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Special Features » Movie Of The Month

As part of a new 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.

So for the month of April, and for our very first Movie Of The Month, I've chosen to feature Practical Magic because it was the first Nicole movie I ever saw and the movie that brought her to my attention. It's also the movie that made many others fans of Nicole, and is a real, timeless fan-favourite.



The Story

Sally: "I feel like I'm never gonna see you again."
Gilly: "Of course you're gonna see me again, we're gonna grow old together! It's gonna be you and me!"


Practical Magic is the story of two sisters - Sally and Gillian Owens - who are born into a family of witches. One of their female ancestors angered the locals of her community, and they attempted to hang her for witchcraft but thanks to her witchcraft abilities she survived, and placed a curse upon any man that fell in love with an Owens women. Living with their aunts as children, Sally and Gilly endured the taunts of other local children, and were seen as outsiders because of their unfortunate gift of magic.

As she grows up, Gilly becomes sick of being told what to do by the Aunts, and runs away with a man she thinks she's in love with. As Gilly leaves over the balcony at night, she and Sally cast a spell that will bind them together forever. Without her sister, Sally tries to live a normal life, and marries local man Michael, and has two kids with him. Gilly, meanwhile, is living it up with parties by the pool and lots of drink, having the time of her life with her current man, Eastern European Jimmy Angelov. But when the curse kills Michael, Sally is heartbroken. Through their strong bond as sisters, Gilly feels her pain, and travels back to comfort her sister.

Gilly and Sally spend days talking, until Gilly feels her work is done, and she leaves. Soon after, Sally gets a call from Gilly asking her to come to pick her up, as she is scared of Jimmy. As Sally and Gilly are about to drive off together, Jimmy appears in the back of the car, and he tells them to drive.

Gilly and Sally concoct a plan to drug him with a herbal remedy, but when this does not work, Sally ends up bashing his head against a car seat til he passes out. Scared because they think they killed him, back at the Aunts house they try to resurrect him, only for him to come back and attack Gilly again leading Sally to kill him again with a saucepan. Finally leaving him dead, they bury him under the roses in the garden. The next day, the Aunts and Sally's two daughters are delighted to see Gilly. The local residents aren't so pleased, and they dissaprove of Gilly's seductive appearance.

The Aunts and Gilly and Sally let loose and enjoy midnight margheritas until the sisters realise that Jimmy's presence is still around. When Antonia, one of Sally's daughters, sees him standing under the roses Sally violently chops them all down. But the trouble is not over, as a police officer soon appears asking questions about Jimmy's disappearance. Cool and calm, Gilly tells him they haven't seen him. Gary comes for breakfast one day, and in an attempt to get rid of him, Gilly puts together a syrup potion to send him away. Whilst doing so, she bonds with her niece Kylie, telling her about what love feels like.

But Sally's conscious, and growing feelings for Gary the police officer, develop and become too much for her, and she eventually confesses to him what happened. But as Sally returns to the house she senses something is wrong, and finds Gilly in the attic, possessed by Jimmy. She must later gather as many women from their town as possible to help cast a spell to banish Jimmy from Gilly for good. The spell is a success.

With the Jimmy Angelov case closed, Gary leaves ... although returns soon after as he realises his love for Sally. The couple embrace as Gilly and the Aunts look on. The film ends with the Owens women in full witch gear (black cloacks and hats, and broomsticks) magically floating off the roof of their house, watched by an audience of Gary and the local townspeople.


The title, producer Denise DiNovi says, is "about how magic is present in everyday life and every moment if we're just aware of it."

The Character

"Gillian is the wild one," Nicole says, "She chooses to leave home because the people there ridicule her and her sister for being different. I think that is one of the more important themes that Alice looks at in her book -- that you should embrace your eccentricity and individuality rather than attempt to conform to what people expect you to be." Gillian - or Gillybean as her sister calls her - has always been the fearless one of the two, from when they were kids and they watched their Aunts perform spells when they weren't supposed to. When she grew up, her need for independence caused her to run away from home to live a carefree life of her own. But beneath the wild exterior, Gilly is deeply loyal to her sister, with whom she shares a strong bond - "There can be that strange connection where you sense something's wrong with sombody from a thousand miles away or across the other side of the world," Nicole explains.

