Julianne Moore Reveals Her Fallback Career

Thelma Adams
The Reel Breakdown

"I could have been an English teacher," Oscar nominee Julianne Moore, 52, told Yahoo! Movies while discussing "The English Teacher," which opens Friday. She plays a repressed high school instructor whose career unravels when she encounters a former student- turned- playwright (Kristen Stewart ex Michael Angarano).

"I really related to my character," said Moore. "I was that kind of kid who loved to read, who was happier in a book than outside with other kids.

"I would win the summer library reading contest," Moore confessed. "I started acting after school because I wasn't athletic. It was an extension of reading. If I hadn't had my high school English teacher saying I could be an actress, I may not have the career I do."

Asked about her favorite book, the face of L'Oreal and mother of two paused for a moment and said, "'Little Women,' probably. It's a book that I read over and over and over again. So much of that book is about self-determination. Rich family life, a lot of tragedy, and through it all Josephine March grows up and she says 'I'm going to do something unexpected. ' That book started me thinking I could do whatever I wanted to do."

And, while movie audiences recognize the Oscar nominee's success, Moore also writes books. She authored two New York Times best-selling children's picture books, "Freckleface Strawberry" and "Freckleface Strawberry and the Dodgeball Bully"; the former inspired a Broadway musical.

While Linda the English teacher does toss caution to the wind and have sex on her desk with her former pupil, she's tame compared to Moore's rock 'n' roll mother Susanna in "What Maisie Knew." Currently in limited release, the drama is a cockeyed contemporary "Kramer vs. Kramer," in which Susanna battles her partner (Steve Coogan) for custody of their daughter, Maisie (Onata Aprile).

[Related: The Major-League Minors of Summer 2013]

Susanna is a bad mother by any measure. "She's terrible," agreed Moore. "She's really awful. She's the world to her daughter Maisie. She's very erratic, which is one of the most dangerous things you can do with children. Maisie loves her and then she's gone. She's a dangerous mother."

In contrast, Moore herself is a hands-on Manhattan mother of two. She's the kind of parent that drops her kids off at ice-skating practice - not in the arms of a nanny. So how tough was it to play the part of a negligent mom?

"I'm very dissociative with my characters," Moore explained. "It helped that we shot the movie next door to my house. I would leave the set and get my own makeup done in my own house. This family lives in a different world than I live in, but I play some pretty dark characters."

Understatement! What's up next for Moore? "I'm doing the David Cronenberg movie 'Maps to the Stars.' I'm playing Havana. She's a movie star, but she's not like me. She's as far from me as you can get. She's a pretty extreme character."

Watch the theatrical trailer for 'The English Teacher':

Watch the theatrical trailer for 'What Maisie Knew':