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Special Features » Movie Of The Month
As part of a monthly feature here at Nicole's Magic, each month we will be taking a look back at one
of Nicole's films or acting projects. Nicole has an immense body of work behind her, and there's no better way to be
reminded of her talent and how much we love her than immersing ourselves and taking an in depth look at those works.
For the months of December 2012/January 2013 , we're placing our spotlight on Cold Mountain! Maybe it's because
the film was promoted and released in December, or because of the stunning snowy shots featured throughout the movie,
but I've always felt Cold Mountain was a very wintery, almost Christmas-y film. So 9 years after its theatrical
release in 2003, we are looking back at the movie - a movie that, to me, doesn't get much more epic and romantic. Its
themes of faith, hope and belief are such important topics, particularly at this time of year with the start of a new
Ada: "If you are fighting, stop fighting. If you are marching, stop marching. Come back to me. Come
back to me is my request."
NB: Plot description may contain spoilers!
It is the early 1860's and the Civil War is raging across America. Ada Monroe and her father Reverend Monroe, a minister,
have moved from the city to the small rural village of Cold Mountain to escape the war. They are welcomed to the village
by the locals, and as Ada takes lemonade to the men building the new church, she meets Inman, a local young man. There is
an instant connection between the two, but it's limited, as Ada has no experience with men and Inman is not good with
words. They come across each other again, as Ada takes him drinks whilst he is working, and he helps her catch a dove in
the church once it is built. But just as their relationship is developing, the men of Cold Mountain are called to join the
war. Ada and Inman swap tin photos, and share a passionate kiss before he heads off to war.
As Inman suffers through the perils of war, lying in a hospital having been shot in the neck, Ada and her father feel the
effects of the war on their life back at home too.
A year after Inman leaves, Ada's father dies, leaving her to take care of their ailing Black Cove farm. Ada is writing to
Inman, and disillusioned with the war and inspired by her latest letter pleading him to return to her, Inman leaves the
hospital to make the treachurous journey back to Cold Mountain. Because he has deserted the war, he knows he has to be extra
careful. Teague, a jealous Homeguard officer whose family used to own the Monroe's land, is always close by to remind Ada
that Inman is not coming back and that she is now by herself. The locals take pity on her and offer her free food, and
the gentle and kind Sally encourages Ada to have meals at their house. Ada becomes tired of having to depend on others,
but lacks the skills to take care of herself. She is further shaken when Sally and her husband Esco show her their
tradition of seeing into the future by looking up at mirror whilst leaning over a well - Ada sees a lone black figure
walking towards her through the snow, surrounded by blackbirds. Is it Inman?
Sitting outside on her porch one day, with only the dreaded rooster for company, Ada is startled by an unrecognisable
voice addressing her from her garden. Ada looks up to see a scruffy young woman, who introduces herself as Ruby Thewes.
She says that Sally told her Ada needed help, and as much as Ada hesitates, Ruby won't take no for answer. She deals
with the rooster, and soon has Ada up at 5am in the morning to tend to the cows. Ruby is determined to get the land back
in shape, and takes Ada around it to sort out what needs to be done. Ada is exhausted by all this work, and is still
missing Inman, continuing to write him letters in the hope that something will get to him. Ada soon becomes more confident,
and she and Ruby get the land and house back in shape. Meanwhile, Inman encounters an adulterous preacher, a whorehouse,
and the dreaded Home Guard, further reminding him to be wary of who he trusts.
The horrors of the effects of war on those left at home are brought back to Ada and Ruby when they discover Sally tied up
and Esco and their sons murdered by Teague and his home guard officers. Ada and Ruby take Sally into their home and care
for her, although she is left unable to speak. Desperate for food and shelter, Inman stumbles across a small house owned
by a young widow with a sick baby. She allows him in and feeds him, while he offers her comfort whilst maintaining his
loyalty to Ada. He is shown the effects of the war on those left behind by their loved ones, and it is harrowing to him.
