Happy Birthday to one talented and amazing woman! Here’s to hoping that this next year is filled with lots of beautiful things!
The actress and helmer discuss bringing the twisty murder mystery — which became HBO’s most watched show of 2020 — to the screen
Director Susanne Bier vividly remembers her first meeting with Nicole Kidman to discuss collaborating on The Undoing, the pair’s nail-biter of an HBO limited series. The director walked into the Sunset Marquis to find the star seated beneath a giant black-and-white portrait of herself. “It was almost mythical,” says Bier, who needed little convincing to sign on to the project. Kidman, for her part, was completely unaware of the placement. “I didn’t see it!” she insists. “I just remember that we clicked and that she really wanted the show to be a thriller, not a character study, and that was exciting to me.” The two went on to bring David E. Kelley’s scripts to life in the compelling, six-episode limited series, which became the network’s most watched show of 2020.
Nicole, you collaborated with David on Big Little Lies. What did you feel he was doing differently in this script that made you excited to work with him again?
NICOLE KIDMAN Well, this is primarily about a marriage and about a family, so it’s very much the couple front and center. I loved that. That’s what David had not done in Big Little Lies. He was shaping it to so many different storylines and so many different women, and so to be the focus of his attention through the whole show was really, really exciting to me. And I just get his rhythms and I can speak his rhythms, and it’s just rare that you get that kind of connection with a writer where you feel that whatever they write, you can grasp.
Susanne, not having worked with David before, what was your reaction to the initial scripts?
SUSANNE BIER I wanted more. David’s writing is very precise and very compelling. It could really go both ways because he can go very deep in character studies, but I think he got very excited about the thrill of it all. I felt that making it more of a thriller would allow for the character stories but would give the characters a very clear direction, which I felt was needed.
The show is based on a novel called You Should Have Known. How much liberty did you feel you could take with the adaptation?
BIER David had made it very clear to the author early on that he felt the novel only really worked in terms of making it into TV for the first couple of episodes. So that was a clear agreement between them that he would use the novel for the first two episodes and then he would shape the series in the way that he felt was right. And it is very different — one of the biggest differences being that the character of Jonathan [played by Hugh Grant] is a huge part of the series and not so much in the novel.
KIDMAN Novels work as novels. I think what happens sometimes is there’s such reverence for every single part of it, but there’s a reason a book works as a book. You’ve then got to go and re-create it, whether it’s for a two-hour film or for a six-hour limited series or an ongoing show. There’s a process that has to happen where you shed. You use what you can and then you carry it forward. David’s very good at that. And we obviously couldn’t even use the book title because why would you sit through six hours if you know the title? It gives you the whole story!Continue Reading
Here is the clip Variety has released of Nicole talking with Chris Rock on their Actors on Actors Series. Love this combination of personalities! And I love that Chris admits to being a huge fan … “I think I have seen all your movies, Nicole Kidman … I am a bigger fan than you would think.”
EW.com has given us a look inside Nicole’s feelings portraying Lucille Ball in her upcoming movie.
Being the Ricardos is a biographical drama about the famed comedian and her husband, Desi Arnaz, who starred in the popular 1951 sitcom I Love Lucy.
Nicole Kidman loves Lucy!
In a recent conversation with Chris Rock for Variety, the 53-year-old Oscar winner opened up about the joys and challenges of playing comedy queen Lucille Ball in Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming film, Being the Ricardos.
Pushing herself to perfect the Ball’s voice, Kidman said: “I’ve had to put in an enormous amount of time on Lucille Ball right now, because she has a very particular way of speaking.”
Agreeing with the 56-year-old stand-up star’s comment that Ball was “just one of the most talented people to ever roam the earth,” Kidman said, “I am way out of my comfort zone right now, Chris! I’m free-falling.”
“I’d like to be funny. I’m never cast funny,” she said.
Joking with the actress, Rock said, “Oh, you could be funny. You’re playing Lucille Ball. You better be funny.”
“Lucille Ball is hopefully funny. The strange thing about Lucille Ball is that everyone thinks we’re remaking the ‘I Love Lucy’ show, and it’s so not that. It’s about Lucy and Desi and their relationship and their marriage,” The Undoing actress said. “It’s very deep, actually.”
Praising the comedy and sitcom legend as a “trailblazer,” Kidman highlighted just how far ahead of her times Ball truly was.
“She formed her production company. Desi was Cuban, and she had to fight to get him on the show. They had just so many things in their marriage that are so relevant today, and what she was also dealing with in terms of everything that artists deal with, where you’re up against big corporations. And you’re like, “No, this is art,’ ” Kidman said.