The Cast

"Sometimes you work with people that you wouldn't want to hang out with off the set. Sandy and I genuinely enjoyed each other."

Nicole's main co-star in Practical Magic is the actress everyone loves - Sandra Bullock. Sandra's career took off in the early 90's, after a star turn in action movie Speed. She's gone on to become one of the most high profile, profitable and popular actresses of her generation, and career highlights include While You Were Sleeping, Miss Congeniality, Crash and her recent Academy Award winning film The Blind Side. Sandra was one of the first cast in Practical Magic, and had a hand in choosing Nicole to co-star. Sandra and Nicole have remained friends over the years, and have been seen saying 'hi' to each other at a few big events in recent years.

Nicole hit the nail on the head when talking about Goran Visnjic who played Jimmy, saying "Gillian has this thing where she loves big, gorgeous men, and that's what Goran is!". Director Griffin Dunne said Jimmy was originally a Texan red-neck, but after seeing Goran changed the part to an Eastern European. After Practical Magic, Goran scored his big break with a regular 10-season role in tv series ER.

Dianne Weist and Stockard Channing are two highly respected actresses with a steady body of work behind them. Stockard Channing is perhaps best known for role as Betty Rizzo in the classic Grease, and has recently been seen in Le Divorce (with Nicole's best friend Naomi Watts) and the TV series The West Wing. Dianne Weist will be familiar to fans for her roles in cult classics The Lost Boys and Edward Scissorhands, as well as Woody Allen's 1986 film Hannah and Her Sisters. Dianne will be re-united with Nicole in the upcoming Rabbit Hole. Director Griffin Dunne said Stockard and Dianne were chosen to play the Aunts - Jet and Frances - because they had the sensitivity and sweetness needed, but were also believeable as witches with an edge.

Playing Officer Gary Hallett was Aidan Quinn, who was a popular actor in the 90's and could be seen in Legends of the Fall, and Michael Collins. He was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for the HBO TV movie Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. Evan Rachel Wood (Kylie Owens) and Camilla Belle (young Sally Owens) are rising stars in Hollywood.


Casting and Filming

"It's fun working with a director that has a sense of the ridiculous and a sense of the macabre."
- Nicole Kidman on Griffin Dunne

Looking at the storyline of this movie - two sisters who would do anything to protect each other - it's not hard to see why Nicole wanted to take this part, knowing her close relationship with her own sister, Antonia. Nicole says that the female cast was a great appeal to her as she'd mainly worked with men up until that point in her career, "so the idea of working with Sandy on something like this, I thought 'wow that sounds fun, I wanna work with a girl!'", she said. Nicole was also drawn by the prospect of working with Stockard Channing, who she'd always wanted to work with. Nicole had seen her on stage "so many times" and thought she had an "amazing talent". Speaking about the pairing of her and Sandra, Nicole says their chemistry is "hard to analyze. I think it's because we have the same sense of humor. As long as I have that with someone then ultimately, everything else just falls into place." Desite having never met Nicole before production on Practical Magic started, Sandra Bullock thought Nicole seemed like the perfect person for this role - "Our energies are so opposite we needed what the other person had," she said, adding that they had "a really strong affection for one another and I don't know where that came from. There's a connection and it produced the chemistry we needed to play sisters.

Griffin Dunne acknowledged that Sandra and Nicole look nothing alike, but points out that this is often the case with witch sisters. It was their relationship and the compatability between their personalities that made them ideal to be cast as sisters, he explains - Sandra and Nicole complement each other very well. They play off each other even though they have very different energies. They want to get across, as I do, not just the tender warm aspects of families, but the stuff we are more familiar with -- the fighting, the backbiting, the conflicts, the insecurities and the frailties. They are both fearless actresses who are willing to try anything." To put it simply, "they just have this great chemistry!" he says. Nicole hadn't really been seen in comedies until this movie, and her fun, wild side was often overlooked by those in the industry. Griffin Dunne said Nicole was able to let loose on this movie, and show some of her own personality which echoed that of her character, Gillian, in some ways. He admitted that Nicole "is really funny! She's got a really fun, great, wild side - just like Gillian - and I thought I've never seen Nicole be able to do that in a movie. She dances and sings, and jumps around and acts incredibly silly, and also does the other thing that Nicole I think is very well known for, y'know, extraordinary depth."

