‘Game Change’: Julianne Moore Studied ‘Sarah Palin’s Alaska’ for HBO Film

by | January 13, 2012 at 4:28 PM | Game Change, HBO

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in HBO's film Game Change (HBO/Phillip V. Caruso)

Without direct access to Sarah Palin, Julianne Moore sought out other inspiration to play the former Governor of Alaska: Palin’s TLC reality series.

“I watched her reality show ['Sarah Palin's Alaska'] to familiarize myself with her family dynamic,” admits Moore, who portrays Palin in HBO’s upcoming film, “Game Change.” “It was frankly adorable,” Moore says of her impression of the show. “She’s clearing a very caring parent.”

But it’s not just Palin’s family life Moore was interested in. Her first priority was nailing down Palin’s “incredibly idiosyncratic way of speaking,” which she impressively accomplished (as evidenced below) with the assistance of a vocal coach.

Next came the research. Because Palin declined to participate in the film, Moore says she spent hours poring over additional materials. “I read her book ['Going Rogue'], I read ‘Game Change,’ and I even read her assistant’s book ['Blind Allegiance to Sarah Palin: A Memoir of Our Tumultuous Years,' by Frank Bailey],” Moore admits.

Based on the bestselling book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, “Game Change” documents the 2008 Presidential campaign. Written by Danny Strong, the film – which narrows in on John McCain and Palin as its focus – is directed by Jay Roach and stars Moore,  Ed Harris as McCain, and Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt, McCain’s senior campaign strategist.

Moore recalls watching the events of the campaign unfold in 2008. “I think the entire country had a collective gasp,” she says. “People felt there suddenly was this game change in the election. There was this moment of real, What’s gonna happen now?”

What did happen, as the book and film reveal, is a series of personal breakdowns as Palin ascended from small town political figure to world stage player.  Moore says it’s that “pressure-cooker” environment that she tried to capture.  “There was a tremendous amount of pressure [on Palin],” Moore says. “So what does that do to someone psychologically?” For Moore, that experience wasn’t easy.  “It’s a daunting task to play somebody who is not only a living figure but a hugely well known one,” she says.

Ultimately, Moore hopes the film conveys the “extraordinary” situation Palin found herself in. “Suddenly, here was this working class mother who had just popped out and seemed to be able to command the world,” she says. “But she didn’t necessarily have the experience necessary to lead our country. And that’s what we’re trying to dramatize.”

“Game Change” airs March 10 on HBO.

Watch Moore as Palin in the Trailer for “Game Change”: