Julianne Moore Wonders If She Would Take on Queer Role in 'Kids Are All Right' Today

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Saturday August 1, 2020

Looking back at a now-iconic role as a lesbian mother, Julianne Moore now indicates she's not sure that it was such a great idea for the same-sex couple in film to have been played by two straight actors.

It's been ten years since the release of Lisa Cholodenko's acclaimed 2010 drama "The Kids Are All Right," in which Moore and Annette Bening played a lesbian couple with two children (played by Mia Wasikowska and Josh Hutcherson) who were both conceived using the sperm of the same donor (played by Mark Ruffalo).

The drama unfolds when the children — now teenagers and curious about their biological father — track down the donor, played by Mark Ruffalo. His entrance into the family's lives impacts the already-strained relationship between the two women.

Moore made the comments when talking with Variety, which ran an article on the film and its impact. Variety credited "The Kids Are All Right" with "help[ing] shift popular opinion about gay marriage."

Notes Variety:

The project has earned lasting cinematic admiration as a portrait of queer people that does not exploit the community's struggles, but elevates their averageness.

Today, of course, there's much more awareness around the fact that there are gay actors who could represent gay characters — and, what's more, many actors no longer feel a need to protect their careers by staying in the closet or even avoiding gay roles.

The article features interviews with the cast, Cholodenko, and others, and Moore's remarks concerning straight actors are in response to a question from Variety about the casting choice being controversial even at that time.

Said Moore:

I look back and go, "Ouch. Wow." I don't know that we would do that today, I don't know that we would be comfortable.

That said, however, Moore went on to offer:

We need to give real representation to people, but I'm grateful for all of the experiences that I've had as an actor because my job is to communicate a universality of experience to the world. The idea that, rather than othering people, we're saying we're all the same. Our humanity is shared.

Coverage of the Variety article by other news outlets prompted a new round of controversy for different reasons. IndieWire posted an article with the headline "Julianne Moore Reconsiders Lesbian Role in 'Kids Are All Right' 10 Years Later." Moore took exception to the headline, and called the publication out in a tweeted response:

Film News reported on Moore's response in an article titled, Julianne Moore: 'I have no regrets about The Kids Are All Right'."

Film News said Moore reiterated on Instagram the latter part of her comments to Variety:

"I have never responded to an article before but I was so upset by how @indiewire and @zsharf misrepresented my @variety interview the I had to respond.

"What I said was that I don't know that today we would have a totally straight cast play gay characters in a film but that I am grateful for the experiences that I have had as an actor because my job is to communicate a universality of experience to the world.

UK newspaper the Daily Mail headlined an account of Moore's comments to Variety with an even more potentially inflammatory summary:

Julianne Moore now regrets playing a lesbian character in The Kids Are All Right: 'I don't know that we would do that today'

Moore's Twitter feed reflected no riposte to that headline at the time this story was submitted.

Controversies aside, the film's impact was felt far beyond the United States. Director Lisa Cholodenko recalled being approached by a Chinese woman years later who told her that though the movie had been banned in China, she had managed to see a bootleg copy.

The film, the women told Cholodenko, "changed everything in my life for me. I could see myself, finally."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.