Stewart. The latter plays one of Alice's daughters and she becomes particularly important during this family crisis. Moore has known Stewart for years and in our conversation she pulled out a pretty good impression of her.