Interviewing Julianne Moore is not exactly work. It's more like hanging out with your coolest, most supportive mom friend. She draws out your confidences, and soon you're gossiping about the stuff all women go through when they're juggling kids, job, aging parents, and a changing body and sense of self. "You too?" "Oh, that happened to me and…" "Really? No way!"
Moore's New York City home, however, doesn't particularly resemble my mom friends' abodes, I realized when I walked into her West Village townhouse on a balmy September day. The parlor floor looks like an art gallery plunked down in the middle of a Montana mountain lodge, with faux animal hide chairs, a reclaimed tree-trunk coffee table, and giant framed art photos. One of the most arresting photos, depicting an elderly African-American woman in her 1950s-era kitchen, hangs above wide-planked, dark wood floors. (Yes, while I'm there, a photography crew from Architectural Digest is onsite shooting in the back garden.)
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Despite the designer touches, this is also a home ringing with the life that Moore, 51, and her husband, movie director Bart Freundlich, have built together. Best known for her achingly vulnerable roles in films like Far From Heaven, Boogie Nights, and The Kids Are All Right, Moore opens the door with a warm, easy smile and immediately brings in two bottles of "bubbly water," warning that "it's lemony, just so you're not surprised." She points out an enormous photo in the hallway, one in a series called the Apron Project that pays tribute to that vanishing kitchen-clothing staple and the domestic lives of the women who once wore aprons.
Before sitting, Moore jokes with her 9-year-old daughter, Liv, and sends her off with a snack to do her homework. Proudly, she shows off the latest picture of her kids, Liv and 14-year-old Caleb, sporting goofy grins, ball caps, and matching T-shirts at summer camp. Freundlich saunters in wearing cargo shorts and a backpack and calls down to joke with Liv at work on the floor below.
Casual in a moss-green top and soft chocolate-brown pants, Moore settles herself on the couch with her black Labrador-terrier mix, Cherry, sniffing around her toes as she talks. Her calm manner belies her frenzied schedule. Yesterday, the four-time Academy Award nominee finished shooting What Maisie Knew, a modern retelling of the Henry James novel. On Monday, she starts a tour for her new book, the third in the popular Freckleface Strawberry children's series. Then she heads to upstate New York to resume filming The English Teacher, with actor Greg Kinnear.