Back at Cold Mountain, Ada's loyalty to Ruby is shown when Ruby's formerly drunk, neglectful father Stobrod Thewes turns
up, and Ada backs Ruby up when she tells him to leave. Ruby warms to him, though, and Ada, Ruby and Sally spend Christmas
with him and his two friends, Pangle and Georgia. But the happiness does not last long, as the next day the women are
informed by a panicked Georgia that Pangle and Stobrod have been murdered by Teague. Distraught, they trek up the mountain
to recover the bodies, only to discover that Stobrod is still alive. They take him to a nearby abandoned Cherokee hut, to
allow them some rest before going back down to the farm.
Whilst out collecting wood for the fire, Ada sees a lone figure in the distance walking towards her. She raises her gun
and tells the person to turn around and go back from where they came from. Disappointed, Inman turns his back and starts
to walk off, until Ada realises it is him and runs to him to embrace. She takes him back to their campsite, introducing
him to an unfriendly - jealous - Ruby. After Ruby goes to bed, Ada and Inman contemplate their few moments together, and
how the thought of the other kept them going. They move into a hut, and Ada jokes that there is some religion where if you
say 'I marry you' three times it makes you man and wife. Without hesitance, Inman says the words three times, with Ada
following, and they proceed to consumate their marriage.
The next morning, they all travel back down the mountain, where Inman will join Ad and Ruby living at Black Cove Farm.
But they meet Teague and his men again, and while Ada tells him that "there will be a reckoning", Teague believes he is
still above the law....
Ada: "I can talk about farming in Latin. I can read French. I can lace up a corset, god knows. I can
name the principal rivers in Europe, just don't ask me to name one stream in this county! I can embroider but I can't
darn! I can arrange cut flowers but I can't grow them! If a thing has a function, if I might do something with it, then
it wasn't considered suitable!"
Ada Monroe is what the residents of Cold Mountain consider to be a "true Southern belle", although when she arrives in
Cold Mountain she says she has always felt "so shy of how I looked, so out of place". But she was happy to escape from "a
world of slaves and corsets and cotton" in Charleston. She is awkward and doesn't know how to behave around Inman. She
shows willingness to take advantage of the looks people say she has when she gets Inman to plough Sally's field, though.
Ada undergoes a huge transformation throughout the film, forced upon her by circumstance. Writer/director Anthony Minghella
describes Ada as "bred for a life of culture," but then has to "acclimatise to her environment, she has to become wise about
nature," and everything that is unknown to her. Minghella adds that while Ada's journey is only a few inches rather than
across the country, it may be more significant than Inman's, and he describes it as "so profound". Indeed, Ada's journey
is much more internal, rather than Inman's literal, physically demanding journey, and this provides a nice contrast in
Nicole has openly said that she felt very close to Ada as a person, saying that Ada was the character that came closest to
reflecting who she was as a person - "There's so much of me in Ada", she told, adding that "the fact that she'll wait four
years for someone to come back to her, the way her faith and all those things keep her hanging on. The character was just
in me. I opened myself to her, and I went, 'Oh, this is close to home'." Nicole found similarities between hers and Ada's
upbringings, saying that they were both focussed on the "delicacies" of life, rather than "practicalities", and raised on
books, music and languages.
Nicole appreciates that Ada is a strong female character, and enjoyed showing Ada's growth, saying "It's such a wonderful
female role, the arc she has where she goes from this Southern belle who's never been able to take care of herself who
suddenly, through the circumstances, has to learn to survive". She describes her character as a mixture of "delicacy and
fragility, and strength and prickliness." Key to Ada's survival is the hope that Inman will return to her, but as her
friendship with Ruby develops she takes comfort and solace in that, too. The two are "polar opposites, and they grow to
teach each other and help each other", Nicole says, adding that Minghella describes Ada as air and Ruby as earth. She has
recently said that Ada and Satine are two of her favourite characters, because they are both so "deeply romantic".
