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HOLLYWOOD NOTES: March 2002


TOM AND NICOLE TOIL ON
Kidman and Cruise, while no longer Mr and Mrs, are still Hollywood favourites, both getting on with being busy in movies, doing what they do best, reports Nick Roddick. And Nicoleís latest film seems certain for Cannes this May.


Far be it from me to suggest that being young, free and single (again) has given a boost to her career, but Nicole Kidman certainly seems to have given it some wellie since she split from Thomas Mapother IV. She has an Oscar nomination - her first (To Die For brought her a Golden Globe, plus awards from film critics in Boston and London and also a BAFTA nomination - but no Oscar nod); and, if she hadnít been nominated for Moulin Rouge, she may well have been it for The Others. She has had a No 1 record in the UK, singing ĎSomething Stupidí with occasional escort Robbie Williams. And, to judge by the roles she has accepted in the past couple months, she must be positively fighting off the movie offers.

Of course, everyone is allowed a lapse from the limelight, and Birthday Girl - from British playwright-turned-movie director Jez Butterworth - could well be that. It was filmed well before Moulin Rouge and The Others - in the spring of 1999, to be precise - for Miramaxís short-lived British production arm, HAL Films. It then sat on the shelf for a couple of years before getting a very low-key release in the depths of February. But itís all uphill from there. Having played alongside Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Claire Danes and Toni Collette in Stephen Daldryís The Hours (a near-certainty for Cannes), Kidman is about to start shooting the new Lars von Trier movie, Dogville, scotching rumours last summer that she had pulled out of it. She goes straight from that to starring opposite Anthony Hopkins in Robert Bentonís movie adaptation of Philip Rothís The Human Stain, in which she plays a withdrawn young woman working as a cleaner who is sexually drawn to Hopkinsí much older college professor.

After that, her next potential role could hardly be more different: that of the 12th-century Eleanor (aka Aliťnor) of Acquitaine in Court and Spark, an original screenplay which is being produced by Kidmanís manager, Alan Howard. Eleanor brought off the not inconsiderable achievement of being first Queen of France, then Queen of England, which she managed by getting the Pope to annul her marriage to Louis VII so that she could wed Henri Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy, who subsequently became Henry II of England. Apparently being Queen of England was more fulfilling than being Queen of France.
Also on Kidmanís to-do list is Jane Campionís upcoming film, In the Cut, based on an erotic thriller by Susanna Moore, which she will executive produce (they apparently started talking about it while Campion was directing Kidman in Portrait of a Lady). The film, which is set to start shooting in New York in July, will star Meg Ryan as a writing teacher with an adventurous after-hours life who gets sexually involved with a detective investigating a series of local murders. The latter role has yet to be cast.

One thing it doesnít look like Kidman will be doing, however, is the comedy (mentioned in a previous Hollywood Notes) in which Jim Carrey would have played a widower whose attempts to start a new relationship are thwarted by the ghost of his ex-wife (Kidman). That film - which still didnít have a title but was supposed to start this month (March) - was shelved in mid-January by Universal. It may still happen, though, since both Kidman and Carrey are believed to be very keen on the script by Gary Ross, who wrote Big and directed Pleasantville.

SPIELBERGíS GHOST

And what of Mr Cruise? Well, heís been pencilled in as the lead of Paramountís The Bridge, about a guy trying to come to terms with his life after he is fired. And heís just finished one of those projects Steven Spielberg toys with for years before finally making - a list which, incidentally, no longer includes directing Memoirs of a Geisha. Thatís something he started toying with at the end of 1998, right after the book came out, but finally decided in February that he would merely produce the film.
Before The Bridge, however, will come the lead role in Ed Zwick's The Last Samurai, in which Tom Cruise will play an American who is hired by the Japanese Emperor in the 19th century to train modern soldiers to replace the samurai warriors.†

And the movie he has just finished with Spielberg is Minority Report, which first surfaced in the spring of 1999. Based on the novel by Philip K Dick (best known to moviegoers for writing the stories on which Blade Runner and Total Recall were based), itís about a cop in some future society where crime prevention has become just what it says it is: his job is to arrest criminals before they commit the crime. The film, which also stars Colin Farrell, Max von Sydow and Samantha Morton, is due to be released in the US by Fox on June 21.

Warner Bros, meanwhile, has acquired the rights to yet another Dick project, A Scanner Darkly, a reportedly semi-autobiographical tale about a narcotics officer whose addiction to what he is supposed to be controlling creates a paranoid alter ego called Fred. After a while, he stops being able to tell who he is. Then in January, Cruise and Spielberg announced a new project called Ghost Soldiers, which takes the latter back to World War II after a couple of sci-fi outings. It is about the US troops captured by the Japanese on Bataan, who went on an enforced Ďdeath marchí before spending three years as prisoners of war. The film, which will link Universal, DreamWorks and the starís own Cruise Wagner Productions is, in the best current Hollywood tradition, one of three major movies scheduled to deal with Bataan. The other two are at Miramax (with Benjamin Bratt as star), and Columbia, where David Fincher is reportedly in line to direct a screenplay by William Nicholson.

Published March 14, 2002

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Tom and Nicole at the Golden Globes, 2001


Nicole Kidman


Tom Cruise in Minority Report







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