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Hall of Fame: Gay Directors and Their Female Muses

Todd Haynes is one of our favorite filmmakers, and his first feature, Poison, just celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Although she isn’t in the film, as we read the Village Voice piece on it and reflected on Haynes’ career, we found our mind wandering to the wonderful work he’s done with Julianne Moore. And that got us thinking about how many gay male directors who we love have (or had) close relationships with an actress who starred in their films. After the jump, we look at eight such creative partnerships, from Haynes and Moore to Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick.

Todd Haynes and Julianne Moore
Moore had only done a few major roles in big films by the time she starred in [Safe], Haynes’ second feature. The film’s symbolic story line and cold aesthetic showcased Moore as a serious actress playing a fascinating, and largely unsympathetic, character. Her subtle, nuanced portrayal of a suburban housewife who becomes mysteriously ill laid the groundwork for her later career and also won her a few award nominations, too. [Safe] has been read as both pro- and anti-feminist, and also as an allegory for the AIDS crisis. In 2002, Haynes cast Moore again as a housewife, this time in his lush, ’50s-set Douglas Sirk homage, Far From Heaven — earning her an Oscar nomination and a slew of other awards. She also shows up, briefly, in Haynes’ 2007 Bob Dylan dissection, I’m Not There.

In a 2003 interview, Moore told The Guardian, “[T]he great thing about working with Todd in both films is that his vision is so strong, so sure and so apparent to me that I become very relaxed on his sets. And I feel like all I have to do is kind of bring myself into the movie and he’ll take care of the rest. So he gives me the ballast to carry the story because he’s thought about everything else; he’s considered every element of the film — the dialogue, the look, the feel, the rhythm, everything is there for me.”