‘That Almost Killed Me’: Julianne Moore Recalls Portraying Sarah Palin In ‘Game Change’

Moore’s portrayal in the 2012 film frustrated Palin and dazzled Hollywood — who awarded the actor an Emmy, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award.

Julianna Moore does not miss preparing for her role as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

The Oscar-winning actor famously portrayed Palin in HBO’s “Game Change” (2012) and had rather daunting shoes to fill. Moore was not only following Tina Fey’s popular imitation on “Saturday Night Live” in 2008 but was determined to deliver more than a minutes-long caricature.

The actor most recently starred in “May December” as a not-so-subtle version of Mary Kay Letourneau — and even employed her lisp. When asked Monday on “Watch What Happens Live” if this was more difficult to pull off than portraying Palin, Moore didn’t hold back.

“The thing that was really, really hard was Sarah Palin’s voice,” she answered on the talk show. “That almost killed me. I listened to nothing else for months on end. I took all the music off my phone and just listened to her voice constantly.”

The film itself chronicles the quest for a “game change” candidate who can serve as Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) vice presidential running mate in 2008 to win over conservative and independent voters. He notably lost that election to former President Barack Obama.

While Palin revealed herself as a gaffe machine in the process and later became a Fox News pundit and reality TV star, Moore took the role seriously — and won a Critics’ Choice Television Award, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild Award and Primetime Emmy.

Moore, seen here accepting a SAG Award for the role, also won an Emmy and Golden Globe.
Moore, seen here accepting a SAG Award for the role, also won an Emmy and Golden Globe.
Mark Davis via Getty Images

She previously divulged how much effort went into her performance on the “Today” show.

“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,” Moore told host Willie Geist in 2021. “And I literally did nothing. I didn’t go out. I just spent all of my time kind of studying it.”

Palin reacted to the portrayal at the time, telling ABC News: “Being in the good graces of Hollywood’s ‘Team Obama’ isn’t top of my list.” Palin recently lost her comeback bid for Alaska’s sole House seat — and warned her waning supporters of an impending “civil war.”

“Game Change” is available on HBO Max; “May December” is now available on Netflix.


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