“What Maisie Knew” takes place in New York City. It’s directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel and based on the book by Henry James. The story is told through the eyes of a neglected little girl named Maisie (Onata Aprile). Two-time Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore plays Maisie’s rockstar mom Susanna. Steve Coogan plays Beale, the busy businessman father. You’ll want to smack his cell phone out of his hand and watch it smash to the floor.
Alexander Skarsgård is a screen stealer as Maisie’s stepdad. With his model looks it’s hard to look away. He plays Susanna’s instant husband, Lincoln. Skarsgård uses few words. His eyes, posture, and body language sensitively reveal the shy and insecure character. The captivating actor is best known as Eric Northman, a 1,000-year-old Viking vampire on HBO’s “True Blood.” Watch, he is sure to appear in many more movies soon. He was born to do this—his father is actor Stellan Skarsgård (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”)
Beautiful and talented golden-haired newcomer Joanna Vanderham plays the role of Maisie’s nanny Margo. A caring and devoted substitute parent but one who runs into emotional problems that leave Maisie confused and ignored.
Examiner Dorri Olds interviewed the stunning auburn-haired academy award nominee Julianne Moore. They met in downtown Manhattan yesterday to discuss the new movie, “What Maisie Knew.”
Dorri Olds: Did you enjoy playing a singer for the first time?
Julianne Moore: Yes, but it was challenging to play a musician. [Smiles] It was a real stretch for me but I loved the story and I liked the idea of playing this person unable to parent. Even though she thought she had the desire to do it, she didn’t have the ability. My favorite line was, “You know who your mother is, right?” It’s painful because Susanna knows that’s all she has to offer the child. She knows she’s not a good parent. She’s a musician and that’s all she wants. That’s how she communicates with the world. She doesn’t have a relationship with her child, her husband, her boyfriend; she only has it with her music. She loves this girl and wants to take care of her but she can’t. What’s so sad is when she realizes that she’s a horrible mother. It’s awful.
Have you ever known anyone like that?
No! She’s bad. [Laughs] But when she says, “I used to be just like you,” she probably means: I had a mother just like you. Susanna thinks she’s not like her mother but then she realizes, ‘Oh my God, I just did the same thing to this child that was done to me.’
Did you model Susanna on any specific edgy singers like Patti Smith?
Patti definitely. I listened to a lot of Patti Smith. It was probably three that I looked at the most, they were Patti Smith, Courtney Love and Allison Mosshart. The Kills gave us the songs and Allison is the coolest girl in the world and nicer than she needed to be about me singing her songs. I love her look.
Did you actually sing in front of a live audience?
Well, about four people deep. [Laughs] We had like nobody there. It’s interesting because we actually shot that video after I had already shot “The English Teacher.” So, I shot “Maisie,” then “English Teacher,” and then had to come back and do the video thing. We probably only had like 10 extras because they couldn’t afford anything so we just moved them around according to the shot and made them look dense.
Were you comfortable on stage?
Oh no. It was terrible. It feels embarrassing and you’re just like, “Oh my God, I’m so embarrassed.” It’s hard to do. It’s certainly not something that comes naturally to me and I just wanted it to look right. Pete, our sound guy, was so encouraging. If I did something, he’d say, “Oh, I like that move.” He was incredibly helpful to me and didn’t make me feel like an idiot.
Click here for Part II
Rated R. 99 minutes. “What Maisie Knew” opened this week. Go see it this weekend at the Angelika Film Center at 18 West Houston Street.