Julianne Moore plays a passenger on an endangered flight in "Non-Stop." Credit: Getty Images
What is Julianne Moore doing in “Non-Stop?” A Liam Neeson thriller set aboard a plane on which lurks a mysterious killer, it would seem to be too trashy for the multiple Oscar-nominee and Emmy winner. But she’s the first to point out that she’s not so easily pinned down.
“I like to mix it up,” Moore says. “If I’ve done something really serious, I like to do a comedy. If I’ve done a comedy, I find a thriller that interests me. I like to accrue experience. I don’t plan these things. You can’t in this business. We have less control than we’d like.”
In fact, a quick perusal of Moore’s CV shows such genre fare as the “Jurassic Park” sequel “The Lost World,” the comedy “Evolution,” the Nicolas Cage thriller “Next” and last year’s remake of “Carrie,” in which she played the hyper-religious mother of Carrie Grace-Mortez's sad loner. One even sees “Assassins,” a 1995 Sylvester Stallone-Antonio Banderas action pic from super-producer Joel Silver, whose mitts are also on "Non-Stop."
But what really drew her to it was playing a mysterious character. She plays Jen Summers, a talkative and friendly passenger who sits next to Neeson’s air marshal and proceeds to prove helpful as he locates the baddie — maybe too helpful, perhaps? Actually she’s one of several characters who’s a possible perp, including, some characters believe, Neeson himself.
“I liked that there was a mystery about all the characters,” she explains. “I feel like in life, that’s the way it is. People don’t walk into something saying, ‘This is who I am, this is what I want, this is how I’m going to get it.’ People don’t know you. There’s a big life behind what everyone presents to everyone else. I think that’s interesting, that you can scratch anyone and find out all these things.”
Of course, this is still a modern day Liam Neeson thriller (and only briefly an action film). She’s very loose about the film, giggling even as she discusses how it’s an entertainment that preys on fears of flying and airports. “It takes a rather ordinary circumstance and turns it into a Hitchcockian event. It’s very reminiscent of those older movies, and those disaster movies I loved as a kid, like ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ and ‘The Towering Inferno.’ It becomes a classic entertainment.”
As far as her own experiences in airports and planes go, she says she doesn’t act like an unapproachable movie star. “People are really nice, honestly. Sometimes I do talk to people and have a nice conversation. I talk to women with children a lot, because I feel for them. If someone sits next to me with a baby, I’m going to talk to her, because I’ve been there.”
Neeson himself was just glad she was there at all. “Julianne is one of our great screen actresses,” he says. “We were so lucky to have her in this part. The first draft I read of it, the passenger beside me is quite a bland part. When I heard they were going to ask Julianne, I was like, ‘No way is she going to do this.’”