Where to start with the Cold Mountain cast?! The cast list is full of well known and highly respected actors,
as well as a few young actors who broke through into Hollywood soon after the release of this film. Anthony Minghella
relished the opportunity to be able to ask such established actors to take small parts which meant they got to
work only a few weeks rather than months. Nicole calls the cast "extraordinary" and "passionate about putting
the story onto the screen".
Heading the cast alongside Nicole is Jude Law as Inman, and Renee Zellweger as Ruby. Jude Law is one of Britain's most
popular and in-demand actors, and has amassed almost 50 credits in his filmography. Some of his more famous credits
include Closer, Alfie, A.I. Artificial Intelligence , The Talented Mr. Ripley, and more
recently the Guy Ritchie versions of Sherlock Holmes. Cold Mountain was the start of Law's busiest period,
as he had a total of 6 films released in 2004. He worked with Cold Mountain director Anthony Minghella a total
of 3 times, and said his previous experience of working with him allowed them a better understanding of how they each
worked, making filming easier. Nicole said it was a "delight" making a romance with Jude, and that she felt they got to
"know each other in a very deep way" because of the intensity of their relationship on screen. She told Elle magazine in 2003
that he is the "most open spirit, giving, Jude glows".
American actress Renee Zellweger plays Ruby, and went on to win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 2004 for this
performance. Zellweger, perhaps best known for her charming performances in the Bridget Jones movies, is also
recognised for her work in Down With Love (with Nicole's Moulin Rouge co-star Ewan McGregor),
Jerry Maguire (with Nicole's ex-husband Tom Cruise), and Chicago. Nicole and Renee became good friends
during the filming of this movie, spending hours together each day talking about their lives and careers. Renee says that
they became friends immediately, and that the first thing she noticed about Nicole was her giggle! Speaking of giggling,
the two were seen giggling together on the front row on Oscars night in 2004. Nicole says she was "in awe" of Renee's
performance in this film, adding that Zellweger "completely transformed herself into the gruff, backwoods Ruby, and yet
manages to give her an inner soulfulness and vulnerability. She embodied Ruby with every fiber of her being." Funnily
enough, Renee had lost out on Oscar the year before to Nicole, but admits that she didn't feel it was a loss, and that
the Oscar was "a long time coming" for Nicole.
A key supporting player in the film is Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the highly acclaimed Academy Award winning character actor,
best known for roles in Almost Famous, Doubt, Capote and most recently The Master. In his
varied career of almost 60 films, he has worked with several of Nicole's co-stars including Joaquin Phoenix, Julianne Moore,
Meryl Streep, Kate Hudson, Catherine Keener and George Clooney. He had worked with Jude Law and Anthony Minghella previously
in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Another familiar face is Natalie Portman, most recently seen in Black Swan
which won her an Oscar - and kept Nicole from another one, for Rabbit Hole. Often considered one of the best
actresses of her generation, Natalie has been working since her teens. She has worked with Phillip Seymour Hoffman twice,
and Jude Law three times, most notably in Closer. She reportedly came dressed as Dorothy from the Wizard Of Oz
to her first day of filming for Cold Mountain because it was Halloween and she thought everyone was dressing up -
she was, in fact, the only one! Natalie served on the jury at the 2011 Gotham Independent Film Awards alongside Nicole and
Jodie Foster, and she and Nicole took part in several awards season events and photoshoots together in 2011, for their
respective films (Black Swan and Rabbit Hole). Natalie also spoke during Nicole's American Cinematheque
Tribute in 2003.
With its illustrious cast we could talk about the careers of other Cold Mountain actors for pages, but instead,
here's a quick rundown of those famous faces you may have recognised throughout the film. American multi-talent
Kathy Baker played Ada's kindly neighbour Sally; Donald Sutherland is keeping busy with several new films in the works,
and played Ada's father Reverend Monroe in this movie; British tough-guy actor Ray Winstone played the power hungry
Home Guard officer Teague, with Charlie Hunnam as Bosie, one of his men. Musician Jack White played Ruby's love interest
Georgia; Giovanni Ribisi was Junior, one of the people Inman encountered on his journey home; Eileen Atkins was Maddy,
who came across Inman during his journey and took care of him with natural remedies; Brendan Gleeson played Ruby's no-good
father Stobrod Thewes. Other names you may particularly know of include Ethan Suplee, Jena Malone, Taryn Manning, Cillian
Murphyand, and Emily Deschanel.
