Julianne Moore

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Remember Harrison Ford's 1993 blockbuster The Fugitive? You probably do but can you recall Julianne Moore's brief appearance as one of Doctor Kimble's colleagues? Not many people noticed her in the part, but one of those who did was Stephen Spielberg. And he was so impressed he immediately resolved to cast her in his Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World.

The role marked a pivotal point in Julianne's career. While her abilities as a character actress were widely recognised, she had not yet won enough exposure to make her an A-list star. Needless to say, the Spielberg treatment changed all that. Almost overnight her fees trebled and Hollywood bid welcome to a new leading lady.

Born in North Carolina in 1960, Julianne is the daughter of a military judge and a psychiatric social worker. Due to her father's role in the Army, the family was constantly on the move and relocated 23 times before Julianne reached adulthood. After finishing high school, she went on to study drama at Boston University before moving to New York to work in theatre. It was perhaps this facility to adjust to new environments that gave Julianne her ability to assume such a wide range of roles.

She insists, however, that fitting in was never her strong point: "In grade school I was a complete geek," she says. "You know, there's always the kid who's too short, the one who wears glasses, the kid who's not athletic. Well, I was all three."

Her "nerd" assertions may be a little hard to believe, but one thing not in doubt is her ability to take on any role presented to her. Indeed, her versatility as an actress has set her apart from Hollywood's other female stars. She holds an almost unique status in being one of Hollywood's most marketable faces as well as one of its most respected character actresses. She went from dinosaur hunter (The Lost World) to porn queen (Boogie Nights) to troubled trophy wife (Magnolia) with barely an alteration to her natural auburn beauty her ability to deliver a powerful performance seems to obviate any need for help from the make-up and costume departments. More recently came another outstanding portrayal opposite Nicole Kidman in The Hours.

In 2000, the four-time Oscar nominee beat off competition from Gwyneth Paltrow, Helen Hunt and Gillian Anderson for the role of Clarice Starling in Hannibal. While she was nervous her performance wouldn't live up to Jodie Foster's original treatment of the character, director Ridley Scott never doubted her. Indeed he is known to have considered Julianne the only real contender for the part.

Andre Gregory, who directed her in a stage production of Uncle Vanya agreed with Ridley's assessment. "She evokes the sensuality and urgency of a young Joan Crawford," he said. "But with more depth, more contradictions."

Born Julie Anne Smith, she changed her name when she registered with the Actor's Guild as her own name (and every conceivable variation of it) was already taken. A staunch pro-choice activist, she is also a devoted parent and eagerly enthuses about motherhood. "It is the most wonderful experience of your life. It deepens absolutely everything. You have a greater understanding of things, so in a way it is a gift. For me it has made everything much better. I'm so happy, I am extremely fortunate."

These days the actress lives in a plush Greenwich Village loft with her longtime partner, director Bart Freundlich, whom she met after her eight-year marriage to actor John Gould Rubin came to an end. The couple had two children together, son Cal and daughter Liv, before tying the knot in August, 2003.
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