Let’s play “Which One Doesn’t Belong?"
Here’s your list: Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Sunset Boulevard, Seattle. The first three, no doubt, conjure up images of sun-drenched movie stars and pony-tailed film directors. Seattle seems the obvious correct answer, but is it really such a misfit?
While "sun-drenched" requires a very big stretch of the imagination, Seattle does play host to the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) and a rather amazing group of actors, directors and writers.
One actress even calls Kirkland home.
Julianne Christie (Jules to her friends and family) grew up in nearby Kenmore as one of six daughters. Even from elementary school, she wrote and acted in plays, graduating to jazz hands and musicals when she entered Inglemoor High School on Finn Hill.
“By the time I went to college, I was ready to pursue classical theater,” says Christie, who at 18 left her jazz hands behind in the Northwest to pursue her education at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles.
And it seems to have paid off, landing Christie roles in such films as Encino Man, Bounce and The Nutty Professor, as well as numerous television appearances, from guest starring in Smallville and Star Trek to recurring roles in NYPD Blue and Nash Bridges.
If her name rings a bell, it's entirely appropriate. Her parents named her after the Academy Award-winning British actress Julie Christie, and that is her actual name. She changed it to Julianne when she arrived in Hollywood.
With her pretty face and bouncy blond curls, she is often cast as the girl next door, though Christie’s favorite roles are the villains.
“We all need a safe place to explore our dark, murderous, villainous sides,” she says.
Pretending to be a troubled mother on screen is quite the opposite of Christie’s real life, where she is an adoring mother of 8-year-old Zoe, who attends John Muir Elementary. For Christie, who describes her daughter as precocious and imaginative, Zoe is her main hobby.
“We attend plays, the symphony, run and do yoga together, go to movies, and do lots of reading,” she says. “I brought her here from Los Angeles. I thought that I could be the single mother and have the baby and have the career. But after you have a child, everything changes and your priorities realign.”
JULIANNE CHRISTIE moved back to the Northwest to be near her mom, Diane Christie, who, she is thankful to announce, just beat stage three cancer. Having the community of her family surrounding her and Zoe has been worth the extra hassle of being a Hollywood actress living so far away from the Mothership.
“The talent here is really remarkable,” says Christie who recently starred in Ira Finklestein’s Christmas (November 2011) alongside Elliott Gould.
It is the story of an 11-year-old Jewish boy from L.A. whose hopes for a white Christmas lead him on a crazy journey to Seattle. Reminiscent of Home Alone, the film combines comedy with the message that Christmas can be for everyone.
“It was nice to have an arena for a big film, a big star name, a professional production. They came to Seattle instead of just filming it as a location. Sue Corcoran, the film’s writer and director, is just a beautiful Northwest girl.”
As for dream roles, Christie is enjoying the genre of psychological thrillers, such as the film that just wrapped in the bus tunnels of Seattle called Stop Requested. The Abundant Productions film is about a woman named Jess on a spiritual journey. Christie’s corporate hippie character Miriam acts like a John the Baptist, bringing Jess a message of light.
“The beauty of this short film is that we’re taking (the audience) on a ride,” says Christie, who hopes viewers will internalize its message.
Though the release date for the film couldn’t be confirmed, it will most likely be playing the festival circuit.
CHRISTIE TEACHES adult drama classes for a continuing education program in North Seattle. Along with seven other colleagues, she is also working on a youth drama program to be offered at elementary schools in the Lake Washington School District as early as next fall.
“I don’t know what I would have done without it,” says Christie of the experience of childhood drama programs. “And now that they are being pulled from the schools...if I hadn’t been able to do plays, I would have gone down a different path.”
When acting in a play, Christie yearns for the survival-providing funds of working in a television show; on the flip-side, however, she longs for the honesty of theater while earning a paycheck from a network.
Christie is exploring a meaty character for an upcoming play called The Well, where the sultry manipulative “Depression” tempts various individuals into diving off the edge of despair. Christie’s character, a 1920s Billie Holiday-type jazz singer hooked on smack and alcohol, takes the ultimate plunge. To get inside her character’s head, Christie tends to pull back from interaction with other people, using sense memories and her own experiences to summon the emotions necessary for a believable performance.
Christie offers this advice to aspiring actors: “Get the script out of your hands as soon as possible. Work with it for as long as they give you and then just get rid of it.”
Since Kirkland resident Julianne Christie is quite literally the girl next door, there’s a good chance of running into her, though she enjoys the peacefulness of her near-country home above Woodinville’s Chateau Ste. Michele to busy downtown Kirkland. And while she is just as beautiful as you might think, don’t expect this devoted mother to be rolling down Lake Street like it’s the red carpet.
She plays a convincing regular person, too.