On Wonderstruck, Julianne Moore reunites for a fourth film with director Todd Haynes (see also Safe, Far From Heaven and I'm Not There). And for this one she gets to play two characters, a silent movie star in 1927 and a deaf woman in 1977. The film has dual plots that run parallel before merging at the end, following children played by newcomer Millicent Simmonds and Oakes Fegley (Pete's Dragon) who run away to New York City 50 years apart.

Julianne Moore stars in WonderstruckJulianne Moore stars in Wonderstruck

"That's hard to resist, getting to play two parts," says Moore. "And the book is pretty extraordinary. It's about these kids who are trying to find their parents, but what they end up finding is their culture and community. That's something beautiful and very meaningful."

For her scenes as Rose in 1977, Moore spent two months learning American Sign Language, and then got pointers from deaf actress Simmonds. "She was so nice about my signing, which is bad," Moore laughs. "It's like talking to a baby. I'm not kidding! But Millicent was very encouraging. She'd always go, 'You got it, keep going, keep practicing.'"

Watch the trailer for 'Wonderstruck' here:

Meanwhile, Julianne was able to provide some pointers to her young costars about how to adapt their performances to a historical period. "One thing Todd does so beautifully is that he assembles all these research materials for us," she says. "Obviously because I was playing a silent film actress, I looked at all of those. Then some really wonderful iconic films from the '70s and a really great documentary on the blackout of 1977. The material gave us all a tremendous amount of context. And what I think Todd does better than any filmmaker alive is physicalise and manifest emotions cinematically in cities. That's why we are so inspired by big cities and places we've created, because they are monuments to humanity."

The film's climactic sequence takes place in a vast diorama model of New York City that was built for the 1964 World's Fair and contains nearly a million buildings. In the film, Moore and Fegley get to walk through the model like giants. "It's such a special exhibit," Moore says, "because you see how enormous New York City is, but also how tiny. It's the only place in the world where I've had anonymity and community at the same time. And even in the model you can sense the humanity of the city, how it really is a little mecca for being who you want to be."