It’s a testament to the power Nicole Kidman wields in Hollywood that Bewitched is materializing in cinemas June 24.
It took little more than a twitch of her nose to make the film a reality.
“I was at a buffet dinner party at a girlfriend’s house in L.A.
“There were three of us in the kitchen eating desserts before they were actually served,” recalls Kidman.
“I asked that, with so many TV series being turned into films, why someone hadn’t done Bewitched. My friend Carla said I should give Amy Pascal, the vice-chairman at Sony Pictures, a call and find out.”
Kidman did just that and discovered absolutely nothing was in the works, but that Pascal was eager to see a film.
The movie mogul invited Kidman to drop in for a chat.
Kidman warned Pascal that “if there wasn’t a script, I wasn’t the person to be able to craft one. She told me that, ironically, she had been talking to Nora Ephron, who had an idea for a screen treatment.”
Kidman agreed to drop into Pascal’s office. Ephron, whose films include Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail, says she received a panic call from Pascal the same day.
“Amy said: ‘Help, we’re having a meeting with Nicole Kidman. She wants to do Bewitched and we don’t have a storyline.’ Amy asked me to come up with something as quickly as possible,” says Ephron.
Fortunately for Pascal and Ephron, Kidman took a few days to make that fateful visit to Sony.
By that time, Ephron had come up with the idea of Kidman playing Isabel Bigelow, a modern-day witch who gets cast as Samantha for a film version of the popular ’60s TV sitcom.
Bewitched is one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 1960s.
Elizabeth Montgomery played the witch Samantha Stephens, who wanted to lead a normal life, but who kept having to use her powers in some subtle and some not-so-subtle ways to get herself and hubby Darrin Stephens out of trouble.
“Earlier treatments for Bewitched had fallen apart because they tried to stick to recreating the original series and that just doesn’t fly,” says Kidman, who recalls watching reruns of Bewitched in Australia in the 1970s.
“I was a little girl and Samantha was special. I loved that she could do magic. It was a little girl’s dream to have her powers.
“Back then, I think I wished for good marks on exams or a special present. I wasn’t into saving the world or erasing famine.”
In the film version of Bewitched, Will Ferrell plays Jack Wyatt, a diva actor who agrees to star in a proposed film version of the TV show.
Though he initially humiliates and manipulates Isabel, Wyatt eventually falls in love with her and she with him.
“It was easy falling for Will. There is something about his eyes that is so appealing,” says Kidman, adding she kept telling Ephron “it’s so easy playing opposite Will that this doesn’t even feel like work anymore.”
Kidman says Ferrell “brings a sense of fun to a movie set that permeates the entire atmosphere. It makes you want to go to work.”
Though Isabel falls in love with Wyatt the first moment they meet, Kidman says she has never believed in love at first sight.
“I don’t believe you glance around a room, see someone and say that is going to be your future great love. I’ve always been painfully shy and guarded, so that could never work for me.
“I need to know the person first. I need to be drawn out and need to draw him out.”
Since her divorce from Tom Cruise in 2001, Kidman has been trying to keep a low profile in her private life.
“I have two children to raise. My daughter is turning 13 this year. I remember what I was like at that age. I want to give my children as much of my time as is possible.”
That means taking Isabella and son Connor to sports events, movies and out for little family dinners.
“I’m learning to juggle. Some days I’m better at it than others.”
She says if she could — like Samantha and Isabel — wiggle her nose, she’d “wish for the ability to be aware of everything my children are up to. There are a lot of secrets these days.”
Kidman insists there is no special man in her life, explaining “my movies are my love affairs these days.
“I haven’t given up on love, but it isn’t a huge priority at the moment. If it does, my career will have to take a back seat again as it did when I was married.”
Kidman’s children are both adopted. When asked if she’d like to have a biological child, she laughs.
“I absolutely won’t go down that road. I won’t even speculate, because when I have in the past it’s created headlines in newspapers and magazines.
“Then I end up getting letters from complete strangers offering to be the father of my child. It’s funny in retrospect. It wasn’t funny at the time.”
Kidman has been acting since she was 14. She says she has learned “to value acting more than I originally did. That’s what I learned working on Eyes Wide Shut with Stanley Kubrick.
“He taught me to have enormous respect and regard for this craft we call acting.”
When Kidman started out in Australia, acting meant “getting a paycheque, getting to miss school and getting to eat all the chocolate cake I wanted.
“Back then, I enjoyed making movies. Now I respect being allowed to make them and to work with some of the greatest writers, directors and actors in the profession today.”
Kidman is currently in New York filming Fur, in which she plays photographer Diane Arbus.
She is scheduled to film Tony Scott’s thriller Emma’s War, as well as the musical drama American Darlings with Jennifer Lopez.
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