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.
Country singer Keith Urban and actress Nicole Kidman are in L.A. after spending time in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keith is getting ready to co-host the ACM Awards with Mickey Guyton live from Nashville on Sunday.
“Extra’s” Jenn Lahmers spoke with Mickey and Keith, who said he is happy to get “back into the ACM groove.” He added, “I had a blast doing it in September.”
His wife Nicole is also back to work, and the first photos of her as Lucille Ball for her role in “Being the Ricardos” surfaced this week. Keith gushed, “I’m proud of her for anything. It’s a really an extraordinary role and it’s an extraordinary script — Aaron Sorkin has written beyond on this. It’s just amazing. She’s loving doing it.”
The couple has been “crash coursing” episodes of the iconic “I Love Lucy.” When asked if he is like Desi in real life, Keith quipped, “I’m definitely not Desi.”
Nothing like beautiful new photoshoot images of Nicole … these are from the backyard photoshoot she did for the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier this month. Love her dress by Giorgio Armani.
– Nicole Kidman Online > Outtakes > 2021 > 001
Images from Nicole presenting the winner for best picture at the Producers Guild Awards.
Images from Nicole and her family’s appearance at the virtual ceremony of the Golden Globe Awards.
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban’s daughters dressed up to join their parents for the rare appearance
Nicole Kidman has her family by her side for the Golden Globes.
On Sunday night, The Undoing actress, 53, appeared virtually for the 2021 Golden Globes broadcast during the opening monologue, seated on a couch, all dressed up in a Louis Vuitton gown beside her husband Keith Urban, and their two daughters, Sunday Rose, 12, and Faith Margaret, 10, whom generally remain out of the spotlight.
Speaking with Marie Claire Australia for the magazine’s November issue, Kidman said her country singer husband has to retreat from their “female-heavy” family from time to time. The couple tied the knot in 2006.
“We’re definitely female-heavy! But as the girls say, ‘The dog’s a boy!’ ” said Kidman at the time, adding: “At times, [Keith] just needs to escape with his guitar. Sometimes I’ll find him in his closet playing guitar. That’s when I know we really need to give him space.”
“Oh, and he Googles cars — I’ll know when he’s stressed ’cause he’s Googling cars,” Kidman — who is also mom to two adult children with ex-husband Tom Cruise, son Connor, 25, and daughter Isabella, 28 — continued. “I couldn’t care less what car I’m driving; you can pick me up in any old thing. But Keith and Faith love cars.”
Kidman also opened up about juggling parenting duties with Urban as they balance their busy careers.
“We never leave the kids, one of us is always there,” said Kidman. “When Keith went to Nashville and I had to work late nights, I rang [my sister Antonia] and asked her to move in with the girls and she did, and brought along her kids. That’s special.”
“It’s the nature of what we’re all having to do now – you get to be commune-like; this extended family where you’re all raising each other’s kids together,” she continued. “We’ve all had to go back to basics, and this year has required it because people are pleading for help.”
The 78th Annual Golden Globes Awards are airing live on NBC from 5-8 p.m. PT/8-11 p.m. ET.
People.com shares director Aaron Sorkin’s views of Nicole as Lucille Ball and the premise of the new film Being the Ricardos.
Nicole Kidman will play Lucille Ball opposite Javier Bardem’s Desi Arnaz in Aaron Sorkin’s upcoming drama Being the Ricardos
Aaron Sorkin knows he found the right person to play the legendary Lucille Ball.
The writer and director behind the upcoming Being the Ricardos, a drama about Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, explained why he cast Nicole Kidman as the I Love Lucy star in a new interview with Entertainment Tonight. Kidman, 53, will star opposite Javier Bardem, 51, who will play Arnaz.
The casting was questioned by some fans, who felt maybe Debra Messing, who bears a striking resemblance to Ball, would better nail the comedic tones of I Love Lucy. Others criticized casting the Spain-born Bardem as Arnaz, who was Cuban-American.
But Sorkin said the casting was all about the actual actors, and not about their famous characters.
“I think that the people thought that we’ve cast them as Lucy and Ricky Ricardo,” Sorkin told ET. “The film takes place during a production week of I Love Lucy – a Monday table read to Friday audience taping, with a whole bunch of long flashbacks which are telling the story that got us here – and because there’s a table read, there’s rehearsals and then there’s tape night, we do see moments of them being Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. We see moments from an episode of I Love Lucy.”
“But mostly they are playing Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball. And they’re going to be fantastic. These are two of the greatest actors ever,” Sorkin added.
Sorkin also gave a small tease of what the movie will actually follow.
“Lucy and Desi were madly in love with each other. Madly, madly in love with each other. They also often wanted to kill each other. There was very interesting friction in this relationship,” he said. “There’s also a big thing that a lot of people don’t know about Lucille Ball, which gets dramatized in this. We start shooting in seven weeks and we’re in prep now and the film will be out around this time next year.”
Ball and Arnaz’s daughter, Lucie Arnaz, also defended Kidman’s casting earlier this year in a video message shared on Facebook. Lucie has been an active participant in stories involving her famous parents, who died three years apart in the late ’80s.
“There seems to be a lot of discussion about Nicole Kidman. It should be Debra Messing. It should be Carole Cook, I don’t know,” Lucie said in the video.
“Here’s the deal. You should understand. We are not doing a remake of I Love Lucy. No one has to impersonate Lucy Ricardo nor do the Vitameatavegamin routine, or the chocolate factory routine or any of the silly things,” she said. “It’s the story of Lucille Ball, my actual mother, not Lucy Ricardo, and her husband, Dezi Arnaz, my dad, not Ricky Ricardo.”
“There will be humor in the film, but it is a story of the two of them and how they met and what went right with finding the show, what went wrong, their relationship, their love affair,” she added.