The good news? Lovely Julianne Moore plays Wavey, the single mom romanced by Kevin Spacey's Quoyle in the movie version of The Shipping News. The bad news? This entailed weeks of frosty filming up in Newfoundland. "It's a beautiful place, but very rough and wild," she says. "It got very, very cold and raw. The weather was constantly changing... In the middle of a scene, you could go from fog to sun or rain. It would be a tough place to live, [which] made me appreciate the resilience of the woman I played."

Moore recalls she could always count on Spacey for comic relief on the rough days. For while Spacey was emotionally withdrawn as the troubled Quoyle, he was anything but when the camera stopped rolling. "Kevin is very light-hearted," she smiles. "I think it was [co-star] Judi Dench who said she never knew when he was going to make her laugh. Fortunately, he got serious in a scene, but the rest of the time he was going out of his way to make sure everyone was having a good time.

"The best part of Kevin," she muses, "is that he's an actor who doesn't take himself overly seriously. I like to mess around too, so we both had a ball."

The pregnant Moore — who has a son with director Bart Freundlich and expects another boy in April — closely identified with Wavey's commitment to her developmentally challenged child. Says the actress: "I brought my own son along where we filmed [and] it made me want to hug him a little harder. You realize that, as a parent, the depth of your responsibility and love for your child is so enormous that it kind of overcomes everything. I think it makes you realize that whatever happens, as a mother you can find the strength to cope.

"As I met real Newfoundlanders," Moore adds, "I came to understand how [Shipping News author] E. Annie Proulx has captured their spirit. They are essentially tough because they have to endure a lot. But they're also tremendously empathetic and very community-oriented. They linger in your memory. And so will everyone in the cast — because enduring that climate brought us all closer together, with Kevin's spirit leading the way. It was a great group of people."