9 Milestones in the Evolution of Julianne Moore

In this weekend's Crazy, Stupid, Love (read Movieline's review here), Julianne Moore plays Steve Carell's bored wife whose office affair (and subsequent request for divorce) catapults her husband into Ryan Gosling's impeccably toned arms for a man makeover and life overhaul. How did the North Carolina native evolve from playing a pair of conniving, clichéd half sisters on As the World Turns to one of the most reliably brilliant actresses in Hollywood?

You can always trace a direct line through a few important roles to illustrate what led to an actor's current success. So let's look at nine pivotal performances that track the evolution of four-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore.

As the World Turns (1986)

After growing up as an army brat in the U.S. and Germany, Moore earned her bachelor's degree at Boston University and immediately moved to New York City to begin taking auditions while moonlighting as a waitress. After a few forgettable parts, Moore won her first major role as Frannie Hughes and her long-lost half sister Sabrina Hughes on As the World Turns. Moore stayed with the soap for three years, during which time she won a Daytime Emmy. When it was announced that CBS was pulling the plug on As the World Turns, Moore agreed to return to the soap for a brief arc to pay tribute to the series that helped launch her career.

Short Cuts (1993)

After leaving soap life, Moore landed supporting roles in a string of films like The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Benny & Joon and The Fugitive (as a nurse that recognizes a disguised Dr. Kimble, Moore's brief performance allegedly impressed Steven Spielberg so much that he cast her in The Lost World: Jurassic Park without an audition), Moore received her first real critical acclaim for Robert Altman's Short Cuts. This role is also noteworthy in that it was the first in a long line of complex, dissatisfied wife roles for Moore (Far From Heaven, The Hours, Trust the Man, Chloe among others ). The entire Short Cuts cast won a special Golden Globe for its impressive ensemble performance and Moore would go on to collaborate with Altman again six years later in Cookie's Fortune. (She's also famously bottomless in Short Cuts, if you're into that sort of thing.)

Nine Months (1995)

Two years later, Julianne Moore starred in her first high profile big studio film -- and also one of the few titles on her resume to completely bomb with critics. As the unexpectedly pregnant ballet teacher/love interest of Hugh Grant's commitment-phobe, Moore's character in this Chris Columbus romcom is one of the only two-dimensional parts on her resume. Hugh Grant's arrest two days before the release boosted box office sales in spite of scathing reviews. Moore would go on to star with Nine Months cast member Jeff Goldblum two years later in the infinitely more successful project, The Lost World: Jurassic Park.

Safe (1995)

Moore rebounded from her foray into ho-hum rom coms with her first central lead role in Todd Haynes' Safe that same year. As a housewife who mysteriously becomes allergic to her environment in this drama/thriller, Moore was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Lead.

Pages: 1 2


  • topsyturvy says:

    You really should have made room for 1992's The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. Despite being the third female lead (after Sciorra and De Mornay), Moore stood out. I remember seeing it way back then and thinking, "Who played the bitchy best friend? She's awesome!"

  • Adam Lewis says:

    Moore didn't get nominated for The Kids Are Alright...

  • Brainy Pirate says:

    I've often heard that her performance in Vanya on 42nd Street was the one that really got her noticed by critics as being someone to watch.

  • James Freud says:

    "She’s also famously bottomless in Short Cuts, if you’re into that sort of thing." I love how the writer just casually throws that in, as if, 'Hey I better throw that in cause if I don't then I'll look stupid for not mentioning it'.

  • Eric says:

    Still got it at fifty