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Nicole Kidman Interview

Nicole Kidman portrays Satine, the Sparkling Diamond, star of the Moulin Rouge, the most famous courtesan of Paris, circa 1900. Nicole shares her behind the scenes stories, including her broken rib from a dance rehearsal with co-star Ewan McGregor and knee cap injury suffered from a fall on the set. Nicole also talks about the women entertainers she admires, and working with Baz Luhrmann, the director, co-writer, producer of "Moulin Rouge." Here are highlights from her recent press event in Hollywood:

Question: This seems like the kind of project that was either going to work or fall flat on its face. I was wondering what it was that made you decide to take the risk?

Nicole: I think it was that. The risk of it. I'm sort of drawn to things like that. I also have a great belief in Baz [Luhrmann] as a director. I've known him and I've known his work for many years. He sent me some flowers when I was doing this play backstage with a note saying, "I have this great character for you. She sings, she dances and then she dies."

That peaked my interest. Then I met with him and he didn't have a script but he had this book full of ideas, pictures, drawings of what he kind of wanted. The feel and atmosphere of the movie, and the story.

But he said, "the story isn't set in stone. Its going to evolve and change due to the work we will do prior. I will need a six month commitment prior to the actual shoot. That's my process, take it or leave it." And then he made me audition. [laughter]

Question: I talked to an actress a couple weeks ago who had eighty-two bruises from doing a fight scene for a movie and I know that you were injured during the filming of "Moulin Rouge." Can you talk about your injuries, they sounded much more severe?

Nicole: I'm embarassed by my injuries. It makes me out to be such a wimp. I broke my rib in the rehearsal process. Ewan McGregor is very proud to say that he broke it. And he said I'm allowed to say that.

Because we were doing the dance sequence where I have to jump in his arms and neither of us, particularly Ewan, is a trained dancer. [laughter]

And, it was just the way he caught me. It wasn't a full break, it was a small crack as they described it. But then they put me in a corset a little too soon and rebroke it. And that was the beginning of the film.

So then I got through the next six months fine. In the last two weeks, I fell down the stairs. We were actually doing the "Diamonds" number which is at the beginning of the film. We had three days to shoot it. We had to work 17 hours a day.

At about one in the morning, we were all really tired, and we had to get the shot. I said, 'Yeah, yeah we'll just do one more take." I replay that moment in my head. I was in these huge heels and I fell down the stairs and just tore the cartilage behind my kneecap.

But it is getting better. It's a really painful injury. It's actually a football injury, they say. So is the broken rib.

Question: Nicole, you thrive on challenges. What were the major challenges that confronted you in shooting this film. How terrified were you of the musical aspect?

Nicole: In terms of when I got the role I was absolutely floored, I was so excited. To get a role when you actually get to have the possibility of doing something so unusual. Working with Ewan McGregor, working with Baz, filming in Sydney. The extraordinary character of what he was going to try and achieve with his character. And I just went, "Ahh, this is like such a gift!"

And then, the reality of playing it set in. Because when we got to Sydney, it was like, OK, now we're going to do a read-through. But with a read-through on a musical, you're not just reading lines, you've got to sing.

And you've got to sing unaccompanied , and you have to hope you're in the right key. It's very, very confronting. And it leaves you feeling very exposed. But, that's what's brilliant about Baz. He actually pushes you early on in the pace, so by the time you start to film you are so comfortable with what you are doing, you are ready to try anything and do anything.

And Ewan and I sat down in the first two days of the initial workshop which is a two week workshop in March. And we just looked at each other and we said we have got to be willing to make complete and utter fools of ourselves in front of each other at any time. [laughter]

And we also have to help each other through this because its going to be a long road. And he's going to really push us at times and we're going to get frustrated and we're going to feel that we're no good and all that stuff.

And let's really be great mates, and that's what we promised to each other and what I think we accomplished. It was like going back to drama school. We had singing class, dance class, then we'd have coffee break, and then we'd be off to do improvisational stuff. And we all lived in this big house...in Sydney.

It was drama school [laughter].

Question: As a performer how different is it to express emotions through singing and dancing than it is with straight forward dialogue?

Nicole: That's actually a great question because that's what Baz wanted. He said what I really don't want with this film is to feel that when the singing starts, the emotion stops and we all sort of take time out, and the audience goes well, let's get back into the film.

He wanted to keep the plot and the love story and the emotions that were being depicted present and alive during those scenes so that people wouldn't get bored. And I think he managed to achieve it.

That's the one thing I haven't heard somebody say about this movie, is that its boring. Even with the tango sequence, it is amazing how you can depict strong emotions like jealousy, or love or obsession through music and through dance far more readily.

Strangely enough, once we embraced that concept doing the love scenes, having been able to sing come what may to each other, or whisper in each other's ear and instead of whispering, actually singing. Those are the things somehow, made it easier in a strange way.

Ewan and I would say, "Gosh, this is fun to go to work everyday and sing to each other."

Question: Do you have any favorite musicals of your own, or any favorite singers from musicals, or a performance from a musical that you've enjoyed?

Nicole: Rita Hayworth is it. She's like, I just watch her and think,"Wow!" So beautiful, so charismatic, I mean an extraordinary dancer. She takes your breath away as a performer. I mean all of us women now, before I used to be like, hmmm. I hadn't really paid much attention, I have to say. I've been more, you know, Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn. But suddenly, I look at Marilyn Monroe, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth, Marlene, they're all extraordinary. Ginger Rogers was so undervalued in terms of what she did for Fred Astaire.

I have enormous respect for all those women now. And just how across the board, their talent. Judy Garland, they're just extraordinary.

Question: In respect to Marilyn Monroe. how daunting was it to take on this song, "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," as your own?

Nicole: It was a nightmare. That was my audition song actually. That and "Nobody Does It Better," from the "Spy Who Loved Me," which wasn't in the film, obviously. I just thought, "what is this film going to be?"

Marilyn does the quintessential number there. It's so famous. It's iconic. Something about being just throwing yourself into it, and going "OK, Baz you think it's going to work, great." And we tried different ways, and came up with that particular way. Slightly more sort of chest voice, and less breathy than Marilyn does it. Less classic. This is more kind of raunchy.

I kind of still go, Gosh, I can't believe we tried all this stuff! [laughter] But that's what's kind of fun about it. In terms of Baz as a director, he's really enthusiastic. He's very naive though in his approach to things because he just thinks anything is possible.

That's a beautiful thing to work with, somebody that has not been jaded yet, that isn't cynical, that still has this great belief in trying things, even if its on film and will be there forever, hey, what do you've got to lose? And that's really refreshing.

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Nicole Kidman Pictures

"My first reaction to meeting Nic was pure lust," Cruise says. "It was totally physical."
"When Tom stood up and we shook hands, I found I was looking down at him. It was terrifically embarrassing to learn I was at least a couple of inches taller. It wasn't that he was so short. It's more that I'm so tall - five eleven. I knew it simply wouldn't do, having the girlfriend tower over the macho race-car driver. There were five other men in the room, all staring. They gave me a couple of test pages of script to read, explaining that they had no real part in mind yet. I left thinking, 'Okay, at least I got to visit Los Angeles.'" The next morning, one of the producers called her and said the part was hers. "But what about my height?" she asked. "It doesn't bother Tom," he replied, "so it doesn't bother us."

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