Academy Award-winning actress Julianne Moore, reflecting on her role as Jules in the 2010 film "The Kids Are All Right," said she doesn't know if she would play a lesbian character today, preferring to see an LGBTQ actor cast instead.
"I’ve thought about that a lot. Here we were, in this movie about a queer family, and all of the principal actors were straight," Moore told Variety. "I look back and go, 'Ouch. Wow.' I don’t know that we would do that today. I don’t know that we would be comfortable."
Moore added that she believes the film industry should "give representation to real people," but that she was "grateful" for the role as it rendered her with the opportunity to "communicate a universality of experience to the world."
Directed and co-written by Lisa Cholodenko, an out lesbian, "The Kids Are All Right" follows Nic (Annette Bening) and Jules (Moore), a married same-sex couple raising two children. After their children set out to meet their biological father, Paul (Mark Ruffalo), he becomes a fixture in the family. But tension ensues when Jules and Mark have an affair.
Cholodenko, who wrote the script with Stuart Blumberg, said she was partially inspired to write the movie after she and her partner, Wendy Melvoin, had a son via a sperm donor.
Though "The Kids Are All Right" was one of the first mainstream movies to depict a same-sex couple raising teenage children, the film was criticized for depicting a lesbian woman having an affair with a straight man and for casting straight actors in LGBTQ roles. At the film's release, GLAAD released a Resource Guide to educate viewers on some of the issues raised in "The Kids Are All Right," including lesbian parenting and donor insemination.
"Within our community, opinions on media representations will not always be congruous, nor should they, but this film and films like it spark important dialogue in our community and in America in general," GLAAD wrote in a statement shortly after the film's release. "GLAAD is bringing attention to these divergent opinions to foster dialogue. The Kids Are All Right is a fictional representation of one family and there are thousands of other stories to tell."
Cholodenko responded to the criticism in an interview with Salon at the time, stating that she believes sexuality is fluid and those who "see sexuality identity as bound forever" hold a "dated" view.
"I think sexuality at times can be separate from [sexual orientation], and you can have sexual response to opposite genders or same genders ... There are people who see sexual identity as bound forever, and that there's no continuum at all," she told Salon. "I find that thinking, and the critique that comes from that, really dated. So that bothers me. I feel like the lack of open-mindedness to that idea is really square and dated. So that's where I'm coming from."
Despite the criticism, "The Kids Are All Right" fared well at the box office, garnering $34 million worldwide. Bening won the Golden Globe for best actress in a musical or comedy and the film won the award in the best motion picture, musical or comedy category. "The Kids Are All Right" also received four Academy Award nominations in 2010. Moore was nominated for a Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA award for her performance in the movie.
Regarding the criticism over the lack of LGBTQ actors in the movie, Cholodenko said she could "feel" Moore and Bening's "gayness" when finalizing the casting.
"I tend to err on the side of, 'It’s make believe,' and it’s of the discretion of the director who’s the most compelling for that job," she told Variety in a recent interview with Moore. "While I want to promote gay people representing gay people, trans people, all the rest, queer people — it’s also a commercial prospect."
"When I cast Julianne and Annette, I really felt like, on the continuum of gayness, I could feel their gayness," Cholodenko added, noting that Jodie Foster, who came out as gay at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards, was offered the role of Nic. "I didn’t feel like I was putting somebody in an outfit and asking them to parade as something that was false."
Moore revealed in the interview that she was given that option to play either Nic or Jules, but that she ultimately chose Jules because "it was something I had never played before."
In addition to her role in "The Kids Are All Right," Moore also played a lesbian in "Freeheld," opposite out actress Ellen Page. The 2015 film is based on the true story of a lesbian police officer in New Jersey who, after discovering she had terminal cancer, fought to have her pension benefits transfered to her same-sex partner.