KIDMAN, NICOLE: MOULIN ROUGE
BEST TIMES, WORST TIMES: NICOLE
On the eve of her trip to the Cannes Film Festival and then on to Sydney for the
Australian premiere of Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman had a candid chat to Jenny
Cooney Carrillo about life after Tom and the movie her director Baz Luhrmann
describes as her shining light. ďItís the best and worst time in my life
coming together,Ē she says.
While much has been made about the personal dramas facing Nicole Kidman
since her split with Tom Cruise earlier this year, the talented actress is keen
to shift the focus back to her work. With the world premiere of Moulin Rouge at
the prestigious Cannes Film Festival on opening night, the 33-year-old
Australian actress can revel in triumph instead of tragedy - unlike her
character in the dazzling tragic-comedy whose fate is revealed in the opening
moments of the film. Kidman plays famous courtesan Satine, a performer at the
Moulin Rouge in Paris, circa 1900. Nicole sings and dances in the film which
co-stars Ewan McGregor as Christian, a writer who is introduced to the decadent
lifestyle of the times where anything goes - except falling in love.
How do you feel about facing the media after everything youíve been through
My hands are shaking and Iím nervous. Iíve always been a very
cards-on-the-table person and Iím used to being able to talk about all parts
of my life very openly and freely, but I suppose it is about ĎThe Show Must Go
Oní, and itís about being professional and supporting Baz and the film. And
Iím glad itís a film Iím excited about. Iím excited to go to Cannes and
sit and talk about this film but itís strange because itís the best and
worst time in my life coming together.
Moulin Rouge is a great love story. What is your attitude to love these days?
Iím so glad because Iíve never made a love story before and Iíve made
one that Iím really proud of. The message of the film is that no matter what
your experience is, no matter what your past, no matter what goes on in your
life, there is always the hope of falling in love if you stay open to that. Iím
still a romantic and a great believer, I suppose, in destiny and that there is a
soul mate out there for every one of us. Iím determined to keep believing. I
love the message of the film, which is that it is better to have loved and lost
than never to have loved at all.
What is your own relationship to music?
When I was 17 I was in a band in Australia, on weekends, and we didnít do
so well! My mother started me singing when I was little, just around the piano
with carols and hymns and stuff, and sheíd say, I wish youíd do a musical.
So this is the first time Iíve ever sung on film and singing in front of
people is far harder than acting in front of people. Singing the love songs
helps though, because viscerally it is so immediate. I use music as an actor. In
my trailer I listen to songs to get in the right mood for a scene or sometimes Iíll
ask the director to play certain jazz or classical music depending on what is
right for the character. This was about using the music in the scene and singing
and acting. For this, I learned to read music and did scales and then threw it
out of the window because Baz said, Ďno, I want it to come from your heartí.
Were you a fan of musicals?
Baz made me watch all the great musicals, studying Rita Hayworth and Marilyn
and Cyd Charisse and Ginger and Marlene, and I have the utmost respect for them
all now. I used to love Katharine Hepburn but now although I still do, my hat
goes off to these other women who could sing and dance and act - they were
phenomenal. It also opened up a whole new door for me because before, my parents
liked musicals and I thought, Ďoh yeah, rightí but now Iíve watched a lot
and I appreciate the talent it takes to make a great musical. I love them now.
How did you balance working on a movie as time-consuming as Moulin Rouge with
being a mother?
As Baz says, when youíre an actor itís like being in a circus in a weird
way, particularly making Moulin Rouge. Weíd work weird hours so Iíd have the
kids out there all the time and all my family. I took it for granted, like it
was normal, and then my father was in the trailer once and said, Ďthis is
weirdí when he saw me in these glamorous costumes cooking tuna melt for my
kids! Thatís the thing about being a working mother though. Luckily I have two
kids who are very tolerant. They would love to come on the set because it was
such a spectacle for them and Isabella knows all the songs. Itíll be great for
them to look back in about ten years time and have those memories, I think.
How did you prepare for the physical challenge of the role?
I flew back a month early and weíd have dance lessons each day, Ewan and
me doing salsa or mambo, and then weíd go to our singing class and then our
two hours with Baz doing improv so it was like being at drama school! You have
to give Baz six months prior to shooting, where he will not let you work for
anyone else, and I was also determined to do my own dancing and trapeze stuff
because I didnít want anyone doing my stunts. At one point I was 70 feet up in
the air on a trapeze for two days singing to men in top hats below and that was
cool! But I called up Baz prior to starting and said, ĎI think you are going
to have to recast, youíve made a big mistake, there is no way my voice will be
ready so I can pull this offí. But he said, ĎI know you can do ití and if
he hadnít pushed me forward, I would have pulled out.
How difficult was it to keep going with two broken ribs and an injured knee?
I had the ribs and the knee happen at different times, thank God! They
waited for my ribs to heal but with my knee, I had to just keep shooting because
George Lucas was waiting, and that was tough. Star Wars was moving into our
studio so they were kicking us out. I felt like one of those athletes training
for the Olympics, knowing I would have to push through. It was like being a
Satine is a very sexy character. What did you make of her?
She is a high-class prostitute, ultimately. I love the arc of someone who
has lived a life but has never fallen in love. I think that is a very
interesting arc because with Ewanís character you have an idealist who has
never been in love and desperately wants to be and with her you have someone who
has seen it all and done it all and says no, I canít fall in love. I saw her
as very tragic, a kept woman in a gilded cage. Thereís something very
beautiful about playing that in a tragic love story. Of course, Iíd love to do
a love story in which I get to live but the classic arc of the woman who finally
gets to meet the person sheís waited for her whole life but sheís dying at
the same time, itís the classic combination and a great arc for an actress to
Whatís next after Cannes and Sydney?
Iím playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours, directed by Stephen Daldry and
starring Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore, shooting in London next month (June).
Iíve taken the last four months off to be with my kids and Iíd like to go
back to Sydney and spend time with my family and not think about work or
anything else other than taking care of myself. Iím interested in doing a film
with Lars Von Trier (Dancer in the Dark) that he wrote and that may happen later
this year or next year. The films that interest me are usually not the big
budget films. But I also know my priority is my children so that is the No. 1
thing for me.
How do you feel about playing Virginia Woolf?
Iíve been doing intense research on her and itís been enlightening
because she is one of the great writers of all time and the profundity with
which she manages to capture the pathos of life has been incredibly interesting
for me at this time. This was a woman who grappled with death and madness and
love, the big issues, and Iím very nervous to play her but I also feel right
now is such a wonderful time for me to play her because my emotions are so on
Published May 10, 2001
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