Being the Ricardos is a biographical drama about Ball and her husband, Desi Arnaz, who starred in the popular 1951 sitcom I Love Lucy. The two were married in 1940 and split in 1960.
Nicole is to be featured on the new season of Variety’s Actors on Actors.
Variety and PBS SoCal are gearing up for the 14th season of their Emmy-winning series “Variety’s Actors on Actors.”
The new season, which premieres on June 18 on PBS SoCal, features Kaley Cuoco and Elizabeth Olsen, Ewan McGregor and Pedro Pascal, and Emma Corrin and Regé-Jean Page among the pairs.
This season’s conversations are:
Kaley Cuoco (“The Flight Attendant”) with Elizabeth Olsen (“WandaVision”)
Ewan McGregor (“Halston”) with Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian”)
Nicole Kidman (“The Undoing”) with Chris Rock (“Fargo”)
Emma Corrin (“The Crown”) with Regé-Jean Page (“Bridgerton”)
Kathryn Hahn (“WandaVision”) with Jason Sudeikis (“Ted Lasso”)
Josh O’Connor (“The Crown”) with Anya Taylor-Joy (“The Queen’s Gambit”)
Bowen Yang (“Saturday Night Live”) with Jean Smart (“Hacks”)
Uzo Aduba (“In Treatment”) with Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Gillian Anderson (“The Crown”) with Elisabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
The new season, filmed entirely from the actors’ homes, includes exclusive, one-on-one conversations between actors from potential Emmy-contending series.
Clips will appear on Variety.com a day before Variety’s Actors on Actors issue hits newsstands on June 9.
The four episodes will premiere on PBS SoCal on June 18 at 8 p.m., 8:30 p.m., 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., and re-air on KCET on July 2 at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m., 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. All episodes will stream on pbssocal.org and on the free PBS Video app following their premieres. “Variety’s Actors on Actors” will air on PBS stations across the nation starting in June and on World Channel later this summer (check local listings).
“We are thrilled to present ‘Variety Studio: Actors on Actors’ to showcase this season’s top award-contending talent,” said Michelle Sobrino-Stearns, president and group publisher of Variety. “We are grateful to our wonderful partner, PBS SoCal, for continuing to support this multi-Emmy award-winning show.”
Musicals can be a divisive topic for many, with people often either loving them or hating them (I’ll pitch my tent in the former). But one thing we can’t argue is the that Moulin Rouge, the 2001 Baz Luhrmann film that starred Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, was the rebirth of the movie musical format for the 21st century. With Moulin Rouge celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, there’s no time like the present to learn about the behind-the-scenes facts that made Moulin Rouge a touchstone film.
Baz Luhrmann Had Three Rules For His Red Curtain Trilogy
Moulin Rouge is the final film in what is known as Baz Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy. It started with Luhrmann’s debut film, Strictly Ballroom, and also includes the Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes-led Romeo + Juliet.
This isn’t a typical trilogy or movie franchise – Strictly Ballroom was a contemporary look at competitive ballroom dancing in Australia; Romeo + Juliet was Luhrmann’s spin on the classic Shakespearean tragedy; and Moulin Rouge is a 19th century-set musical featuring modern day songs. But Luhrmann had a clear vision on what Red Curtain meant, which he told to the BBC at the time of Moulin Rouge’s release:
“It’s what I call red-curtain cinematics. There are some basic rules. One, you must know how it ends when you begin. Two, as with Strictly Ballroom, which is primarily the myth of overcoming oppression, it is set in a heightened created world, a land far, far away. And three, a device to keep the audience at all times awake to the experience that they are watching a movie. It’s not about naturalism. These three rules allow the audience to be in agreement with the film, a contract.”
You’d have to agree he stuck to all three rules for Moulin Rouge.
Moulin Rouge Was Nearly Set At Studio 54 In The 1970s
One of Moulin Rouge’s signatures is the fact that you have 19th-century Parisians singing Nirvana, Elton John and Christina Aguilera, but the story was almost set in 1970s New York rather than Belle Époque Paris.
When developing the story of Moulin Rouge, Luhrmann said in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes that for a moment he was looking at setting the events in the famous Studio 54, with the young writer/singer coming to New York and getting involved in the club’s underworld. This would have meant that instead of Toulouse-Lautrec (played by John Leguizamo), there would have been Andy Warhol.
Trying to decide about the story’s setting, Luhrmann and his production team took a trip to do research in Paris and found that they could bring excitement to the 1890s. The fact that 54, a movie about the famous club (pictured above), was released in 1998 could also have had something to do with it, though Luhrmann makes no mention of it.