Casting and Filming
Nicole Kidman: "Part of the beauty of pulling together a group of people that are, as a group, saying
'we're really going to aim high', and aiming high is something that means you can fail, but it's so much more fun and
so much more satisfying, and you need a director who sets that bar very very high."
Nicole was attracted to this project because of her admiration for both the director, Anthony Minghella, and the novel
itself, which she describes as "glorious". Knowing Nicole's fascination with love, you can also see how that aspect of
the story appealed to her! She said that "as a little girl, you always want to make an epic love story," and that actually
getting to make one like this was a "lovely feeling" because of the hope in it. Nicole said whilst making the film that
she thought roles came in threes - the three at the time were Virginia, Faunia and Ada - and that "to play Ada at the
end of all this is so lovely, because it’s about hope, it’s about belief, it’s about people coming out for each other
in times of crisis." She felt working on a project like this that was centered around love was something she needed at the
time, saying she didn't realise how much she needed it until she started.
Nicole also found the relationship between the two woman to be a particular draw for her in the novel and film, saying
"I love the female friendship that Renée and I get to play on-screen. It's rare that you get two wonderfully rich female
roles in the same film. We really get to show a female friendship that I think is unusual and very real and very rich."
She also appreciated how "loyal and true to each other" Ada and Ruby were, and thought that this was a positive thing
to put on screen to show young girls about female friendship - something which made her very proud of the film.
Both Minghella and his producers, including Sydney Pollack, emphasised the importance of casting the three leads right.
Offers were sent to Jude Law, Nicole and Renee Zellweger on the same day, with Minghella explaining that he couldn't
make an offer to any of them til he knew who the others were. The three leads needed to compliment each other and fit
together just right, producer Ron Yerxa told. "If you’re making a film like Cold Mountain and setting out on a tough
journey, you need to pick your companions very carefully," Minghella had said. Not only did he attract a high calibre
cast, but Minghella also managed to assemble musical greats to put together the stirring soundtrack, including Gabriel
Yared, T-Bone Burnett, Sting, Elvis Costello and Alison Krauss, as well as Jack White from The White Stripes, who both
acted in and wrote music for the film.
On a film of this scale, filming would take a long time, and it lasted from July to December 2002 - a total of 117 days.
Minghella and his team spent a long time scouting locations to shoot, and eventually decided upon Romania because it best
resembled America at the time the film was set. Nicole was initially skeptical about this choice, but was soon convinced,
and said that Romania "delivered" exactly what the needed. The conditions were tough though, with extremely cold
temperatures and weather conditions. Not only that, but there were bears around, too! "There were bears walking down
the street, and wild dogs at night barking," she recalls. Nicole showed off her bruises from filming to Elle magazine
in 2002, saying they were from the fence building scene, and that none of the men could lift the huge logs they used in it.
She said that these tough conditions made it hard to act at times, but she appreciated being far up in the mountain because
it meant she was in a little bubble and could really connect with the character, without distractions of the modern world.
Nicole says this adversity had its benefits though, saying that "there’s something about smooth-sailing that wouldn’t
sit right," when making this film, given what it's about. "Emotionally it was very difficult to endure, which was
appropriate, considering the story was about endurance," she told, adding that it was the "most painful, and most joyful"
shoot of her career. "When you have to overcome adversity ... if you can get through it and it doesn't destroy you, then
something beautiful can be captured" ... and arguably it was, with stunning scenery seen in the film.
