Still Alice: The Story Behind The Oscar-Winning Film

At Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, hopes are high for Julianne Moore to clinch yet another Best Actress award for Still Alice, in which she plays a 50-year-old university professor diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Ahead of the awards, we chatted to Lisa Genova, the author of the bestselling book, Still Alice.

‘I can’t wait to attend the Oscars but I haven’t had long to prepare. I’ve decided to wear a gorgeous black gown by Rolando Santana. I literally received the dresses in the post yesterday so it’s all very last minute!

Still Alice was inspired by my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. I’m a trained neuroscientist and I’d just graduated from Harvard when my grandmother was diagnosed. It was very hard watching this smart woman we all loved descend into dementia. I read everything I could about disease, yet everything was written from the point of view of an outsider. I wanted to understand what it was like for the person with the disease – and so the idea for the book was born.
 
When Still Alice was published, I allowed myself the fantasy of wondering who would play Alice should it ever be made into a movie. In May 2011, I wrote in my journal: ‘Julianne Moore for Still Alice.’ I recently emailed a picture of that page to Julianne, telling her that I’d manifested her!  

I spent five days on set and I learned so much from Julianne. We approach our jobs in a similar way. I did four months of research before I started writing Still Alice and likewise, Julianne did months of research for her role. She got to know people with early-onset Alzheimer’s and went to their support groups. She’s so approachable and between takes she chatted with me and my daughter.

I’m thrilled by all the awards Julianne has won for her portrayal of Alice. The role needed to be very nuanced – Alzheimer’s shouldn’t be over-dramatised. It’s wonderful that Julianne is achieving this incredible success and I’m also grateful that she’s using it to put the spotlight on Alzheimer’s.’

Still Alice is released in the UK on 6 March. Watch the trailer below…

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