Did Eyes Wide Shut destroy Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise's marriage? You may recall that when the married couple made the Stanley Kubrick movie, there was talk that they needed a sex therapist to juice up their scenes. The movie — which took more than a year to make in London — bombed on release. The marriage followed.
Would Nicole do it again, I asked her recently?
"I think it was a great movie. I think the film was very, very subtle. And it was profound concerning the issues that Stanley was dealing with. I would do it again absolutely. Absolutely. To work with Kubrick?"
Kidman, as I reported last week, is indeed cutting back her work schedule. But she told me that as far as she knows, she'll do Lars von Trier's new movie in Denmark. When it was announced recently that she'd dropped out of the movie, all of Scandinavia was in a tizzy. Some of the cast denounced her publicly. Kidman told me she didn't even know about it.
"I was talking to Lars, he apologized [for the misunderstanding]. But I was in Australia when it happened. What were they saying? They don't want me to do the film? All I know is I'm doing the film, to my knowledge."
Part of the gamble of being in such a glaring spotlight for Kidman is having all of her life problems dissected in the press. Like the von Trier episode. And the divorce.
"It is uncomfortable in terms of the press. I'm a private person. My things are being written about. At times it's incredibly embarrassing. But most people are polite enough not to ask those questions. As long as you deal with it, you're all right."
But all the publicity has paid off for The Others, which opened this weekend with a $13 million box-office take in limited release. Kidman has been getting the best reviews of her life and may even get an Oscar nomination.
It was a long uphill battle, including making her ex-husband Tom Cruise, appear at the Los Angeles premiere just to generate heat. But now The Others should do well on its own.
Anyone who believes that Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz have found each other better get with the program. They share the same publicist, they each have an interest in a current movie (Tom produced The Others; Penelope stars in Captain Corelli's Mandolin), and co-star in another film at Christmas (Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky). Edward Bernays, the father of public relations, must be chortling from the great beyond.
But then there's Nicole, who also colluded in this campaign, and she's no dummy. Quite the contrary. She walks out of this famed marriage with a real body of work she can look at after twelve years: To Die For, Portrait of a Lady, Dead Calm, The Peacemaker, Moulin Rouge and now The Others are among her strongest performances. Does she think about that, I wondered?
"I think I really enjoyed the directors I worked with and a certain diversity in the roles. I get to work with some of the best directors in the world. But I'm pretty hard on myself."
She has a great range, I said.
"Well, it's range, and it's luck with directors too, giving you the opportunity," she replied. "There are a lot of great actors out there and half the time you don't get the part. You look at all the actors in New York waiting for their big break."
As I reported last week, Kidman will go back on stage in 2002 in London's West End, with Sam Mendes — Oscar winning director of American Beauty — guiding her as he did in the stage version of The Blue Room. Does she like the experience of theater, of eight shows a week?
"It's very hard work. It's grueling. In terms of discipline, it's so important. You say, 'I've got to work hard to do this every night.' In film you don't get pushed this way. But it feeds you," she told me.
We did talk about Kidman's change in her life. The first time I really met Nicole Kidman was at Time magazine's stupendous 75th anniversary party at Radio City Music Hall a couple of years ago. She was with Cruise, but her mother was also along.
"She's my best friend, she and my sister," Nicole told me last week.
Her mother has been very involved in the raising of her kids. Will it be harder now to make movies without having a husband?
"You're a mother number one," she said. "I want the kids to be 21 and feel that I did the best that I could. If that means turning down parts, then I’ll have to."
All summer I've been meaning to tell you about a terrific book of essays by Patricia Corrigan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Convertible Dreams: Saturday Morning Musings on Life, Lunch and Matters of the Heart, compiles Corrigan's columns from the Post-Dispatch taking the best ones since 1993. I don't know why Oprah's Oxygen or the Lifetime channel haven't found this writer yet. She's the breath of fresh air both of those networks need.
Female columnists are aplenty these days, but the kind of writing that Corrigan does is a real art, something in the vicinity of Erma Bombeck meets Ellen Goodman. As a single mother she has more than her share of parenting stories, all amusing, some very poignant. I particularly liked the one about her college-age son traveling in Europe, wanting to be independent, but calling home as he loses his wallet and his CD player.
Corrigan is an interesting combination of personas. She's a breast-cancer survivor (comparing her cancer to a "rip" in her "space suit"), an inveterate traveler, and a world-trotting whale watcher. And you thought folks from the Midwest didn't have exciting lives! She likes to go to the St. Louis Zoo and interview the animals. (Well, come on, every town has its celebrities.)
"Pearl is pregnant for the first time. So far everything is going well. She is twenty, a single mother who lives with four friends," she writes wisely of a local elephant. “The father lives in Springfield, Missouri and probably won’t be involved in the birth or the rearing of the infant. ... Last week I dropped by the zoo to talk babies. I was greeted with some enthusiastic trunk nuzzling and a great deal of information about pregnant elephants. It was Pearl who did the nuzzling, and my sweatshirt bore visual and aromatic traces of the same for the rest of the day."
Convertible Dreams is published by Virginia Publishing of, where else, St. Louis, Missouri. I checked, and you can get it from amazon.com. So what are you waiting for, Oprah?
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