Actress Moira Kelly Reveals Her Maternal Side In “The Tie That Binds”

Author: By Kim Williamson

Moira Kelly believes that, in real life, being a mother is the “role of a lifetime.” At this point in her career, the 26-year-old remains single and childless but, with her new role in “The Tie That Binds” Kelly can live her dream at least on the big screen.

In the thriller, which marks the directorial debut of screenwriter Wesley Strick (“Cape Fear”), Kelly plays an adoptive mother of a six-year-old girl whose biological parents (Keith Carradine and Daryl Hannah) come calling for their progeny-while they’re on the run for murder. “It is my job to protect this child,” explains Kelly, sitting in her trailer while taking a noon break from a fall day’s shoot in Pasadena, Calif. “And I never thought that I would be called upon so early in the relationship with the child to protect her this way. To be tested.”

Well known for her turns as coming-of-age women in the likes of “The Cutting Edge” and “With Honors,” Kelly sees her role in this Interscope production as a test of another sort-at least in producers’ eyes, who might be unaccustomed to “the idea of me playing a mother.” When Disney’s Hollywood Pictures releases “The Tie That Binds” this August, Kelly hopes that “Hollywood will look at me and say, `Okay, I can see it: Moira Kelly can play a mom.’ It’s been hard for me to prove to them that I can play a 20-year-old sometimes,” she says, chuckling. “They see me as the young college girl, or even back in high school.”

For those that know Kelly well, though, her playing a mother must seem like typecasting. Growing up in a small Long Island town, “I just wanted to be married and to be happy ever after,” she recalls. “I used to babysit a lot, and I used to be a nanny. So all those old tricks and instinctual things that I had when I was taking care of kids back then are coming back to me [on the set] and reminding me of times I had working with kids. Really good, fun times. Julia [Devin, who plays the little girl] is amazing and so much fun. Children are so creative and imaginative that they just bring you to life all over again. I feel warming, maternal emotions on this film.”

Outside movie sets, though, her life is a different story. “Why am I not a mom yet?” she asks rhetorically, laughing. “It takes another partner, actually, for that to happen. This is something I like a lot of people who are looking to get into this business to realize: It’s not as easy a life as you think. It means sacrificing a lot of things like time, and a settled place”especially being in my position and at my age. Still kind of starting, getting in there, proving myself. You’re always moving here for three months, then here for three months. Trying to get someone to accept that”that you’re going to be away for that amount of time”is hard. I don’t like being away from my family and friends all the time. I don’t like not being able to plan things months in advance because you don’t know where you’ll be. It takes a lot out of you to be in this business.”

When she’s not at work, Kelly is more than likely to be back home with her parents. “Family is everything,” Kelly says. “They’ll accept you for anything you do. They’ll love you through everything, they’ll support you through everything. They’ll always be there if you need them. And they’re the most honest people that you’ll ever come across. They’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.”

Those ethics, of course, aren’t commonly regarded as those of Hollywood, and Kelly’s involvement with the entertainment industry strikes some as surprising because she is a devout Catholic”as if Hollywood and Catholicism were entirely different creeds. “Well, Hollywood and anything are entirely different creeds,” she says, laughing. “Hollywood is a world all its own.”

Another frequent point of interest in Kelly is how she balances her religious beliefs with the nude scenes she’s done”and has since rethought her position on. “I find nothing wrong with the naked body,” Kelly says. “I’m capable of going to museums and looking at sculptures and paintings and being `responsi-ble’ for the bea-uty of the piece, rather than some perversion of the piece. But in movies it’s too easy for too many people of too many different backgrounds, too many beliefs, to go and see what it is that you are doing. I don’t think a majority of audience members are `responsible’ to the actual piece they’re watching. They should say, `I’m not here to get my kicks from looking at a naked body.’ But all a lot of people see is the naked body and they go `off.’ So I look at it now as my responsibility not to give them something to go `off’ on.”

(As fate would have it, Kelly’s next project is “Dorothy Day,” a biopic about a 1920s Catholic relief worker/activist. The film is being made by Paulist Productions.)

As for what her own future holds, Kelly says the day may come when Hollywood no longer entices her. “Everyone says, `Don’t say that! Don’t let anyone know that!’ But it’s true. I’m happy to be here, but this is not it for me. Maybe one day I will be married with kids, and I’d like that.” Which is no surprise. As Kelly says, “Family. That’s it.”

“The Tie That Binds.” Starring Moira Kelly, Daryl Hannah, Vincent Spano and Keith Carradine. Directed by Wesley Strick. Written by Michael Auerbach. An Interscope production. A Buena Vista release. August.