Julianne Moore on the De-Gaying of ‘A Single Man’

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Tom Ford’s A Single Man was regrettably shut out of this year’s Oscars, with the exception of a well-deserved nomination for its lead Colin Firth. About a month back, Matthew Goode, the actor who plays Firth’s lover in the film, was cautiously optimistic about its awards future when he spoke to New York at the premiere of Leap Year. “Nominations wise, I think Colin will get one, and I think that Julianne will for Best Supporting,” said Goode. “And I suspect that the screenplay will for Best Adapted. And the cinematography is amazing, and the editing… I think [the film] stands alone, but it doesn’t seem to be getting a push from the Weinsteins too much.” The push the film did get, however, was also the subject of scrutiny. The poster for the film shows Firth’s character and his female best friend Charley (played by Julianne Moore), rather than Goode, whose death in the plot drives the film, which had people wondering, was it necessary to gloss over A Single Man‘s gay storyline in order for the film to make money? And now, in the wake of the Oscar nominations — or lack thereof — is it possible that the de-gaying of the film’s image actually hindered its success? Could the film have been the next Brokeback Mountain? Would that have even been a good thing? We talked to Julianne Moore about this debate a few weeks ago, and she had some impassioned things to say on the matter.

BlackBook: People have been upset over the marketing of A Single Man, specifically that you’re on the poster rather than Matthew Goode, who plays Colin Firth’s love interest. Julianne Moore: There was an initial poster that had a shot of Colin and me lying down together, and Tom was the one who said, “No, I don’t want that poster.” It made A Single Man look like a romantic comedy, which it’s most certainly not. He’s the one who changed that poster.

It’s sad to think that in order for a film to be successful with a wider audience, one needs to consider such things. I simply don’t think that’s true! Look at Brokeback Mountain. I think people consistently underestimate the movie-going public. I think people are much more open and available than we give them credit for.

But Brokeback Mountain was different. It felt like a gay event movie. It did?

A little, in that it was a sweeping epic. It became, in place of a movie about gay cowboys, the gay cowboy movie. In A Single Man, sexuality is important to be sure, but it’s about a relationship rather than a specifically gay relationship. Absolutely. Tom will say that, too. I was talking to somebody at The Advocate recently and he said, “Tom Ford has been saying that it’s not a gay love story.” And I was like, Yeah, that’s because he’s been saying that it’s a universal love story. The minute you start to reduce something by saying, “It’s gay,” or, “It’s straight,” it becomes niche. You ghettoize it by saying that it only belongs in one place. That’s what’s so remarkable about A Single Man. It’s really about love and loss — period.