Millenium Entertainment releases What Maisie Knew on May 3rd, 2013 at the Angelika Film Center before expanding it to Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on May 10th.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How challenging is it for you to find a complex role? Do you think we live in shallow times?
Julianne Moore: In any society, especially as things start to change, people complain about how it's not the same as it used to be and people are shallow. I think that people are pretty much the same. When you look at Rome---well, Rome fell. The things that brought it down were pretty shallow, too, so it's not like we're less shallow than they are. In terms of finding a complex role, I think that everything is complex. You can choose to be simplistic about it, but every role is complex.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What did you draw from your own life when it comes to how your character's family life is in conflict with her career?
JM: I don't think that they can be a conflict. You can't do them both if you feel that they're a conflict. You have to know where the priorities are. Generally, the most important thing is to be with your children. You have to know that they're cared for and safe and that you're parenting them at the same time you're going to work and earning a living. I'm lucky that I have a flexible job where some days I have to go to work and some days I don't. I think that every parent is hoping for some flexibility. If there's a lot of conflict, then there's something really wrong.
NYC MOVIE GURU: When you read the script, what was your instant reaction to the mother that you play?
JM: "Well, she's a terrible mother. Isn't she?" That was my first reaction. She was interesting to me because she had this seemingly desire to parent, but the inability to do so. Her relationship is to her music. She's not able to have a relationship with her daughter, husband, boyfriend or anyone. The times when you think that she's trying to get close to Maisie is when she's singing to her and brings her into the booth. That's her way of saying "I want to get close to you. I want to know you, but I can only know you in here as a musician." That was fascinating to me.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How would you define a good mother?
JM: Children are not autonomous beings. They need to be cared for and loved. From the instant that they are born, they can do nothing for themselves. Your job as a mother is to care for them, love them and do all of the things for them that they can't do, and then gradually teach them how to do the things that they need to do to exist as an autonomous human being. It's a tricky kind of thing to be a good parent because it's about caring for someone fully, but also acting as a bridge to move into the world.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How did you manage to shake off your role emotionally?
JM: I'm pretty compartmentalized. I did say a couple times to my kids, "Urgh. She's horrible. I can't wait to be done with her." But I made it clear to Onata Aprile by letting her know, "If I'm going to do a scene where I'm yelling at you, don't be afraid. I might cry at this point. It's just pretend." I set up all of these parameters. She knew I was pretending and I knew, but that's part of the compartmentalization. We're telling a story; not living a story.