David Frum

03.05.12

The Secret to Palin's Appeal is All in the Eyes

Space constraints on my Game Change review forced the cutting of much of my interview with Julianne Moore about her role as Sarah Palin.

But the experience of talking to Moore about the part was so interesting that I thought readers might want an online supplement.

I spoke to Moore in the Greenwich Village Le Pain Quotidien. She'd come from yoga class, was still dressed for her workout. But seated on one of the coffeehouse's uncomfortable wooden chairs, she did this magic trick whereby she altered her voice and suddenly ... became Palin.

“I can see Russia from my house!”

The voice is the voice of Tina Fey, all bouncy and silly. But the scene is a noisy coffeehouse in lower Manhattan, and the voice is emerging from the throat of Julianne Moore.

Then the voice changes.

“You can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska.”

It’s no longer Moore-doing-Fey-doing Palin. It’s Palin herself: a perfect piece of mimicry produced as effortlessly as a stage magician pulling a coin from the birthday boy’s ear.

How the did you do that? the interviewer demands.

“Palin did this thing with her eyes where, like she was so excited to say something, she lit up… her eyes just kind of got bigger.”

And once Moore explains that, you realize that’s right – that’s just how it happened. Moore explains her method.

“I’m going to watch absolutely everything that she did, and make it exact, and try to figure out what she, you know, she gets excited, she’s like ‘I can talk about Alaska.’”

So what comes out is:
 
“You can actually SEE Russia (pause) from LAND (pause), HERE (pause) in ALASKA.”