Julianne Moore, master interpreter of uncanny domestic life, is smiling at me from a facsimile of her home. “This is a rental, but still all the same stuff,” the actor says over Zoom, gesturing to the Thomas Struth photograph behind her, depicting a primeval, vine-strewn forest. It used to hang along a hallway in her family’s West Village house, where the mix of mid-century design pieces and sentimental objects garnered the attention of shelter magazines. Moore is in tune with decoration, as much for the intellectual exercise of it as for the emotionally resonant results (a candid nude by Nan Goldin set the mood in a bathroom)—so it’s a wonder why she and her filmmaker husband, Bart Freundlich, decamped from such jewel-box real estate.
“You know what? Our kids grew up,” Moore says, her unassuming warmth balancing out a familiar incandescence. Their older one, Caleb, graduated college during the pandemic and made his way to a nearby apartment for graduate school. Liv, four years younger, set off for Northwestern. The couple have a retreat on Long Island that satisfies their itch for nature. And so the West Village place suddenly felt like “this great big house. He’d be on the top floor, I’d be on the bottom,” says Moore, joking that she could no longer locate her husband. They now have their eyes on downtown’s Noho neighborhood. “I was ready to look out, to see buildings, to see New York.”
Decoration without pretense—that also describes Moore’s latest project, her first campaign as Hourglass’s brand ambassador. The Oscar winner, known for her freckled porcelain skin and smoky-eye predilection, is no stranger to beauty conversations. But this time, fronting the new Ambient Soft Glow foundation, she appears alongside Liv, with an oblique script that describes moonglow’s effect on the animal kingdom. (The buildable formula includes light-diffusing pigments, to replicate that proverbial ‘lit-from-within’ radiance.) “When my daughter said that line, ‘This is me,’ I wanted to burst into tears because it was so eloquent. Here is this 20-year-old woman talking about where she is, and then I get to say the same line,” Moore says. “It just felt very frank and emotional.” She points to the company’s like-minded values, from formulas that are vegan and cruelty-free to a sense of inclusivity across age and ethnicity—all set in motion by founder and CEO Carisa Janes.
It seems fitting that an actor who established herself as a sensitive, unnerving talent in independent cinema has found a similar home in niche beauty, where there’s more space for nuance over conventional narratives. Later this summer, Moore returns to set, filming back-to-back projects. With Scottish director Lynne Ramsay, she boards a cruise ship for Stone Mattress, based on a story by Margaret Atwood; she also reunites with longtime collaborator Todd Haynes for May December. Here, Moore talks about the ongoing resonance of their 1995 first film, Safe, her approach to parenting in the limelight, and the love of a transformative wig.
Vanity Fair: What appealed to you about this Hourglass campaign, and in what way was it a different proposition?
Julianne Moore: First of all, I was very flattered. When I met Carisa and we were doing the work on the brand, it felt so authentic and so small and so very carefully crafted, in a way. I was thrilled that they involved Liv too, and that the campaign was so much about who you are as a human being and what your connections are to others. And also knowing where you are—that every stage in your life is a valuable one. These notions that you hear a lot about in the beauty industry, like, ”I’m going to fight aging,” or “anti-aging,” or “I don’t age”—that’s a fallacy. It’s a fact of life. It’s not possible to age one way or another; we simply age. That’s just part of the human condition.
Foundation is a category that I sense you might have opinions about—in part because makeup artists sometimes wind up covering up freckles like a flaw. What is your relationship to foundation, and what do you look for in a formula?