Producer Denise DiNovi also marvelled at Nicole's unique abilities, and why she was the ideal Gillian - "Nicole is someone who can play extreme, complex characters and bring them to life in a way that they seem totally real and not fabrication. She is also very magnetic and compelling, which Gillian has to be."

Filming took place in Washington from February to May in 1998. Nicole says they had a great time filming and she thinks that shows in the final cut. When asked by an interviewer whether the four leading ladies were wild, Nicole confessed that they weren't, but they did have one drunken night - after filming the 'midnight margherita' scene, in which they actually drank water, the four women went out and drank a lot of tequila shots!


Release & Reception

Reviews were not strong, with most agreeing that it was a cute movie, but aimless and nothing special. Criticism was levelled at the lightweight magic used. Ultimately, it seemed that the leading ladies were the saviours of this film for the critics. CNN said "Take two very high-profile actresses - in this case Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman - put them in a pot with a plot about witches, stir in a little romance, add a dramatic on-the-road "Thelma & Louise"-type twist, throw in a little pinch of "The Exorcist," and mix well with a few old episodes of "Bewitched" and you have "Practical Magic. There are moments that work, and spending a couple of hours with Bullock and Kidman is always a pleasure."

The fans didn't agree though, and upon it's release in the US on October 16th 1998, it went straight to #1 at the box office, taking $13m during its opening weekend. It was released internationally throughout the following few months, and took $1m on it's opening weekend in the UK in January 1999.

Nicole did limited promotion for this film, at the time of release she was starring in The Blue Room in London. She did a few interviews for it, but did not attend the premiere or press conference.

Fans' Thoughts

Carla - Light and easy, suspenseful in parts, funny and charming. This movie is super cute and Nicole plays the character of Gillian perfectly plus she has a bonus, I just adore her red hair and her bangs. I think this movie makes us realise how important family is and how whatever happens, sisters are always there for each other. For me, it has a very sweet message and the commitment Gillian and Sally had was more than beautiful with the theme of love spinning around it at all times.

Stella - Funny, sweet witch stories are not too common. You can cuddle up on your couch, relax and have a great time, without being sad afterwards or thinking too much about it. The characters of nicole and sandra are really sweet and you can relate to them. The story has an important and sweet message - it doesn't matter if you're different, just be yourself.

Melanie - The story was good, which usually is not the case in cute movies like this one. Nicole and Sandra worked really well with each other and kept the “magic“ alive all the way to the end.

Alyssa - The epitome of a chick flick - romance, strife, a little bit of magic, and well...chicks


Downloads

Watch (and then re-watch!) your favourite scenes, plus find some DVD extras and interviews.

Featurette - Casting The Spell
Featurette - Casting The Spell
9:27 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)
Featurette - Making Magic
Featurette - Making Magic
5:58 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)


Clip - Our Blood
Clip - Our Blood
1:22 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)
Clip - Gilly Comes Back
Clip - Gilly Comes Back
3:55 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)


Clip - Bringing Him Back
Clip - Bringing Him Back
4:54 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)
Clip - Hang Onto Your Husbands!
Clip - Hang Onto Your Husbands!
1:26 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)


Clip - Midnight Margaritas!
Clip - Midnight Margaritas!
4:59 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)
Clip - Do You Ever Put Your Arms Out And Spin
Clip - Do You Ever...
2:28 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)


TV Spot
TV Spot
0:36 mins | MB | Site Exclusive
DOWNLOAD (downloaded times)




 

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Welcome to Nicole's Magic, a fansite for the spectacular spectacular Academy Award winning Australian actress Nicole Kidman. Nicole is one of the most sought-after actresses of her generation, and is known for her roles in Moulin Rouge, The Hours and To Die For, and has recently been seen in the highly acclaimed Rabbit Hole, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

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