Much press attention was paid to the so-called steamy love scene between Ada and Inman, but Nicole played it down, saying "It's
hard when you talk about something like that because you don't want to sensationalise something like that because
somehow it takes away from the importance of the movie. I hope that the scene is more than a steamy scene but is more
a scene that really depicts love."
The film intended to show both the horrors of the war for those fighting it, as well as the struggles dealt with by
those left behind at home, and the relationship between people dealing with both of those sides.
Interestingly, Nicole said whilst promoting the movie that she could picture herself living the life we see Ada in at the
end of the movie in her real-life: "when I was making Cold Mountain, at the end of the movie I stand in this beautiful
countryside with this whole farm around me, and this gorgeous old house with those wraparound verandas. And I remember
standing there thinking, this is what I would love to grow old with". Seems she may have got what she wished for!
We can't write this page without a special mention to its writer and director, Anthony Minghella. Nicole and Anthony
became close whilst filming this movie, and they obviously had a very special impact on each other. Nicole described him as
a "true artist" and a "poet", and that he was one of her "closest spiritual friends". She felt that he "took such great care"
of her during filming, because she was still feeling fragile after her divorce. Minghella spoke of his admiration of
Nicole's acting talents on set, saying "She has this uncanny ability to be completely suffused with the energy of the
scene. You can almost identify which scene you’re about to shoot just by looking at her face when she arrives on the set."
He apparently said that he would "lie down on the ground" to work with her again, and they did, sort of - he co-wrote
Nine, and was an executive producer for The Interpreter, but they never got the chance to work together as
director and actor again. Minghella died in 2008. Nicole says that she thinks of him often and holds him very close to her
heart. She can't watch Cold Mountain because his passing is still too painful to her. My favourite quote about Nicole
comes from Minghella:
"She is that rare thing: a wonderful actress, a wonderful soul possessed of that skinlessness that the camera is greedy
for, which allows us to glimpse all of her frailties, her sorrows, her joys, her good heart. She manages all of those
things with grace, style and an astonishing work ethic."
Release & Reception
Cold Mountain was released on Christmas Day in America, back in 2003. It was released soon after in the UK and
Australia, and then followed worldwide throughout January and February of 2004. The film was produced by the Weinstein
Company, and so had a big promotional tour for the release of the film and awards season. It was started with a premiere
in Los Angeles, followed by a press conference there, then premieres in New York, London and Los Angeles. A special
event titled Words and Music of Cold Mountain was also held to promote the film, and it consisted of the actors from the
film reading passages from the book, live music from the film, and a discussion with Minghella. Nicole showed off some
edgy fashion during the promotion, wearing a loose fitting white trouser suit ensemble by Ungaro at the Los Angeles
premiere, a smart high collar blue and white Chanel skirt suit at the New York premiere, a similar gold and white high
collar outfit by Chanel in London, and then a shimmery green dress to finish the premieres in Sydney. After her hugely
successful year there was still a big interest in Nicole, and at the LA premiere she admitted that she tries "to be
calmer but it's hard sometimes, you feel awkward," about the photographers yelling her name.
As well as the premiere events, Nicole also appeared on several talk shows to promote her movie, including Jay Leno, Good
Morning America, 20/20, The Early Show and The View. Over the months of December 2003 to February 2004, Nic could be
seen on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, W, Good Housekeeping, Marie Claire and French Elle magazines. With it's high
profile cast, and ambitious and high profile producers, Cold Mountain was firmly in the spotlight and promoted
Reviews for the film were mixed, with many criticisms being flung at Nicole's performance as Ada - Too young. Too cold.
