When the team behind the big-screen adaptation of the classic '60s sitcom Bewitched went looking for a modern-day actress with the right amount of magic, they made a clean sweep when they handed the broom to Nicole Kidman.
Indeed, when Hollywood.com had an audience with Kidman, it was hard NOT to be utterly enchanted by her luminous, otherworldly beauty and fall under the spell of her charms--a unique blend of shy glances, surprisingly candid responses and a dash of Aussie sauciness. And she knows noses: first there was the Virginia Woolf honker she donned for The Hours, and now she's mastered Samantha Stevens' sprightly spellcasting nasal twitch.
Was it the nose twitch that got you the part?
Nicole Kidman: "They said it was my nose, yeah."
That was all you--no CGI?
Kidman: "No, I really do it! I should've been fired if I couldn't do that."
Did you watch the show growing up in Australia? What did you like about it?
Kidman: "I did. I think that she could do magic. And that she was always fighting herself not to do it. I think that for a young girl, that's like your dream, isn't it? That you could wiggle your nose and make something happen, things you dream of and wish for."
What would you have wished for, if you had those powers?
Kidman: "God, I can't remember now. I think it was more like that I would pass my exams, just the simple things. That I'd get a great Christmas present. You know--little girl things."
As a mom, what would you twitch your nose and make happen?
Kidman: "Now? I think it would be that you're able to be aware of everything your children were up to. I think what happens when they hit 13 is there's a lot of secrets. My daughter will turn 13 very soon, this year."
Were there other Elizabeth Montgomery things that you felt the need to do to pay homage to her?
Kidman: "I think the way Nora wrote the script is that she kind of incorporated, quite cleverly, the series, able to invent new characters for us, rather than trying to mimic Darren and Samantha. We were able to kind of have an essence of them, and then set it now. Because it was one of those things where many people had tried to develop it and had never quite been able to make a story. Because if you just stick to the series, then the actual story of that just doesn't warrant a feature film. So that was the struggle, and I think that's where Delia--who is Nora's sister and they write things together--that was the thing, the concept was the thing you needed to launch this."
Had you seen other versions of the script before this one?
Kidman: "No. I was at my girlfriend's house having kind of a buffet dinner party, and another friend of hers and I were standing in the kitchen, eating the dessert before it had been served, and out of that came a conversation: 'Gosh, one of the series they haven't ever made was Bewitched and why haven't they done it?' And then Carla Gugino, the one I was standing in the kitchen with and who I saw actually last night, said 'Go and find out what's happening with that.' I had to say 'Thank you, you are responsible for this now' So I called up and said to Amy Pascal who runs Sony 'What's happening with that?' and she said 'Absolutely nothing. Come in here tomorrow and we'll talk.' I don't think I came in the next day, but I certainly within a few weeks went in and had a meeting with her. And it just kind of eventuated out of nothing, and very, very quickly. And it had been stalled for years."
So did you come on before Nora?
Kidman: "We came on at the same time. That was kind of the clincher for me. I said 'Well, if you don't have a script done, then I'm not going to be able to crack the story. How am I going to do that? I'm not a writer.' And she said "Well, actually, I had Nora Ephron on the phone this morning, and she's come up with this wacky idea. What do you think about...' And then she sort of pitched the thing to me."
Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson were sitting in the screening, and they were just dying laughing through the whole movie.
Kidman: "Really? They were sitting in front? That's really sweet. Actually, I asked Rita and Tom before I worked with Nora, 'Should I work with her, one, and am I gonna have fun?' And both of them said 'Absolutely, you have to do it. And on top of that, she has the best catering in the world.' And she does! I have to say, we all were like 'I can't believe this,' because she would fly cakes in from Seattle, some store down there that makes a particular type of cake--She used to be a food critic, so it's always good to have your director having been a food critic. [laughs]"
Was it much of a challenge to do a romantic scene with Will Farrell?
Kidman:"No, because I look at him and I just suddenly--I don't know, there's just something about his eyes that make you kind of want to be around him. So I didn't find anything to be difficult with him, to be honest. I kept saying to Nora, I would say 'My God, it doesn't feel like I'm working. It just feels too easy."
What about keeping a straight face?
Kidman: "Well, you don't have to. When you're doing a film like this, so much of it is about you're always on the verge of laughter. A lot of it is about this sense of anticipation and fun within you, and allowing that to exist and I think in some ways kind of seep through."
When you met Shirley MacLaine, were you star-struck? What happened during your first meeting?
Kidman: "Absolutely. I've met her many times through the years at parties and stuff, and I think because we've both got pale skin and red hair, we were sort of--she said to me 'We've got things that connect us.' And now she calls me her 'alien.' [laughs]"
Shirley said you HAVE to act--part of your makeup is that you HAVE to act. Do you agree?
