Carrie-Anne Moss, from Action Chick to Super Mom

By Paul Martin November 11th, 2003, in The Matrix Cast

Hassan Ali sent us a new CAM article from the Egyptian gazette, By Dr. Emad El-Din Aysha

Actress Carrie-Anne Moss gave birth last month, reportedly to a baby boy. In celebration I’ve decided to continue my unending quest of trying to figure out who Mrs Moss is in another Eye On ‘review’ piece.

From the CAM look to the CAM ‘effect’

Let’s begin with her visual effect. Her beauty isn’t a question of how pretty her eyes are but how warm and bright they look. It’s not just the sheen of her skin, it’s how it moves. It’s not just how sleek and shapely her body is, it’s how she stands (almost on tiptoe), how she bends her back forwards ever so slightly, how her shoulders slope, broad shouldered as she is. She seems vibrant, radiant. And there’s an air of vulnerability about her that’s just inexplicable. Given her height, physique and strong features, Mrs Moss looks like she could protect Kevin Costner in a sequel to The Bodyguard! Yet, something about her stirs your paternal instincts, makes you want to father her as well as love her. You get this urge to put your arms round her (shoulders, only), pat her on the back, ask her how her day at school was, and tell her how proud you are of her.

To further illustrate this point we have Ian Carson’s article on Mrs Moss

(…n2002-05_02.jpg). The article sounds like it’s out of his diary. He starts off talking about her in romantic terms, lamenting his inability to form a relationship with her like the girl he never had a chance to love, the girl at high school he didn’t ask to the prom because he was too shy and smitten by her. Then he shifts to talking about her like she’s his daughter or little sister. In both cases he sees her as a ‘girl’. I hope for his sake that he isn’t married, or he’s going to spend the rest of his life sleeping on the couch. Bachelorhood is ideal for us movie critics, isn’t it? Certainly, it makes it easier to be a birdwatcher. (British readers will know what I mean by ‘bird’).

In various interviews CAM has described herself as a ‘girlie girl’, a ‘cry-baby’, who watches mostly soppy, romantic films, is a ‘very sensitive person’ and someone that isn’t naturally ‘still’. Sound familiar? The way she holds her back and shoulders are part of this girlish demeanour, subliminally reminding men of what schoolgirls look like when they hold books to their chests. I suspect that Mrs Moss, as tough, dedicated and passionate as she is, is still, in many ways, a little girl. She’s in touch with her ‘inner child’, giving her the kind of forthrightness and emotionality kids have before they grow up and learn to hide their feelings and follow convention. Sir Alec Guinness once commented about how everybody is an actor when they’re a child, then all of a sudden they grow up and want to become dentists or lawyers and ruin it all. Thank goodness CAM didn’t grow up! Except for growing where it matters, in terms of responsibilities and, well, other things.

It’s also great that she can marshal those emotions on command, with the aid of training and a good director, or she’d end up being just cute and adorable all the time, no matter what character she’s playing. This is a problem the equally girlish Terry Farrell has (not that I’m complaining). CAM’s cuteness may explain her taste for warm, fuzzy clothes, jumpers and sweatshirts and what not, explaining why she looked better (at least to me) in the grey Dickensian jumper than the tight leather suit in The Matrix. In those scenes, at a certain level of her personality as an actress, she was being herself.

Drive and Dedication

CAM’s physical sacrifices are now legendary, flying a helicopter for 10 minutes in The Matrix, doing all her own motorcycle stunts in the sequel (though she’s terrified of motorcycles), and breaking her leg during the sequel but training from 9 to 5 for two whole years nonetheless. (NB: Please compare this to a complaint made by an Egyptian actor about having to wait 14 hours without shooting. How God-awful-terrible!) But that’s not the only measure of her dedication as an actress. Take a peek at her performance in the lacklustre Red Planet, playing the tough-as-nails Commander Kate Bowman. Apart from being the only person to actually give a performance, she was completely in character while everyone else was doing their own thing. Good guy Terence Stamp acting like a Shakespearian bad guy, Tom Sizemore doing his ‘blue-collar hero’ routine even though he was playing an egghead scientist, Benjamin Bratt on his never ending Latin machismo ego-trip (with a female commander) and Val Kilmer as cookie and weird as he (reportedly) is in real life. I suspect the director wasn’t very hands-on, but that didn’t stop her flying solo in a way that served the movie, out-acting a formidable cast while trapped in the Hollywood straightjacket of an ‘eye candy’ role.

She did let her guard down in a couple of scenes, though. Before she takes that infamous shower, she’s completely out of character; perky and jovial, almost hopping to the shower. She looks that way even when she’s taking the shower. My suspicion is that, given the lewd content and intention of that scene, she revered to her childishness and made those situations, in her mind, into a joke. Something to laugh at, not take seriously so she could stomach being exploited and ogled at (not that I have a right to complain). I don’t know what her attitudes are towards nudity, but she does hate doing sex scenes (loves watching them, though – compensation? empowerment?), and seems to dress ‘conservatively’ (long skirts, thick clothes, colourful but calm colours).

So, what is it that drives her? What lets her draw on her passions, her feminine emotional reservoir? In a word, her mother. CAM was raised by a single mom along with her elder brother. She praises her endlessly, and rightfully so, talking about how she’s never been afraid to do anything in her life because her mom was always there to encourage her, coupling her remarks with talk of acting being essentially about ‘confidence’. My guess is that CAM wants to be like her mother, live up to her standards and make her proud, give her mother back a little of what she took. I suspect also her (absent) father, or her elder brother (surrogate father), plays a secondary role. The need to please a male authority figure; like a director who insists she do stunts that scare her, or do sexy scenes that annoy her (and me, in a hypocritical kind of way). That may explain a lot, how her body language stirs up specific kinds of benign emotions in men, communicating to them subliminally about her emotional needs. Possibly her school – which I hear was quite exclusive, and probably also strict and conservative – drummed a strong work ethic into her also.


To finish off, all that’s left to say is ‘Mabruk’ (congratulations) for the baby, and ‘Mabruk’ for finally getting a chance to be like her mother, as a mother. Hence, the title of this piece. I think the title captures her own sentiments, given what she told the Daily Record: “I’ll never be in another movie like The Matrix and I will never be away from home that long again. It’s too much work. Eventually, I want to be a full-time mother who works occasionally – and being an actor you have that freedom” (quoted in Lee-Ann Fullerton, “Carrie-Anne Puts the Ma In Matrix”, 9 September 2003). If asked ‘who are you’, she’d probably answer, first and foremost a mom. (NB: I’ve really got to stop writing about Mrs Moss. At this rate I’m going to end up becoming a feminist!)

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