The Bewitching Kidman

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Although most people probably think of her as Australian, Nicole Kidman was actually born in Hawaii on June 20, 1967. She then spent a few of her formative years in Washington, D.C. until her parents moved the family to the land Down Under. There, as an arts-oriented teen, she would drop out of high school to her interest in acting, landing her first film role at 16. After finding a measure of success locally, she headed to Hollywood where she appeared in Dead Calm before falling in love with co-star Tom Cruise on the set of Days of Thunder and marrying him on Christmas Eve of 1990. Though the high-profile liaison would not last, Nicole did blossom into a matinee idol during the decade that they were together. Her career perhaps peaked in 2003, when she won an Oscar for The Hours. To her credit, despite the fact that the tabloids are currently obsessed with her ex-husband's every canoodle with his teen queen fiancee, Katie Holmes, 38 year-old Kidman has kept herself available, at least to talk about her latest picture, an update of the Sixties TV series, Bewitched.

BSN: You played a witch before, in Practical Magic. Did that this play a part in your taking this role?
NK: "No, this was very different from Practical Magic. It's not like there's any kind of thread there."

BSN: Tell me a little about your version of Samantha?
NK: "I can't stop doing magic. That's the character. And I really want to stop, because if you can do magic, then you can fix everything, you never have to feel any real emotions, you never have to experience the ups-and-downs of love, and everything's at your fingertips. Instead, I really want to sort of give up the magic and exist in the world as a person that just has to go with the flow and roll with the punches. But, obviously, I can't quite give it up."

BSN: What do you think it would be like to have magical powers?
NK: "If you could do magic, it would be absolutely impossible to give up the powers. And I think that's where the film leads you. Why should she? It's who she is. She should be loved for who she is, and not have to be pretending to be something else."

BSN: Is that how you relate to people in real life?
NK: "The thing that I love about the people that I'm really close to, I suppose, is their flaws, because, in some ways, that's the thing that gives you your humanness. If we all walk around trying to be perfect and pretend everything's fine, I think that's just less interesting, and you don't feel the compassion when you don't get a sense of someone's vulnerability."

BSN: How do you explain the popularity of you're co-star, Will Ferrell?
NK: "I think the thing with Will is that he has the kindest eyes. I mean, with a comedian, a lot of time there can be an edge. But with Will, there's just this big, big, big heart. and I think that's what people respond to. But at the same time, he's completely crazy, in an absolutely adorable way. This man has quirks and this imagination that makes you go, 'Where did that come from?'"

BSN: What's his character like?
NK: "He's this movie star, Jack Wyatt, who's on the downward spiral. And he's going to star in a remake of Bewitched. That sort of sets the groundwork for comedic scenarios."

BSN: Did you watch the TV show as a children?
NK: "It was my favorite show growing up. 6 PM, every night, before dinner, my sister and I would sit down in our pajamas, having just had our bath, and watch Bewitched, and dream that we could be Sam. It was quite fun, having watched it as a little girl, to be able to step into it as a woman and kin of pay homage to it."

BSN: How did you enjoy working with the likes of Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, David Alan Grier and Steve Carell?
NK: "We were very lucky. We have a great cast in this film. It's rare that you have either strong comedians or dramatic actors in even the tiny, tiny roles."

BSN: How did you get Elizabeth Montgomery's nose twitch down for this role?
NK: "I used a mirror, and I needed a slow-mo on the VCR. I would put her nose in slow motion, and then I would kind of try to mimic it. and my mom would say, 'No, that wasn't very good. Try again.'"

BSN: This was a bit of a departure for you from your mostly dramatic work in recent years. Were you at all hesitant about taking the role?
NK: "You're always hesitant about every movie, whether it be adapting a novel, or remaking a TV series. In the strangest way, remaking a TV series has far less of an onus on it than trying to do The Portrait of a Lady. I think the lesson you learn is that you try to not stay within the confinements of what's been done before. Even though you're doing a remake, you want to find another way of telling a story with this film."

BSN: Many people think of the Tv series as cursed, because so many actors associated with it died young. Were you at all spooked out about that?
NK: "No, Elizabeth Montgomery's husband, Bill Asher, who directed a lot of the TV episodes, is an extra in the film."

BSN: What was it like for him to be there?
NK: "He would visit the set a lot. I think he enjoyed it, although I always felt slightly uncomfortable, worrying that he was thinking that I wasn't at all like Elizabeth."

BSN: Are you going to take a break from making movies now?
NK: “No, I just had a huge break. I took six months.�

BSN: How did you spend the time?
NK: “I went to Australia. Took my whole family away for Christmas. I’m not going away again till I finish the film I‘m working on now. [entitled Fur] We only just started making it a couple of weeks ago.�

BSN: I hear you’re playing photographer Diane Arbus. Did you read a biography about her to prepare for this role?
NK: “It’s actually not really a bio-pic. It’s hard to talk about something before it comes out. It’d be better to talk about it then.�

BSN: Where will you be going on vacation next?
NK: “Sorry, I now don’t tell anybody where I’m going or what I’m going to do, because it just gets publicized and then I can’t go back.�

For more reports please call (212) 481-7745 to subscribe to the newsstand edition of The Black Star News, the world’s leading Pan African news weekly. Send comments to [email protected]

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