Nicole Kidman Interview by IGN Filmforce
IGN FilmForce was part of a group of journalists that recently had the chance to speak with actress Nicole Kidman in Los Angeles as she discussed her role in Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, as well as the difficulties inherent in such an audacious project.
"I have a great belief in Baz as a director. I've known him and known his work for many years," Kidman says, recalling her initiation into the project. "He sent me some flowers when I was doing a play with a note saying 'I have this great character for you – she sings, she dances, and then she dies.' That piqued my interest."
The "great character" Luhrmann had lined up for Kidman was Satine, a beautiful courtesan and performer in turn-of-the-century Paris. Kidman explains that "when I got the role, I was absolutely floored and so excited because it meant being able to do something so unusual." Still, her enthusiasm was tempered as "the reality of playing it set in when we got to Sydney and did a read-through. Because in a read-through on a musical, you're not just reading lines, you've [also] got to sing. And you've got to sing unaccompanied and you hope you're in the right key. It leaves you feeling very exposed."
Kidman credits the film's director with helping her overcome the feeling of self-consciousness. "What's so brilliant about Baz," she explains, "is that he pushes you early on in the piece, so by the time you start to film you're so comfortable with what you're doing that you're ready to try anything."
That willingness to "try anything" is evident in Kidman's performance, as she embraces a wide variety of musical and theatrical styles, including an all-new interpretation of Marilyn Monroe's signature number, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend." The actress recalls: "It was a nightmare. Marilyn kind of does the quintessential number there – it's so famous and iconic. But Baz has this great belief in trying things, even if it's going to be on film forever."
Luhrmann also had great ambition in terms of telling the story through music. "[He] said 'What I really don't want with this film is to feel that when the singing starts the emotions stop,'" Kidman explains. "He wanted to keep the plot and the emotions present and alive [during the musical sequences] so people wouldn't get bored." To that end, Kidman found herself acting through song and dance as much as by dialogue: "It's amazing how you can depict strong emotions like jealousy or love or obsession through music and dance far more readily [than in conventional dialogue]."
The pacing, style and technique of Moulin Rouge couldn't be more different from Kidman's last film, Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. "It's just different – different directors demand different things," she states. "Stanley was slow and methodical and subtle. Everything had its time to just evolve. Working on this one, we had not nearly enough money for the ambition of the project, not nearly enough time. Baz is fast – he wants to shoot a lot and get a lot. Whereas with Stanley it was slow." She adds with a laugh, in regards to Eyes Wide Shut's famously long shooting schedule: "It was really slow."
For Kidman, Moulin Rouge, like Eyes Wide Shut, represents another step in her stated desire to "work with the best directors in the world." Next up for the actress? "I'm going off to London for a couple of weeks in June to work with Stephen Daldry. The Hours, it's called, and I play Virginia Woolf. I've been preparing for that for the last month."
Ultimately, Kidman explains, "I would much rather do a film with a great director and get paid nothing, which is a terrible thing to say because they know they can get me for nothing if they're any good. I don't care about the money, I don't care where it's shooting. What I do care about is attempting to do something unusual and good. Sometimes it's going to work, and sometimes it isn't. But I like the idea of trying."
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