Heath Ledger And Jake Gyllenhaal Were Both Up For The Role Of Christian
Ewan McGregor is fantastic in the role of Christian, the penniless poet who falls in love with Nicole Kidman’s Satine, but two other young actors were vying for the role at the time – Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Luhrmann, again to Rotten Tomatoes, talks about test footage he has of Ledger and Gyllenhaal, praising both of their singing, but he admits that it would have been a very different story with either one of them. Mostly because of the age difference either would have had with Nicole Kidman. At the time the movie was released in 2001, Ledger would have been 22 and Gyllenhaal would have been 20, meaning a much younger version of Christian.
At the end of the day, Luhrmann didn’t feel that the age difference was best for the story, and believes that the pairing of Kidman and McGregor is in the realm of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca.
Baz Luhrmann’s Father Died On The First Day Of Production
The production of Moulin Rouge was a grueling one for a multitude of reasons that we’ll dive into shortly, but one example was the heavy personal loss that Luhrmann experienced on the very first day of production when he learned that his father had passed away.
Luhrmann knew his father was sick, but as he explained in an episode of AMC’s Backstory, everything happened very quickly. He said for the first time he was forced to put something above his work and he needed time to mourn and bury his father.
But, as the film reaffirms multiple times, “the show must go on,” and Luhrmann would craft his best-known film.
Nicole Kidman Performed Her Iconic Entrance Without A Stunt Double
You’ve got to love a movie star entrance, and Nicole Kidman certainly had one for Moulin Rouge, as the raucous nightclub scene stops in its tracks when she is lowered from the ceiling on a swing in a sparkling corset before flying around the room and going into a dance number, all while singing a remix of “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.” The scene was parodied for Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar entrance in 2002 and Rotten Tomatoes called it one of the 21 most memorable movie moments of the 21st century so far.
With all the intricacies and potential danger from the scene, it would be fair to assume Nicole Kidman had a stunt double, but Kidman refused. She trained for about two weeks for the number to be “100% stunt-free,” as Luhrmann put it, who credits the moment to Kidman’s physical confidence.
Surprisingly, it was other moments of the production that proved a bit more dangerous for Kidman.Continue Reading
In many ways, Moulin Rouge!, which came out 20 years ago today, was ahead of its time. In 2001, Hollywood was no stranger to big blockbuster films, but a splashy approach to making movie-musicals was still relatively new. Director Baz Luhrmann’s approach saw the genre go bigger, louder, and glitzier than ever before—much thanks to Moulin Rouge’s elaborate set designs and over-the-top costumes, of course. “We were sailing in uncharted waters,” says Catherine Martin, who served as the co-costume designer alongside Angus Strathie. “Baz was trying to reinvent the modern movie musical, and flying in the face of all studio conventions. He is an extraordinary visionary, and pushes you as an artist to examine stories and historical periods in new and totally unexpected ways.”
If you’ve never seen the film, the plot follows a young Englishman (Ewan McGregor) who becomes infatuated with Satine (Nicole Kidman), a singer at the local Moulin Rouge in Montmartre, Paris. Set in 1900, the historical time period is juxtaposed by raucous renditions of modern songs like “Lady Marmalade.” The costumes Satine wears on-stage at the club play an equally-important role in the flick (so much so that both Martin and Strathie earned an Oscar for their work). Each scene brings a more enchanting look than the last: She’ll sing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” in a crystal-embellished, fringed mini dress with a tophat to match, then dance to a number like “Rhythm of the Night” wearing a fitted bustier with a dramatic feathered train.
To develop the costumes, Martin first looked back to 1889, when the Moulin Rouge originally opened (yes, it’s a real place). They based many of the looks that Satine and her dancers wear by examining what people really wore during the era. “It was very exciting because I got to go to the Costume Institute at the Met, and explore their collections from this period,” Martin says. “I remember being particularly excited by late 19th century feather boa. I just couldn’t believe its colors: It was the most brilliant orange and purple striped object, with fabulous silken tassels at the end. It was positively modern!” Martin liked it so much, she ended up designing a similar boa that’s worn by a dancer named Nini-Legs-in-the-Air during a party scene.
Though the costumes were historically accurate, Martin says she and Strathie had to incorporate elements that would make the clothes feel modern and fresh. “After researching and starting from historical fact, Baz talked about finding a way of connecting with the audience with the period clothes,” she says, adding that they looked to “classic movie musical heroines” for symbols and signs that the audience could connect with today. “One fundamental rule was that we couldn’t use anything that was anachronistic,” Martin says, though there were a few gray areas they let slide. “We could include elements such as Satine wearing dark glasses, even though conventional wisdom would refute this choice. Sunglasses actually existed for scientific purposes, mountain climbing, skiing, or going to the Arctic, but the question of would a musician have worn them like we do today, is open for discussion.”
