Role Recall: Julianne Moore on starting in soap operas, working while pregnant and winning that elusive Oscar

Few actors have so willingly put themselves through as many emotional grinders as Julianne Moore.

In 1993's Short Cuts, the Robert Altman film that first brought her critical notice, she delivered a rousing monologue in which her character admits to infidelity while wearing nothing below the waist. In 1997's Boogie Nights, the darkly comedic drama that would land her the first five of Oscar nominations, she plays one of the most tragic figures, an aging, coke-snorting porn star who longs for the son that ran away from her.

The year 2002 marked a double whammy, with Moore earning Oscar noms for playing two disparate yet distraught housewives, one who almost commits suicide and then leaves her family in The Hours, and another who grapples with the fact that her husband is gay in Far From Heaven. Moore later won an Academy Award for her gut-wrenching portrayal of a woman slipping into dementia caused by ALS in 2014's Still Alice.

In her latest film, After the Wedding, a remake of the 2006 Danish Oscar nominee that's written and directed by her husband Bart Freundlich, Moore's media power broker Theresa (who promises to fund Michelle Williams's orphanage in India with some strings attached) is hardly the most sympathetic character. But she undoubtedly own's the film's most utterly devastating scene.

Those roles, however, are merely a sampling of her deeply impressive and eclectic body of work, which have also included mainstream hits like The Lost World: Jurassic Park and The Hunger Games sequels.

In our latest episode of Role Recall, the celebrated 58-year-old performer talks about her humble beginnings on the soap opera As the World Turns and the horror film Tales from the Darkside (1990), how some of her most memorable films (The Big Lebowski, The Hours, Far From Heaven) were shot while she was pregnant with her two children, and her favorite moment with a "resentful" Jennifer Lawrence on the set of The Hunger Games.

Some highlights:

Julianne Moore in 'As the World Turns'
Julianne Moore in 'As the World Turns'

As the World Turns (1985-88)

After beginning her career off-Broadway, Moore caught her first big break when she was cast in dual roles as half-sisters Frannie and Sabrina Hughes (the latter evil, natch) in the long-running CBS soap opera that ended in 2010. "I don't know if I would call myself a soap star, but I felt really lucky to have a job, to be a working actor. So it was a very big deal that I was able to go to work every day and I could support myself, and I worked with a lot of really terrific people. Marisa Tomei was on the show when I was there. We played best friends."

Moore divulged the most bonkers arc that her character(s) endured during her three-year run, and it was sufficiently soapy: "One of the plots that was so terrible, I remember the bad one slept with the good one's boyfriend and the boyfriend said that it was dark and he couldn't tell the difference. And I thought, that's terrible!"

Boogie Nights (1997)

Paul Thomas Anderson's beloved drama about the porn industry in 1970s Los Angeles featured an incredible ensemble cast that also included Mark Wahlberg, Heather Graham, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy and the late actors Philip Seymour Hoffman and Burt Reynolds. "We were all pretty close," she said. "It was interesting working with Burt. Because here was this guy who had been the biggest box-office star in the world in the '70s, and we were making this little movie — then it was a little movie in the '90s, and we were all in honey wagons — and I watched how good-naturedly he handled the entire thing. That was pretty remarkable."

Julianne Moore in 'The Big Lebowski'
Julianne Moore in 'The Big Lebowski'

The Big Lebowski (1998)

Moore was pregnant with her first child during the making of the Coen brothers cult classic, in which she played eccentric artist Maude Lebowski opposite Jeff Bridges's iconic stoner. "I had to be in a harness and I didn't want to tell anybody I was pregnant because I wanted to be able to do it," she said, referencing the scene in which Maude paints by zipline. "But I loved every minute of it. I loved how precise the dialogue was. I loved working with Jeff. He was the one actor I've worked with, who, I couldn't look him in the eye because I would laugh too hard, so I had to look kind of below his face when we were doing scenes together."

The actress discussed the slow-burn effect of the movie, which was originally deemed a failure. "When I saw it, I was like, 'Oh my God, this is so funny.' And then the next day all the reviews came out and they killed it. And then the movie kind of bombed. And I was like, 'That seems weird. I loved it. I thought it was funny.' And then gradually people started talking about it, people would stop me on the street, they started quoted lines, and you realized that it had become this big phenomenon."

The Hunger Games (2014-15)

Moore played rebel leader President Coin in the third and fourth films in the hit Jennifer Lawrence-led series, Mockingjay — Part 1 (2014) and Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015). And she can thank a couple family members for the introduction. "My son had read the books and really, really loved them. … And then my daughter was 10 and she was starting [them], she had the very first volume. And we were on vacation and I had nothing to read and she was in the water so I picked up her book and I was like, 'This is phenomenal.' And I tore through them. And then I thought, 'Oh, I think there's a part for me.' And I actually called and said, 'Who's playing President Coin?' Because I wanted to be part of the series."

Moore loved Lawrence, whose star was helped launch by the franchise. "She's so talented. And she's really smart and fun and has a great sense of humor, and really, really present. And she's just refreshing, I think, as an actor, and as a person," Moore said. "The first time I met her, I was in the makeup chair and she came in, it was her makeup artist who was working on me. And I said, 'Oh, I'll get up.' And she goes, 'No, no, no. Just stay there and I'll secretly resent you.' And I thought, 'Oh, I like her a lot.'"

After the Wedding is now playing in New York and Los Angeles. Watch the trailer:

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