Too clean (?!). Famed movie critic Roger Ebert
wrote that there is "so much to enjoy about Cold Mountain that I can praise it for its parts, even though it lacks a whole"
and that "you admire the artistry and the care" put into making it. The Hollywood Reporter
called it an "intimate epic" although says Nicole is "allowed to look entirely too glamorous for the period and her
character's dire situation, but she does capture the yearning and hopes" of Ada. Richard Corliss of Time listed the movie in
his Top 10 of 2003,
and called it a "grand and poignant movie epic", "a rare blend of purity and maturity", and "the year's most rapturous
love story" in his review of the film. Peter Travers
also appreciated the film, describing it as "one stunner of a movie" adding that Kidman "lights up the screen". Will Lawrence
of Empire says the film is
a "terrific five-hanky drama with top-flight technical work, horrifically spectacular action, subtle introspection, rich
characters and a love story to die for". It's a film that "burns in the memory weeks after you see it", said Mike Clark of
Cold Mountain took a total of $173,013,509 worldwide at the box office, $95m of which was from the US alone. It opened
at #3 on the US box office chart, showing at just over 2,000 screens, and earning $14m. The film did well in the UK, taking
a total of $16m, but fared less well in Nicole's home country of Australia, with $4.7m earnings there. It also did well
in France, Germany, Spain and Japan.
We've already mentioned the high profile producers of the Weinstein Company being behind this film, and they pushed for
the film during awards season, with the cast attending several events during the season, and trade publications being
plastered with 'For Your Consideration' adverts. It scored a whopping 13 nominations at the BAFTAs, 3 at the
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, 8 at the Golden Globe Awards, and even 3 at the Grammys. Nicole herself was
nominated at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards, the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards, the
Empire Awards, the Golden Globes, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards, and the London Critics Circle Film Awards.
It was expected to score big at the Oscars, but 'only' gained 7 nominations, for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best
Editing, Best Cinematogaphy, Best Music (Original Score) and two for Best Music (Original Song). It missed out on the much
expected Best Picture and Best Actress. The press ran stories on several potential reasons for the snub, including Nicole
looking too glamorous in the film, the fact that it was shot in Romania and not America, and it being released too late
in awards season. Still, the cast attended the big event - Nicole looking glamorous (appropriately, this time it seems!)
in a pale blue Chanel gown - and watched Renee walk away with the gold man for Best Supporting Actress.
Jess - Cold Mountain is a sweeping and epic film that is filled with romance and hope. Through the
performances of Nicole and Jude you can really feel the yearning and desire of these characters, which made me feel
so invested in their journeys, even if the passion didn't feel as strong when they were actually together as when they
are apart. Nicole gives a quiet, understated performance as Ada, and Jude Law is almost unrecognisable as Inman and gave
possibly my favourite performance in the film. The story is full of twists and turns, some of which you see coming while
others keep you on the edge on your seat, but either way are handled in a manner so that the film keeps flowing and moving
along at a good pace. All credit must go to Anthony Minghella who has crafted a beautiful, touching, sensitive and romantic
story of courage and hope. It's hard to put into words my love for this film, and 9 years after its release, on the rare
occassion when I am brave enough to watch it, it moves me just as much as it did the first time I saw it.
Carla - Star performances from its entire cast. Cold Mountain is a film full of beauty and since the first
time I saw it I had to fell in love with it. I even love the period in which is set. It doesn't only show a beautiful love
story but also female companionship. Spectacular action, subtle introspection, rich characters and a love story to
die for, this movie is udoubtedly amongst my favourites. It is a strong journey worth taking if you're prepared for
it, it's a very powerful film, absolutely love it! 5/5
Alyssa - Highly regarded as a disappointing follow-up to Nicole Kidman's Oscar win, Cold Mountain still finds
an audience. Anyone who knows anything about movies knows that when Anthony Minghella wanted to turn a book into film,
he damn well knew how to. Though the film plays too much on it's superstar cast, the salvaging performance comes not
from the shining leading lady, but from the unlikely Renee Zellweger who was the ONLY one who succeeded in her adaptation.
A classic, bittersweet, historical epic, this film unfortunately leaves it's viewers torn - not in the sense of being
emotionally testing, but by the fact that it does not know whether it's a war film or a romantic time piece. It would
have been stronger had it chosen.
Watch ... and then re-watch ... your favourite scenes, plus find some DVD extras and interviews.
View the Movie Of The Month Archives
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