Film Streams Feature VII: Julianne Moore in conversation with Alexander Payne

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On April 24, Films Streams hosted its Feature VII event at the Holland Center where Oscar-winning director and Omaha native, Alexander Payne, led a conversation with Oscar-winning actress, Julianne Moore.

The event was full of films and laughter as a packed auditorium got to listen in on an intimate interview between these two incredible artists. It began with Films Streams Executive Director, Rachel Jacobson, welcoming everyone to the event and discussing the exciting renovations for The Dundee Theatre.

The theatre will hopefully be finished by the end of this year, just in time for the showing of Alexander Payne’s new film, Downsizing, staring Matt Damon, that was shot here in Omaha.

Payne, who is also on the board of directors for Film Streams, came out and introduced his guest for the evening, Julianne Moore, who is known for her roles in Still Alice, which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress, Children of Men, The Kids are Alright and Boogie Nights, just to name a few.

Moore was an “Army brat” that lived in Omaha for a year while her father attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha before going to Lincoln for law school. She spoke very highly of her short time here during her childhood and gladly accepted Payne’s offer to make a movie together in Omaha sometime.

Her presence was warm and humble as she and Payne began to dive into her impressive career in film. Moore talked about how she was an avid reader when she was young and she could hear how the characters in her books would speak in her head. That voice would help her later when she started reading scripts to see if she connected with a character or not.

“I have to hear the character,” Moore said. “If I couldn’t hear how they would sound in my head, I couldn’t do the part.”

Payne and Moore went on to describe the process and bond between an actor and the director.

“We are storytelling partners,” Payne said.

Moore agreed adding how when she auditions for roles, she doesn’t ask beforehand what the director was looking for. Instead, she portrays the character how she hears it in her head and hopes that it matches the director’s vision. If it does, that’s when she knows she is right for the part.

As the conversation flowed, Payne asked Moore how she prepares for the sometimes complex roles she plays. In Still Alice, Moore portrayed a woman suffering from dementia.

“I did a lot of research for that role, more than I did for my role in Crazy, Stupid Love,” Moore chuckled. “But I talked with doctors, patients who have dementia and their family members and they were all so honest and open with me. That’s my process; I have to see something and learn all I can about it so I know the truth of it and only then, can I try to evoke that.”

Sprinkled throughout the conversation were clips from Moore’s performances in films such as Safe, Game Change, The Big Lebowski and Still Alice.

Payne ended the evening by thanking Moore and all of the night’s sponsors.

“I think your best work is ahead of you,” Payne said, and the crowd cheered in agreement.

Overall, it was a wonderful evening and a spectacular belated birthday present from my mom to me! It’s nights like that when I remember why I love film so much and it only inspires me to keep pursuing my dream as a movie critic. Thank you, mom!

P.S. Luckily, it was dark in the auditorium because I may, or may not, have cried when Julianne walked out…

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