Arts Express: Non-Stop, A Conversation With Julianne Moore

Julianne Moore may be currently starring in the scary airplane thriller, Jaume Collet-Serra’s Non-Stop. But to hear her tell it, that pretend ride was in some ways better than the real thing. Like plenty of magazines on board during the long shoot, and make believe attendants serving you lots of Daiquiris. What was not so great, is a story Julianne told during this conversation, recalling her first plane ride as a child. On the other hand oddly enough, the only butt she would have been into kicking if she were the designated action hero in the movie and not Liam Neeson, would have been her own. Here’s Julianne, worrying more than anything else at the moment, about her hair.

Like your new hair style.

JULIANNE MOORE: Oh, thank you. But I didn’t want to distract you with my hair! Do you want me to sit any special way?

Any way is fine.

JM: This is such a big room! Yeah, it’s crazy…

So how would you handle your character’s scary situation in real life?

JM: I’d run screaming from the room!

Would you kick anyone’s butt, or anything like that?

JM: Yeah. Just mine in the movie! Yep.

Julianne, I was totally convinced you were the bad guy. But here’s my question. Are you okay as a celebrity going into a public situation like airports and planes?

JM: People are really nice, honestly. And sometimes I really do talk to people. And have a nice conversation. I do talk to women with children. A lot.

Because you feel for them, man. Somebody sits down next to me with a baby, I’m gonna talk to her. Because I’ve been there! But yeah, it’s nice.

Do you remember your first flight ever, and was it scary?

JM: My first flight…I don’t remember this, but my mother said that we flew back from Panama. My father was stationed at the Canal Zone all those years ago.

So we flew back. And we were pretty little, and I – I don’t remember who was who. But one of us was looking out of the window saying, oh look at the beautiful clouds.

And the other one – because we were a year apart – said, you’re making me sick! So I don’t know if I said that, or she said that. But it’s not my memory, it’s my mother’s. Of us on that flight. Yeah.

How did you feel going into the airport, when shooting inside the plane ended?

JM: It was like chickens being let out of a pen! Oh, a regular place! Or, go over here, now go over there. But it was nice.

What about on the plane?

JM: It was pretty comfortable. Reading magazines! And it was a great group of people, really terrific. It was wonderful, the cast in the movie.

And to have the cast serve you Daiquiris, as your flight attendants! So it was fun to be with everybody, it was nice with everyone on the set. It was pretty pleasant. Yeah.

So do you think a movie like this will tend to make us more vigilant or more paranoid, in the post 9/11 world?

JM: Hmm…! I think that obviously, when you’re constructing entertainment, all kinds of thrillers and horror movies – or anything that’s supposed to give us kind of a scare – they’re all based on what our natural worries are.

You sort of take them and exaggerate them. You know, are you scared of ghosts. Or is it the devil. I’m very scared of the devil!

Um, but in this case, you take something that’s sort of routine. You know, where obviously when you enter an airplane, you’re giving up some control. All of us.

And you play on that fear. You sort of take that. And in a way, so much about this script, is that you take rather ordinary circumstances, and turn it into a kind of Hitchcockian event.

You know, it’s very reminiscent of those older movies, And of the disaster movies I loved as a kid, Like The Poseidon Adventure. And The Towering Inferno. So it becomes kind of a classic entertainment.

Your character was pretty mysterious, how did you feel about that?

JM: I liked the fact that there was a mystery about all of the characters. But I feel that in life, that’s the way it is.

You know, in cinema people are always walking into something and saying, this is who I am. This is what I want, and this is how I’m gonna get it!

And we don’t. In life. Particularly not in a public situation. Nobody, people don’t know your name. They might know your first name, and not your last name. Or vice versa.

Um, they don’t know what you do, and you’re not gonna offer it up. So you start there and you realize, well this is probably a much more normal presentation in a film.

You know, than what you would normally have. And you kinda go, okay. Well, who is this. And you know that there’s a big life, behind what everyone presents.

And that I think, is super interesting. The fact that you can scratch someone, and find out all of these things you’d never know.

Do you feel peeved about all the airport security measures?

JM: I don’t. I feel that people are meticulous. And very careful and thoughtful about what’s happening.

And what I see around me, is people agreeing to this. Because it’s a group effort. So no, I don’t feel that way.

How do you feel, looking back on your career?

JM: I like to mix it up, you know? I like to do um, if I’ve done something really serious, I like to do a comedy.

And if I’ve done a comedy and then I find a thriller that’s interesting to me, I like to do that too. I like genres, I like movies.

I like to accrue experience, I think. So that’s really been it. Um, and I don’t really plan things. You can’t!

In our business, you really can’t. We have less control than we’d like! But yeah. So I do feel fortunate, just to work. Really. Uh huh…

Do you think there are stereotypes in this movie?

JM: I think it upends our expectations. And even with a character like mine, who seems so, who won’t give anything up. And you think well, come on.

And it turns out that it’s just completely personal. Except me, when I really got on Liam’s nerves!

So you can’t preconceive these things, you really can’t. You know, we really don’t know who somebody is.

You don’t know what their inner life is, or what their interests are. Or how to determine how they’re gonna behave. And I think that is done deliberately.

But there was a sneaking suspicion that the real villain was the little girl!

JM: Uh, yeah, that’s right. Uh huh! Hah, that would be great!

Why do you think audiences respond to Liam so well?

JM: I think audiences respond to Liam that way, because he does present a very humane, sensitive, complicated person. A real person.

Who then becomes the hero, you know? So it’s not like a superhero coming in. You know, the superman’s gonna be able to do it. He’s not even a real person.

But you know, to have Liam represent that, I think it’s, he’s very, he brings it a real sense of authenticity. And to all of these characters.

He should thank you for that.

JM: Yeah. Any time, Billy!

And you’re one of our greatest actors, in this movie too.

JM: [Blushing] Aw, c’mon! Hah, thanks. Well, Liam had a lot to do with it. Honestly.

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.