Kidman: "At this particular stage in my life, I have to. I think--and I've said it before--my ability to balance things is not good, so I either work, or I don't work, and there's kind of nothing in between. So at this particular time, my films are like my love affairs, in a way. I have the experience of being able to put all of these emotions into my characters, and I think when that really gets filled in your life, then you're kind of not as interested. Which is why when I was married it was not as interesting to me. You kind of dabble--I dabbled. And then now I take it far more seriously."
Do you love acting as much as you did when you started out?
Kidman: "I think as a child which is when I started acting, I was more like 'Oh, great, I get a paycheck and get to go and eat chocolate cake and that kind of thing, and get out of school.' And then I grew into it…I value it more. I put an enormous amount of--I suppose that's the thing Stanley Kubrik taught me, that it is your art. And not meaning to sound sort of pretentious about that, but at the same time you can say 'Oh, I'm just an actor,' and 'Oh, it's silly,' and you just kind of get through it, or you can actually say 'No, cinema is important,' and being an actor and contributing to these stories and ideas with some of the greatest minds working today in terms of directors. There's enormous value to that. And have enormous respect and regard for it."
Shirley said you were one of the greats, like Meryl Streep.
Kidman: "No, I say that about her. I say...you know, Meryl gets a lot of the accolades, but if you look at Shirley's performances over the years, there's a woman who's given some of the greatest comedic-dramatic--which is the hardest thing to do--performances, where she's made us laugh and cry at the same time, and her balance of that is. As another actress, I say that is one of the hardest things to do, and if you look at Terms of Endearment, if you look at these things where she was walking a tightrope and was the heart and soul of the film, you just go 'Oh!' She made Jack [Nicolson] better [laughs]. And he's pretty good!"
How was working with Michael Caine?
Kidman: "He's divine. He truly is--he's got those wonderfully mischievous eyes. He's given some great, great performances. He still has an enormous sense of fun and love of what he does. He's someone who would say he does believe in love at first sight, because he saw his wife on a TV screen, I think, and went 'That's the woman for me.' He just has a genuine joie de vivre and I really enjoyed him."
Do you believe in love at first sight, like your character in this film, or Michael and his wife in real life?
Kidman: "Probably not, no. First sight? I mean, when you sort of glance across the room and say 'There's my future love?' I think no. You've got to kind of get to know somebody. And I suppose just with my personality, I'm someone that's a little bit more shy and I tend to need to be drawn out."
Would you like to have a bigger family in the future?
Kidman: "Oh God. If I go down this territory, then I end up getting letters from people saying 'I'll be the father of your child.' [laughes] But I don't KNOW you."
Do you really get that?
Kidman: "To be honest, I've really had that, yeah. I have NOT responded."
What kind of reaction from your fans have you gotten lately?
Kidman: "It's so strange, because I went to this theater and there were some 12 and 13 year old girls there who came running up to me and said [gasping] 'We can't wait to see Bewitched!' And that was really cool, because the last film that I made for that sort of age group was Moulin Rouge and it's really, really satisfying to make films for younger people, because their kind of enthusiasm for what you do is so unbridled. You kind of sense it and feel it, and it's nice."
How do you feel as a well-known actor about loss of privacy? I don't mean the paparazzi, but people stopping you on the street. Has that ever gotten in the way?
Kidman: "No, in the sense that I decline to answer a lot of things. I used to be painfully shy, and now I can do the things that I could never do before, so I don't know if it's guarded or you just need to be coaxed out of your shell a little bit. I'm very protective of who I am and what I do. Emotionally, I try to be very honest and try to deal with things in a really honest way so you don't ever get accused of lying, or therefore I think your authenticity gets sort of challenged. But in terms of just being recognized, I'm quite fortunate in that I play such an array of characters that people don't really know who I am, and there tends to be this strange warmth, which is really nice. People don't intrude. I've had things with paparazzi, but in a much broader sense. Audiences and people in the street and people that I meet tend not to invade or be invasive."
Are you able to take your children out to the park and do normal things like that?
Kidman: "Oh yeah. I go to the movies. I live my life, I really do. I think that's one of the great gifts that children give you, is that they make you do that. They don't allow you to get into a state of reclusiveness, which could happen."
Fashionwise, you always look amazing. Do you ever dress down?
Kidman: "Yeah. Just before I arrived here. I woke up at 7 in the morning to play tennis with my son. I was at the MTV Awards last night. We then came home and ordered room service and went to bed about midnight. I staggered out of bed at about 6 so I could get him up so that I could get him on the court at 7 a.m., and I've gotta tell you, it's NOT pretty. [laughs] It's sweats and a t-shirt, and slightly bleary-eyed, but desperately trying to be a good mom, you know? [laughs] Trying to say 'See? You can do it all.'"
How do you do it all?
Kidman: "You don't. What you've right now is a bit of a tired mother. And then my kids have gone to the Dodgers game while I'm doing this, and then we're off to an Italian restaurant tonight because I don't have time to cook. So there you see it, trying to juggle, right?"
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