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John Scarisbrick for TIME

Fearless. That is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Julianne Moore. Of course, the words beautiful, elegant, smart, loyal and steadfast can be used to describe her too.

I was fortunate enough to witness Julianne’s incredible skill as an actress firsthand when we worked together on a film that I directed called A Single Man. I remember looking through the camera lens before the first take and realizing that she projects something very rare: an actual luminosity that is dazzling in life and that can be captured on film. This is the difference between an actor and a star.

Julianne’s character off set is just as magnetic as her onscreen presence. She has an inner beauty that will never fade. She is down to earth and real. For my 50th birthday we went white-water rafting in Idaho, where we had no baths or toilets for five days. She seemed just as comfortable in the wilderness, stripped of the trappings of stardom, as she is in front of the camera.

Julianne is one of the greatest actresses working today, but she’s also a wonderful human being. I am honored to call her my friend.

Ford is a fashion designer and director

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