Beautiful but maddeningly aloof, Irish American actress and model Bridget Moynahan has had a two-decade high profile career filled with enough drama and heartache to last a lifetime. But don’t expect to read about it in the papers.
If reality TV has taught us anything it’s this -- being a celebrity really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Oh, there are the perks of course, like top-flight hotels, international travel, champagne breakfasts, designer threads and really outrageous shoes. But when the trade off includes your contentment, your love life and even your sanity, well it loses its fascination a bit, doesn’t it?
Just ask Bridget Moynahan, 40, star of Ramona and Beezus, the pleasantly diverting family film co-starring her old Sex and the City buddy John Corbett, which opens this week.
On the surface Moynahan seems to have it all, beauty, brains and a lucrative two decade career as a model and an actress. Ah, but underneath.
Breezing into the swank foyer of the London Hotel in New York, Moynahan’s permanently arched eyebrows convey one simple message -- get me outta here. If fame is a drug, it looks like Moynihan’s ready for rehab.
Maybe it’s just her Irish American values asserting themselves. There’s a case to be made that her unusually aloof manner is just an example of a longstanding and quite sensible Irish mistrust of too much sweet talk. Or maybe, as I suspect, Moynahan grown to hate the celebrity side of being a celebrity.
Either way, her strained expression suggests she’d rather be potholing in Wales, or pony trekking across the Himalayas, anything -- anything -- other than meeting the press.
It’s enough to make you wonder why she bothers. If being a famous actress is such a drag, why do it? It’s not as if there aren’t a thousand other starlets just waiting to prise the Manolo Blahnik’s from her feet.
But today as she sweeps through the London Hotel like a latter day Grace Kelly, there’s a distinct iciness to her manner that’s not so much classy as cross. Instead of taking the focus off her, it makes you wonder about her and her life to date. Certainly she’s had her fair share of provocations.
Take Tom Brady, for example. From the moment Moynahan walked into the convention center room of the hotel Brady’s name has hung over the proceedings as if it had been set there in neon lights the night before.
Moynahan dated the famous Super Bowl winning New England Patriots quarterback from 2004 until late 2006, when he left her three months pregnant for the Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, who he since married and had a child with.
Ouch, that had to hurt. (Moynahan gave birth to her and Brady’s son, John Edward Thomas Moynahan, in August of 2007.) But in her interviews Moynahan stays above the fray.
“No matter what’s been thrown at me in the past couple of years, I try to find the positive,” she tells us at the film’s press conference (she’s not taking individual interviews, we’ve been told).
“It’s easy to bitch and to listen to your people bitch, so if someone going through a divorce asks me for advice, I say, ‘All the he said/she said stuff doesn't matter. And your kid will pick up on that energy. Keep your kids the focus.’”
Fair enough. You don’t have to be psychic to gather that being alone and pregnant while your boyfriend’s cavorting with a supermodel must have sucked.
But we’re here to talk about her new film, Ramona and Beezus in which Moynahan plays a strong, independent mother, the kind of role model any young girl would be lucky to have.
Based on the 30 million and counting bestselling books by Beverly Cleary, the new film follows a young girl (a superb Disney queen Selena Gomez) who has to deal with the increasingly exasperating antics of her imaginative younger sister, Ramona Quimby (played by livewire Joey King).
Was her own Irish American background a factor in approaching the role? Was that what enticed her to play the part?
“I like the family values in the script. I thought they were very relatable. And I knew the books they were based on, I’d read them myself growing up,” Moynahan says.
Wait, is a Hollywood actress talking about family values? Is a meteorite due to hit? Is the end nigh?
Or is Moynahan just avoiding every opportunity to open up and talk about her personal life, no matter what the context? It seems that that the last impression is the right one, because for all 45 minutes of this yawn-inducing discussion we learn very little about her.
Born in Binghamton, New York, the daughter of Irish American parents Mary Bridget (a former school teacher) and Edward Bradley Moynahan (a scientist and former administrator at the University of Massachusetts) Moynahan had a classic Irish American upbringing, family centered and reassuringly stable, and from day one she excelled.
When she was seven, her parents moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts where she and her brother Andy and Sean attended Longmeadow High School. She was a bit of a jock between classes, captaining the girls’ soccer, basketball and lacrosse teams. Friends predicted great things for her.
Striking to look at and uncommonly tall, she was encouraged by her pals to pursue a career in modeling, although she admits she had no interest in fashion as a teen.
But she took the plunge and headed down to New York City, where by the age of 19 she was appearing in magazines like Vogue and Elle.
It was a heady new life that paid extremely well, but she had the smarts even then to know it would never last. That level-headedness led her toward her second career as an actress.
With success came complications, though. Moynahan’s fashion career was flawless, but her career as an actress has been more challenging.
She won terrific high profile supporting parts in several big budget flicks like I, Robot, and she was Mr. Big’s spurned wife Natasha in Sex and the City, but somehow, to date, she’s not been seen as leading lady material. That may all change when her new cop series on CBS, Blue Bloods, co-starring Irish American actor Donnie Wahlberg, debuts in the fall.
But regardless of its success or failure, one thing seems certain not to change -- Moynahan’s dislike of the press. When she talks about the media, she doesn’t mince words.
“The paparazzi are intrusive, offensive, and aggressive. It’s not something that I respect or, quite frankly, deserve,” she says.
“I don’t search it out. I lead a quiet life. I don’t go out as much as I’d like because I don’t want my son to be involved in that. We do things privately, like reading Dr. Seuss, playing games and listening to music.
“That’s why you haven’t seen many photos of us. I don’t need to parade him around.”
Staying out of the limelight is something she prefers in her personal life too. Unlike the masses, she’s not tempted to join the Facebook and Twitter revolution.
“I don’t need anyone to know that much about me, nor do I need to know everyone’s random, lame thoughts throughout the day,” she says.
Curiously enough though, Moynahan’s point of view concerning her tense relationship with the father of her son is a matter of public record, if her circle of close friends is to be believed. Through her pals Moynahan has let the public know that she disapproves of seeing her son and Brady’s son photographed by the paparazzi.
“Discretion and respect are not either of Gisele or Tom’s virtues,” sniffed one of Moynahan’s friends to the press recently, “as was evidenced even when the child was still unborn and they publicly flaunted their relationship without any discretion whatsoever.”
Moynahan’s discretion, which finds its roots in a very public heartbreak, is something that she is unlikely to ever abandon. Having loved and lost in the most exposed way imaginable, it’s no surprise she’s decided not to open herself to that kind of scrutiny again.
But for a person making a living in the public eye it’s also fairly ironic. The last place on earth to be retiring is in front of the camera, isn’t it?
Ramona and Beezus opens nationwide on Friday.