‘That Almost Killed Me’: Julianne Moore Opens Up About Portraying Sarah Palin

By: ScreenGawk Staff | Published: Dec 15, 2023

Julianne Moore is one of the most recognizable actresses in the world; she is both critically and commercially acclaimed for her work in film and has starred in blockbusters such as The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Children of Men, and The Hunger Games series.

But in a recent interview, Moore told the press that of all her roles, her portrayal of Alaska Governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was the one that  “almost killed” her.

Moore Told the World Just How Challenging it Was to Play the Famous Governor

This year, Moore played the role of Mary Kay Letourneau in the film May December, and in an interview on “Watch What Happens Live,” she was asked if it was harder to portray Letourneau or Palin back in 2012.

Poster for HBO’s film The Game Change

Source: HBO.com

The film they are referring to in the interview was called “Game Change,” an HBO special that was released shortly after the 2008 presidential elections about Republican candidates John McCain and Sarah Palin for president and vice president, respectively, in which Moore plays Palin.

Moore’s Response Surprised the World

The interviewer, as well as the world, assumed that getting Letourneau’s lisp just right would have been the biggest challenge, but Moore reported that it was actually Palin’s voice that was the most difficult to emulate.

Woman listening to headphones with a computer on her desk

Source: Freepik

In fact, she said that she “listened to nothing else for months on end. [She] took all the music off [her] phone and just listened to [Palin’s] voice constantly.”

Julianne Moore’s Exact Words

The actress also told the talk show, “The thing that was really, really hard was Sarah Palin’s voice. That almost killed me.”

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in the film The Game Change

Source: YouTube

Moore also told Willie Geist in 2021, “I started listening to her voice and watching every recording I could and reading all the books and watching that TV show that she did. And I literally did nothing. I didn’t go out. I just spent all of my time kind of studying it.”

Moore Didn’t Want to Offer Another Spoof of the Politician

At the time, Sarah Palin was one of the biggest names in politics as well as comedy. In fact, comedian Tina Fey was famous around the world for her less-than-flattering portrayal of the Alaska Gov and vice presidential candidate on Saturday Night Live.

Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live

Source: YouTube

And Moore wanted to be sure that her performance as Palin was more accurate and less cruel.

Moore’s Hard Work Paid Off

Anyone who saw the film can attest that Moore’s dedication to learning exactly who Palin is and how she speaks and portrays herself absolutely paid off.

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in Game Change

Source: The Playlist

It’s clear in the film that Moore knew everything there was to know about Sarah Palin, and she played her so well that, at times, the audience actually forgot that it wasn’t Palin on the screen.


Julianne Moore Won Several Awards for the Role

And it wasn’t just the audience that appreciated Julianne Moore’s acting; she also won several awards for the role.

Julianne Moore holding a SAG Award

Source: Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images

She won the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or Movie, the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television, and several more.


The Film Received Praise for its Accurate Depiction of the 2008 Race

As well as Moore’s accolades, the film received praise from audiences and critics alike for its accurate and engaging portrayal of McCain, Palin, and the 2008 presidential race as a whole.

John McCain and Sarah Palin wave to supporters during a rally in 2008

Source: Alex Wong/Getty Images

And although the movie didn’t become one of HBO’s most-watched films of all time, those who did see it gave it rave reviews.


Palin Was Tired of Public Ridicule

Unfortunately, Moore’s acting, though impressive, didn’t receive any praise from Palin herself as the politician was more or less done watching herself being played on the big screen.

Republican U.S. Vice Presidential Candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin greets her supporters

Source: Max Whittaker/Getty Images

After watching Fey’s arguably offensive performance for months on Saturday Night Live, no one can really blame Palin for giving up on watching anything made about her.


Palin Apparently Didn’t Care About the Hollywood Blockbuster

In fact, after Game Change was released by HBO in 2012, Palin was asked in an interview with ABC News how she felt about the film.

Obama supporter holding a poster with the president’s face and the text “HOPE”

Source: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

And she responded quite abruptly that “Being in the good graces of Hollywood’s ‘Team Obama’ isn’t top of my list.”


Sarah Palin Today

After losing the presidential election in 2008, Palin resigned from her position as the Gov. of Alaska and more or less bowed out of politics.

Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during the vice presidential debate

Source: Don Emmert-Pool/Getty Images

However, in 2022, she re-emerged in the hopes of winning a U.S. House seat for her home state. However, it seems that her once devoted supporters don’t feel as connected to the politician after she resigned, and she simply cannot get the votes.


Moore Will Forever Be Remembered for Her Role as Sarah Palin

Even though Sarah Palin’s political career is all but over, and the next generation will likely forget her, it seems that Julianne Moore’s incredible portrayal will live on in film forever.

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin in Game Change

Source: YouTube

So all those hours of listening to Sarah Palin’s voice and almost being “killed” in preparation for the role were definitely worth it for the respected actress.