Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich on ‘After the Wedding’ and Remaking a Classic
Julianne Moore has teamed up with her husband Bart Freundlich for several film projects with their most recent endeavor being After the Wedding, a modern-day retelling of Susanne Bier’s 2006 film with the same name. I saw the film back at Sundance, which has been changed since. While I have not had the opportunity to sit down and watch the newest cut, I did have the chance to chat with Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich about the film.
Scott Menzel: First and foremost, as always, congratulations on this film.
Bart Freundlich & Julianne Moore: Thank you.
Scott Menzel: I’ve been going to Sundance for many years. I was thrown into the overflow theater this year for this film, but what was it like for you to premiere it at Sundance?
Bart Freundlich: Oh, I mean, my first film, our first film together was The Myth of Fingerprints which premiered there in 97′. So it was pretty awesome. I mean, it was so great. Audiences are so ravenous for movies, and it’s a nice moment to be able to look back and see how much time has passed, and what we’ve accomplished. But mainly, it’s just such a positive environment of people who want to appreciate movies, and we kind of got a celebration for us, because you work so hard on things like this, it’s nice to have a big party, and that’s what Sundance felt like.
Scott Menzel: Awesome. So you guys have worked together, obviously in real life, but also with various films. This is your fourth film together, right? As a husband and wife duo, what does it feel like working on a movie together?
Julianne Moore: Yes, it is. Well, it’s great. I mean, it’s great to have something that you both really care about, you’re collaborating on, where you can rely on one another, and share, I think as work partners and life partners, and it’s a lot at the same time, because it’s like you’re suddenly, your whole world is involved in it, you know? I mean, your kids get roped into it, your free time is pulled in to it, you drive to work together, and you drive home together. But it’s wonderful. I think it’s very unusual that you get to have that kind of experience, where so much of your professional life is seeping into your personal life, and vice versa.
Bart Freundlich: Yeah, and I think as artists, it’s nice because so much of our inner lives, and my inner life, at least, is taken up for this year or two years, dealing with the story and the complexities of it, and to get to share that, and talk about it and collaborate, I think it’s a really nice common ground to have. And then we have times where we’re working on separate things where we’re apart, so we have kind of the best of both worlds, I feel like. And mainly getting to have her talent lent to this project, and what she brings, and every director kind of knows what she brings, but this authenticity, this kind of fierce authenticity, is so exciting to get to see on set. That’s kind of first and foremost, and the rest of it’s just like icing.
Scott Menzel: Yeah. I think another thing that I really enjoyed about this movie, was seeing you, once again reuniting with Billy Crudup. I think he is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. There was a movie that came out actually at Sundance, that I absolutely adored, called Rudderless.
Bart Freundlich: Oh, I saw it.
Julianne Moore: Yeah, he’s a wonderful actor.
Scott Menzel: So for you Bart, what’s a certain quality about him that makes you want to keep bringing him back into your projects?
Bart Freundlich: I think it’s the same besides, we’re really best friends, so that’s awesome. It’s the way he likes to collaborate. Every actor works differently, in my opinion, in my experience, rather. And Billy loves to talk things out and figure it out, and so we get to have this great collaboration, but he’s just totally committed to everything being truthful, and always striving for that. So it’s just great because he’ll say things to me like, “Wait, what were they talking about for an hour before they got to this scene?” And he’ll really challenge me on that stuff but in a kind way. So he’s just a great collaborator, and he’s very deep and very committed to the truth.
Scott Menzel: So this film is obviously a remake. What is the fear of being part of a project that is a remake?
Julianne Moore: Well, as a friend of mine, a director once said, you’re never remaking a movie, you’re always making a movie. And I think that that’s an important thing to bear in mind. If you are going to make this movie and its material that has been made before, and Bart’s been very eloquent about this, then what are you saying? What is your iteration going to be? How are you going to not do what has already been done? You’re using this material to tell a similar, but a somewhat different story.
So I think when they hit upon the gender flip, that, I found really, really compelling, because it’s like, how do you tell this story that we haven’t seen told very often, about these two very powerful women, both of whom believed they’ve made the right moral choice, and their encounter, and what happens. And then also, I think the fact, because they are female, there’ve been very deliberate choices that each of the characters have made, that weren’t made in Susanne Bier’s movie, where it was a more unconscious thing that had happened, less considered. So the fact that these people are maybe even more morally complicated than in the previous one, it raised the stakes to a degree that I found really compelling.
Bart Freundlich: Yeah. And for me, the only fear I had about it, was that I would diminish her work in some way. But, and I guess a fear that I knew how great a story it was, and what I love about it is this strong narrative, it’s all these reveals, it’s a big story, really. And there are these three-dimensional characters, so you get to explore the characters in this big story, have the payoff of the narrative, and the payoff of the inner life of the characters. But I knew for me, I needed to find some like personal traction with it, and before we switched the genders, I kept thinking, “Well, oh, this is great. But wait, she did that already with this.” And it wasn’t until we switched the genders that it really opened that up to me, because there were specific plot points that really had to change and backstories that needed to change. So I did a lot of work on those backstories, just so I would understand where these people came from, and so I could envision them as a whole 360 person.
Scott Menzel: Well, thank you very much.
Bart Freundlich & Julianne Moore: Thank you so much.
After the Wedding is now playing in select theaters.