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Interview: Nicole Kidman, Film Force, June 21st 2005

The Bewitched beauty talks about twitching noses and Will Ferrell.

In the early '90s, Nicole Kidman was known primarily as the wife of Tom Cruise. The long-legged, red-haired Australian beauty first became known to American audience in the 1989 thriller Dead Calm before making a star turn both commercially and personally opposite Tom Cruise in 1990's Days of Thunder. The mid-1990s revealed a new, more dangerous side to Kidman's abilities. As the homicidal, maniacal wife in To Die For, critics first took notice of Kidman as more than one half of Hollywood's most publicized romance. Over the past six years, Kidman has grown to enormous stature as one of the most popular and most respected actresses in mainstream cinema. A few highlights include Eyes Wide Shut, Moulin Rouge and The Others.


Kidman's stature has been a carefully constructed one. Never afraid to take risks for the chance to work on interesting projects such as Birth and Dogtown, Kidman has proven that you can have your cake and eat it too, effortlessly criss-crossing between independent films like Birthday Girl and mainstream cinema such as Cold Mountain and Stepford Wives.


Kidman's latest project is a step towards the latter. Bewitched is the second remake for the actress in as many years. Starring opposite red-hot comedian Will Ferrell, Bewitched looks to be an improvement over the commercially and critically disappointing Stepford Wives.


IGN FilmForce was among a select group of journalists admitted to the recent press day for Bewitched. We got to speak to the actress about getting that nose twitch down, working with Ferrell and what she's up to next.


So how does one twitch their nose like that? "I needed a mirror," laughs Kidman. "And I needed the slow-mo on the video and the VCR. I would put her nose in slow motion and then I would put the mirror and I would try to mimic it. And my mom would say, 'No, that wasn't very good. Try again.'"


With the many intense roles Kidman has taken on recently including The Interpreter earlier this year, Bewitched looks to be a welcome reprieve. "Also because I'd watched the series as a kid. This seemed something quite fun, the idea of having watched something as a little girl and then being able to step into it as a woman and kind of pay homage to it."


Working on a show with such a long history and fan base, we asked Kidman whether she was hesitant to take on that kind of responsibility. "I think you're always hesitant about any movie, so I don't think it's even, I mean, everything that you try to do, whether it be adapting a novel or trying to do a remake of a TV series.... In the strangest way, remaking a TV series has far less kind of owners of it then trying to do Portrait of a Lady… (Laughs) I think the lesson you learn is you do not try to stay within the confinements of what's been set, and that's where I think Nora kind of tackled it quite well. But even though you're doing a remake, she was able to find another way of telling a story with this film."


Playing Isabel in the film, the character has a certain penchant for food and, in particular, Cool Whip. "Nora [Ephron] and Cool Whip. I think that Nora and food, if you notice, there's a lot of consumption of food in this film when people are depressed… She was a food critic, Nora, and she has, when you make one of her films, they say she has the best catering in the business… Nora is incredibly witty and powerful as a woman, yet she's also extremely sort of nurturing. She invites you over on a Saturday night and she does all the cooking. She has 30 people over and she loves to direct the film during the week and entertain on the weekends. I think that's something that people don't realize about her, is there's such a softness to her and at the same time, she's one of the smartest writers and smartest women working today."


Kidman says that she certainly wouldn't mind possessing a few of her character's magical abilities now and again. "It's kind of nice to be able to, if you're pissed off, walk through and blow up a cappuccino machine and make a dog jump into your arms and make him speak in tongues, you know? (Laughs) I think that's kind of funny and cool. But at the same time, I think the concept is that everyone wishes they could do a little magic. And I think the overall idea of the film is that, to fall in love requires a little magic."


Kidman and Ferrell seem like a bit of an odd pair at first. "They always seem to say that about me. They said that Sean Penn and me were unexpected… But I suppose with Will and I, it really is kind of an odd pairing, but at the same time, it was a really fun pairing. He's very generous with his talent, put it that way. He would always be like, 'Come on Nicole, you can do it,' and coaxing me out of my shell."


During one scene in the film, Ferrell's character, Jack Wyatt, makes a list of ridiculous demands such as cake day on set and a weekly surprise gift. Kidman says that she's never experienced such demands amongst her co-stars. "I've tended to work with huge stars and I've never really seen that, to be honest. They say that usually happens with people that are in fear. A lot of the people that I work with tend not to be that fearful, they tend to be really hard workers and really passionate about what they do and willing to do things for very little money to make a good film. I think a lot of it, I mean, I'm working on a film now where the budget is so small and we're kind of running trying to get everything we can so that the director gets his shot, so that the film gets made, because it's such a bold, unusual thing, because there isn't a lot of money for it to be made… That's your passion, that's your commitment, that's what you do."


Kidman is currently filming Fur, directed by Steven Shainberg. In the film she plays photographer Diane Arbus. Well I only just started making the film. We only just started a week [ago] and we've been shooting now for two weeks… It's hard to talk about something before it comes out… When you see the film, it's a far different thing. It's better to talk about that then, because it's not really a biopic. The same director as Secretary, so it's hard. It's hard to talk about it without people having read the script or seen it… Not now. Next year."


Before Fur, Kidman had traveled to Australia to shoot a film entitled Eucalyptus with Russell Crowe. Unfortunately, that film fell apart before production. "They just didn't have the script together and Fox decided not to make the film, which was a very bold move considering what we were attempting to do. But at the same time, I think it was the right move, because a lot of times films go ahead and get made and people know that they're not gonna be good and they still make them. This was a very honorable decision in the sense that, you know, they didn't want to waste the money and make something that wasn't going to be good."


As Bewitched nears release, it's hard to miss the giant billboards and paintings on the sides of films. We asked Kidman if this kind of branding ever gets weird. "I was driving in the car in New York and the girl who was in the car with me was saying, 'When does Bewitched come out?' Then she looked up and she went, and it was one of those neon lights going 'June 24th, Bewitched June 24th, Nicole Kidman,' and she went, 'How weird is that?' And I thought, 'Yeah, that is weird.' I had the same experience when I was doing Blue Room in New York and I would drive by the sign and see that Broadway sign and your name and you go, 'God, no.' You don't get used to it. At the same time you go, who would think that you could come from a country as far away as Australia and have your name in lights on Broadway. It can happen. They say it can't but it can."



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