Nicole Kidman is sweating her first TIFF appearance as not only an actress but as a producer with the new film Rabbit Hole, about a couple grieving the hit-and-run car accident death of their young son.
“The reason I’m wearing this jacket is because I’m sweaty and I can’t take it off,” half-joked Kidman, 43, at a packed press conference on Tuesday afternoon.
“(I feel) very exposed, very nervous. It’s a whole different experience because it’s so personal when you’re in a film but you’re not responsible for the film. I’m responsible for this film so it’s a big weight.”
The movie, directed by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch), is based on Pulitzer Prize-winning writer David Lindsay-Abaire’s play and stars Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as the couple in question.
“It’s the place you most fear to tread, and particularly as a parent, a mother, it’s the most terrifying place to go and exist but at the same time it’s important too,” said Kidman. “Life can be very cruel and as beautiful as it can be, there’s the other end of the spectrum; it can be so painful.
“And I was just so grateful to have the chance to play Becca because for me, it was vibrating.”
Kidman said she was sitting in a cafe in Nashville (where she lives with second husband and country music star Keith Urban) reading a New York Times review of the theatrical version when she called her producing partner and told him to go see the play.
“It was wonderful and I thought, ‘Oh, I’d love to do that,” she said. “He saw it. He sent me the play. I read it that night and we approached David and we got lucky because we really wanted him to write the screenplay. Just reading it as a play, it’s so beautiful. It’s very, very precise and simple and funny and elegant … It’s about how do you live each day? It’s not the broad strokes. It’s the minute strokes … How do you live together as a couple, having had the most traumatic loss you’ll probably ever had and how do you still walk through each day and each hour?”
Kidman was also instrumental in getting Eckhart on board and his casting helped the movie’s financing together.
“I’m an enormous fan of Nicole’s and had always wanted to work with her and I have tremendous respect for ability as an actor,” said Eckhart. “Then when she called me up. You know, I don’t usually get calls from people like her, and I was honoured and immediately said yes to the project. I felt like we did have a pretty easy relationship and respected each other and admired each other so I think that makes it easier when you’re filming such tough material like this.”
In preparing for their roles, Kidman wanted to attend a parent bereavement support group but was told it wouldn’t be appropriate because “the emotions are too raw and you can’t have somebody at the group that hadn’t been through exactly the same thing, which I totally respected.”
Eckhart looked at video blogs of grieving parents on the Internet and went to a group on his own.
“I did attend one bereavement class and that was probably unethical I have to say because you really feel like you’re taking advantage of people who are laying it all out, no matter what kind of actor or sociopathy you are, you just feel like you’re a liar.”
Keith Urban prefers finished product
Nicole Kidman says her husband and country music star Keith Urban first saw her new movie, Rabbit Hole, in a rough version in their living room.
“He responded to it,” said Kidman, who was spotted with Urban on the TIFF red carpet Monday night. “He then saw it (Monday) for the first time with the music and as he said, ‘I can never see a film in a rough state again because it’s like playing a demo to you, and saying, ‘You can hear it finished can’t you?’ And I can’t hear it finished. So he had such a different response last night that was very emotional and very supportive.”
Kidman has a two-year-old daughter, Sunday, with Urban plus adopted teenagers, Bella and Connor, with ex-husband Tom Cruise.
She added she most recently took Urban to his first subtitled film and ‘He loved it. He said, ‘I like reading films.’ “