actress Julianne Moore’s latest film is Hannibal, the sequel
to the 1991 Oscar success The Silence of the Lambs. She
reprises a role made famous by Jodie Foster, that of FBI trainee-turned-agent
been a steady cinema favorite over the past few years. Her amazing acting
versatility has rendered memorable performances in a variety of movies.
These include a dimwitted pushover (Cookie’s Fortune), a
repentant gold-digger (Magnolia), a maternally inclined
porn star (Boogie Nights) and a wartime English adulteress
(The End of the Affair). Her stellar work
has earned Oscar nominations for the latter two roles.
Voice of Clarice Starling
nature of her Sun in Sagittarius, a sign typically associated with belief,
faith and open expression, is augmented by the placement of her communication
planet Mercury in the sign of Scorpio. Though Sagittarians are usually
effusive, Mercury in Scorpio directs Moore’s natural curiosity to matters
of intrigue. Mercury here is less inclined to revealing behavior than
when it is found in Sagittarius.
and Foster share more than the role of Clarice Starling. Both actresses
were born with Mercury at the same point. This essential connection
between them demonstrates what a natural replacement Moore makes in Foster’s
absence. Mercury in Scorpio is compelled to explore the depths of matters
and is drawn to what is beneath the surface, making this a suitable sign
placement to represent a character like Starling.
Language and Symbolism
of Mercury in a chart correspond largely to its mythological relationship
with Hermes, the Greek messenger of the gods. Hermes was the one god who
traveled between the heavens and the underworld, a crucial myth in understanding
actors go where most of us don’t. They transfer information to us from
another world, just as Hermes did for the other gods. Mercury plays a
crucial symbolic role for actors as they “interpret” the words and expressions
of a character. In this way actors are messengers, whether they are reciting
Shakespeare or advertising new brands of mayonnaise.
the only planet that actually does symbolize, in the essential sense of
the word, in its expression. While the other planets represent simple
and concrete principles (Sun-self, Moon-emotions, etc.), Mercury is the
planet of symbolism and language, and its very definition includes the
act of interpretation.
for a Descent Into Hell
Pluto, with its mythological link to Hades, the ruler of the underworld,
was approaching (traveling close to the point of) Foster’s Mercury position
in 1991, the year The Silence of the Lambs was released.
In that movie, Starling was plucked fresh from the FBI Academy at Quantico
to interview the genius madman Hannibal Lecter and acquire insight that
would help a serial murder investigation.
depiction of her descent through the catacomb-like madhouse prison that
housed him was right out of mythology. The riveting scenario and subsequent
exchange between Starling and Lecter was an interpretation of Mercury’s (Starling) travels to the underworld as a messenger
between the gods (FBI) and Pluto/Hades (Lecter).
Scary Man Himself
planet associated with authority, duty and deprivation, is transiting
(traveling) opposite Moore’s Mercury position at the time of Hannibal’s
release. Saturn’s interaction with Moore’s Mercury (i.e., her role as
Starling) can be explored thematically in relation to Starling’s experiences
during the course of the film. For instance, in Starling’s context, Saturn
represents the scary man himself, Hannibal Lecter. Sir Anthony Hopkins
reprises his Oscar-winning role as the brilliant madman, now at large
in Florence, Italy and primed for a reunion with Starling.
represented the dark and frightening knowledge of Pluto in relation to
Foster’s Starling, to Moore’s Starling he is an old mentor and friend
of sorts, making his way back into her life.
As the planet
of structure and formality, Saturn’s opposition to Moore’s Mercury mirrors
the polar, but sympathetic, relationship between Starling and Lecter.
Lecter, an extremely dangerous maniac to most, respects Starling largely
due to her “manners” and courtesy toward him. As Silence
ended, he assured her safety and guaranteed they would meet again some
day. That time, it seems, has come.
In a non-fictional
context, Saturn’s transiting opposition to Moore and Foster’s Mercury
is an indication of the inevitable comparisons that will be made between
the two women and their respective roles in the series.
that both women receive this transit at the same time might reflect a
split public opinion on a favorite. Maybe the state of Florida will have
to decide more than once whether it prefers Foster or Moore as the definitive
Classic Movie Pairing?
is sure to shine in Hannibal, she has risked taking some
hits on the chin for her ambitious effort to recreate the chemistry of
a classic movie pairing. Having been on the short list of critics’ darlings
for some time, it may be time for a little backlash.
even excluding their astrological relationship, it would be hard to find
another actress of Foster’s caliber to take the role. Their physical appearance
and acting styles share certain similarities, at least to the extent of
how they both suit the part.
Mercury in Scorpio has made the role of Clarice Starling a legacy between
the two of them. Whatever reaction her performance gets, no one can deny
Moore had the courage to break the silence.