It’s hard for Martin to pick a favorite costume from Moulin Rouge!, but one of her favorite details from the project was playing into Luhrmann’s fixation on the color red, especially via Satine’s iconic red gown for the “Elephant Love Medley” track. “The red dress that Satine wears is striking in its simplicity and its sculptural form,” says Martin. “There’s nothing to hide behind. It’s just needed to be executed with confidence.”
As for the memory that Martin can’t shake from working on the film two decades ago? It had nothing to do with the costuming, rather the dramatic finale to the movie shoot all together. “One of the saddest and most most magnificent things that I experienced during the making of Moulin Rouge! was when our enormous elephant room that graced the Moulin Rouge garden was demolished,” says Martin. “We built it on stage two at the then-Fox Studios in Australia. We were running late in filming and Star Wars was coming in right on our heels. So, instead of carefully dismantling our wonderful elephant, we needed to bring in the excavation equipment and steam rollers to quickly demolish the structure. I’ll never forget seeing the elephant fall to its knees majestically into a pile of rubble on the stage floor.” A dramatic end to one of Hollywood’s most theatrical films.
Every movie has their almost-was moments — a piece of casting that changed, a scene that was left on the cutting room floor.
But in the case of 2001’s Moulin Rouge!, it was mostly songs that got left by the wayside. There were, of course, scenes that got cut or moments that changed (the Duke almost sang Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night” instead of “Like A Virgin”; there was a whole romantic ballooning sequence with Christian and Satine where they sang The Fifth Dimension’s “Up Up & Away, My Beautiful Balloon”).
And there were a lot of tracks tried on for size that were replaced with a better fit as the team behind the music of Moulin Rouge! assembled its score. But there were also two major songs that eluded them because of licensing issues.
The first was Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son,” for which Stevens, who now goes by Yusuf Islam, declined to give the rights. “”Originally [director and co-writer] Baz Luhrmann and [co-writer] Craig Pearce opened the film with a scene that was based around Christian having a disagreement with his father about what he wanted to do with his life and his father’s saying, ‘You have this ridiculous obsession with love,'” executive music producer and music supervisor Anton Monsted tells EW. “It was the most amazing song that we all felt was perfect for this opening of the film.”
Though it was a disappointment for the team, there was some eventual vindication when Islam later admitted he regretted denying them the permissions. “He said in an interview, ‘I was approached to have ‘Father and Son’ be the opening song of Moulin Rouge!, and at the time, I didn’t realize what what this film was trying to say and trying to do, and it was only much later when I saw the film that I realized it was a work of true intent and real meaning,'” recounts Monsted.
The other major song that got away rocked a lot harder; it was the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb,” which they wanted the Duke (Richard Roxburgh) to taunt Satine (Nicole Kidman) with while singing. Record label executive Alan Klein owned the rights to early years of the Stones catalog, and a deal was never reached.
“That was always an idea that was in early drafts of the script and the lyrics just worked beautifully, but we couldn’t come to terms on the rights deal to license the song,” says Monsted. “It wasn’t a moral objection and it wasn’t a creative objection from anywhere; it was just the terms of the music license and we couldn’t quite get there with with Alan Klein. So, that was one that had to go.”
But even this ended up having its own moral victory. When music director Justin Levine was putting together the score for the stage production of Moulin Rouge!, he remembered this story. “I knew Baz was trying to get a Rolling Stones song into the movie, originally,” Levine tells EW. “So that was something that was really important to me that I would try and see if we could make that happen.”
After much back and forth with the Stones’ team and what song they would use, how they’d use it, and how much of it they’d use, Levine secured “Sympathy for the Devil,” “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” and “Gimme Shelter” for a medley titled “Sympathy for the Duke.”
So, whether they ended up in the film or not, perhaps the greatest thing we could ever learn about these songs is just to love — because eventually, you’ll be loved in return.
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return.”
Today marks 20 years since the release of the film Moulin Rouge.
We will be posting little unknown facts and articles through out the day in honor of the film. Plus you can learn more about the film on our filmography page dedicated to the film or check out images from the film in our gallery.
Hulu has released the promotional spot for Nicole’s new series Nine Perfect Strangers.
Welcome to Tranquilim House, where in just 10 days, you will be transformed. Nine Perfect Strangers, a Hulu Original, is coming soon.