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Women in Horror ’13: Julianne Moore’s “6 SOULS” Searching

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In a career that has encompassed nearly every conceivable type of part, Oscar-nominated actress has made regular stops in the horror genre, from her early role in TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE: THE MOVIE to the upcoming remake of CARRIE. This week, she’ll be seen as the star of 6 SOULS, which hits VOD Friday, March 1 and select theaters April 5 from Radius-TWC, and which she spoke about in this exclusive Fango interview.

Originally titled SHELTER and filmed several years ago, 6 SOULS marked the English-language debut of Swedish directing team Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein (who went on to helm UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING), working from a script by IDENTITY’s Michael Cooney. Moore plays Cara Harding, a psychiatrist whose religious convictions have been shaken by the murder of her husband, and who staunchly clings to provable scientific facts in her profession—debunking, in her first scene, the idea that multiple personalities could actually dwell within a person. A new patient (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) appears to offer evidence of the latter, but then tests her faith in the spiritual when his particular disorder proves to have a dangerous supernatural source.

FANGORIA: In 6 SOULS, Cara Harding describes herself as “a doctor of science and a woman of God.” Did either facet of the character especially attract you to the role?

JULIANNE MOORE: No, it was really just that—the fact that she is living this kind of dichotomous existence. I believe a lot of us are that way regarding one thing or another. Cara has these two great extremes where she’s attracted by knowledge, information and fact, but she also, because she does believe in God and seeks solace in Him, is attracted to a certain amount of mystery. So the fact that she’s walking around with these two beliefs, and allows them to co-exist, made her really compelling.

FANG: Did you do any research into the subject of multiple personalities?

MOORE: Well, the movie is really about possession, so it isn’t all about multiple personalities. I certainly have read about it, particularly as a kid—everybody read SYBIL and stuff like that. There’s lots of discussion about whether or not multiple personalities actually exist; there are factions who believe they do, and those who think they don’t.

FANG: One of the interesting things about 6 SOULS is that it starts off as a psychological thriller, and then gradually moves into the supernatural side.

MOORE: Which I love! The directors, Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein, were very interesting, because they were so thorough in the way they built the story. They wanted to very specifically set up these people and what their dilemmas are, so that by the time the supernatural stuff shows up, you’re heavily invested in the dramatic narrative.

FANG: Can you talk about the experience of working with two directors? Was there a division of labor between them?

MOORE: Yes, absolutely! A very unusual division of labor, because I’ve worked with director pairs before. What they do is—and this is the first time I’ve had this experience—they alternate days. They’re both available to you during preproduction, but when you start shooting, you have day number one, which is Måns day, and then day number two, which is Björn’s day. On Måns’ day, he directs you and when you have a question you speak to him, but if Björn’s around, you don’t speak to him because he’s preparing for the next day. You don’t speak to Björn until it’s Björn’s day. It seemed odd at first, but ended up not being difficult at all, because that’s what they’re comfortable with. Their personalities do affect the work, as does everyone’s, so one might be a little more mellow and the other may want more action, but it all kind of evens out and they have the same taste level, so it wasn’t problematic at all. I enjoyed it, and I loved them. I would work with them again in a heartbeat.

FANG: From watching 6 SOULS, it’s clear that they’re visually oriented filmmakers, but also pay attention to the acting and characterizations. You don’t always find that combination.

MOORE: No, you don’t, and not in genre films especially. They so impressed me. We had a meeting, and they took out this huge folder with storyboards in it, and you could see they were incredibly specific in what they wanted to communicate.

FANG: There’s a duality to the film’s settings as well; it starts off in urban Pittsburgh, and then the story takes us into the woods with the hill people. What were those two different experiences like?

MOORE: Well, what I like is the idea that you have what you know, like where she lives in the city, and you have what you don’t know, when she drives to this little town in the middle of nowhere, where people have different rules and a different way of life. Suddenly, you don’t have control anymore. Things are not the way you know them, so you have to ask how it goes, who you talk to, where you go, and that’s scary. We all fear the loss of control, and that’s very present in this movie: The fact that this woman is a scientist, who has this control and knowledge, and yet there’s a great unknown out there where anything goes.

FANG: The film is also very concerned with family relations. There’s Cara’s relationship with her father (played by Jeffrey DeMunn) and her young daughter (Brooklynn Proulx), the mother (Frances Conroy) of one of the dead characters has a significant role, and so on.

MOORE: Yes, and that helps you become very invested in these people. It’s not like you walk into a town and there are all these strangers, you know? You walk in and see, “Oh, this is the way this woman talks to her father, and what the nature of that relationship is, and with her brother [Nate Corddry] and her little girl,” and just how intense all those relationships are. It ups the ante in the film.

FANG: Can you talk about working with DeMunn as your father?

MOORE: I love him. I love him! He’s such a pleasure to be with and talk to. He’s a wonderful actor, so nuanced and really special. It was great, a pleasure to be with him every day. Jeff has this tremendous facility, and an ease as an actor, so he could roll with anything.

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FANG: How about Brooklynn Proulx, playing your daughter?

MOORE: Man, I loved her. She’s a real actress, she really is. She was such a pleasure to be with, so alert and present and responsive. It was like having a real actress to play off of, which I find unusual in children. It’s not something we expect children to be able to do. It’s very difficult, but Brooklynn as a knack for it. I’m very curious to see her as she ages, because she’s gotten older now.

FANG: Did she have any issues doing the scarier scenes—and did you, for that matter?

MOORE: I think it’s the responsibility of the adults [on a film] to make sure the children don’t get scared, so no, she never was. I would be horrified if I was working with a child and they became frightened, because that would be the worst thing in the world to do to somebody. And I didn’t get scared either—we knew what we were doing [laughs]. We were trying to make you scared! That’s what’s important; if we’re not able to scare our audience, then we’re not doing our jobs.

FANG: We’re going to be seeing you in two maternal roles in horror films this year, with CARRIE obviously being the second. Can you talk about how those two experiences contrasted with each other?

MOORE: Well, they were years apart, so I don’t really have any correlation. But one thing I can talk about is how through horror, we can express what we’re innately afraid of. In 6 SOULS, it’s about loss of control, and how you can make all the right choices and believe in the right things and walk the walk or whatever, but there’s this world out there where you have no control, where somebody can get you. The devil can bring you down, or somebody could get your family, and I think we all fear that; it’s like, “OK, no matter what we do, there’s always going to be that mystery out there.” We’re not always going to be able to fix everything.

Then with Stephen King and CARRIE, he was writing, pretty brilliantly, about the fear of isolation and bullying. He based it on these two girls he knew in Maine, one who was isolated by her family’s poverty and the other by her mother’s extreme religious beliefs, and he wanted to tell what had happened to them and how they were treated at school, and how traumatic and damaging that was. He explored that to great effect in CARRIE, and I think that’s something everyone feels—what if you don’t have a community, what if you don’t belong? It’s pretty sad and tragic.

FANG: Is there anything about the horror genre in general that appeals to you?

MOORE: I liked to be scared. I always have [laughs]. I don’t think violence is scary. I don’t like slashers and the “somebody’s gonna get you” kind of stuff. That doesn’t interest me. But the great unknown and the idea of loss of control and the supernatural—I’ve always found that fascinating and scary.

Originally posted 2013-02-27

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About the author
Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold has been a member of the FANGORIA team for the past three decades. After starting as a writer for the magazine in 1988, he came aboard as associate editor in 1990 and two years later moved up to managing editor, the position he holds to this day while continuing to contribute numerous articles and reviews.
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