Noah Baumbach's latest on twisted family life.
Nicole Kidman dazzled during her press conference for Margot at the Wedding. The setting was an ostentatious ballroom at New York City's Waldorf Astoria. She strolled down the aisle radiantly, fulfilling the glamorous actress role to a tee. She got the usual barrage of b.s. personal questions before the press corps. got to talking about the film. If you think you've got a screwed up family, go see Margot at the Wedding and you'll feel better about your situation. To say Margot has issues is an understatement. Noah Baumbach, the writer/director and hubby of star Jennifer Jason Leigh, must have been beaten and molested by carnies as a child to write about such ****ed people. Read on as the glamorous Nicole Kidman waxes poetic on Margot, Hollywood, The Golden Compass, and Australia.
Margot's sister (played by Jennifer Jason Leigh) characterizes her as someone who changes her mind a lot, and there are multiple scenes where you are popping pills. Is Margot emotionally unstable or chemically unbalanced?
Nicole Kidman: I think she's having a breakdown. I think she's in crisis and the way in which she's coping and behaving is very much an indicator of things turning into turmoil. I think what's wonderful about Noah's [Baumbach, the director] writing is that he wickedly funny. He's dealing with disturbing parts of family life and he's able to bring humor and I've always been attracted to things like that. I made a film, To Die For, which had a pretty dark subject matter; but it was done with such humor. Buck Henry was able to balance that. I think Noah has some similar attributes with Buck Henry. I think they are both great writers.
Was there any improvisation on set?
Nicole Kidman: Pretty much the way Noah constructed the script is what we shot. I think when you work with a writer-director; you work with someone that's full of art. He's very thoughtful. Everything's constructed layer upon layer and by the time you get to actually shooting, the script has been worked on to such a degree that it wasn't like let's rewrite scenes. There was a scene that we added while we were shooting. It's the scene in bed where Jennifer and I are both talking to each other. I'm so glad he put that scene in there.
Did you want to see a resolution that makes Margot more likeable, or at least redeems her?
Nicole Kidman: I think that's a very simplistic way of looking at filmmaking. People expect there to be a beginning, middle, and an end. Life doesn't give you an ending. We're born and we die. Everything that happens in between, there isn't a beginning, middle and an end that we are able to follow in a linear way and I think this film doesn't deal with an ending. It deals with possibly a beginning.
Can you talk about working with newcomer Zane Pais, who played your son? You two have a complex relationship in the film.
Nicole Kidman: He's at the wonderful age where he's stepping from a boy to a man. He's trying to find his way in the world and it's very beautiful when you see somebody with such grace. He was easy to be around. His mother is an actress, so he has an understanding of the work just from having growing up with it. My children are 13 and 15, so I enjoy being around that age. I don't know if he wants to be an actor for the rest of his life, but he certainly has a wonderful presence.
I'm assuming that you are nothing like Margot, but what was the key in finding this character?
Nicole Kidman: I think Noah's strong understanding of what he had written; and also working with Ann Roth again, who I worked with on The Hours and Cold Mountain. She's the costume designer and one of the greats in the world. She really works well with me. She's able to find pieces of clothing and helps me with the walk and all things that you need to change. She gave me the pair of willow socks and that cardigan. I was able to walk around when we were rehearsing and somehow triggered the whole feeling for the movie for me. I also worked with a dialect coach because Margot is such a New Yorker.
Did Ann find the red hat on the poster for you?
Nicole Kidman: Yes. She did and grabbed it and said, 'Perfect'. I tend to work with the same people. I'm doing a film at the moment in Australia with Baz Luhrmann, whom I did Moulin Rouge with. I'm back with a lot of the same crew that I have worked with from when I was a kid. Most of these people that I'm working with now in Australia have known me since I was 16 years old. I realize that I've been around awhile.
Can you talk about working with Jennifer Jason Leigh and establishing this long relationship as sisters?
Nicole Kidman: Jennifer and I have done a lot of work and are very passionate about what we do. We take it really seriously and I can say now 'I'm an actor and that's okay'. I don't have to apologize for that. I think that when you step into the rehearsal process together and you know you only have two weeks, we immediately started to be tactile and we started to open up secrets to each other. It's so lovely to work with someone that just gets it; that works on that deep level and is willing to work on that level, isn't freaked out by it and has such an enormous knowledge of her craft and is willing to share it. It's rare to be given two female characters in a movie that requires that kind of commitment. It was lovely to be able to watch her, stand back and go 'You're just so talented and I'm so glad that your husband has written such a great role.' It was lovely and to see him supporting her in that way, I think they will make some wonderful films together in the future. Hopefully we have another union like John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands
Is their relationship anything at all to the relationship you have with your sister?
Nicole Kidman: That was one of the things that attracted me. I don't want to do the things that I know. I'm interested in the psychology of what I don't know. I'm interested in learning the human mind, and different people's natures and the way in which we play that out. That fascinates me. Human beings fascinate me. So, my own references are probably less interesting to me. My relationship with own sister... I've talked about it; we're twin-like in our relationship. She's a huge part of my life and I wouldn't have got through parts of my life without her and she would say the same thing about me. The combativeness of this relationship, this sibling relationship is what interested me.
You've worked with some of the best directors today. Is there any director that you haven't got to work with that you would like to and do you think you'll wind up making "The Lady of Shanghai" with Wong Kar Wai?
Nicole Kidman: I'm not willing to go and live in another country for a year. I'm just recently married. So, that's my priority. It's not right for my life right now. I seek out directors who I think are strong voices. I'm not fond of difficult directors, but I'm drawn to that in a way. I really would love to work with Scorsese. I'd love him to construct a film around a woman. I still ask him all the time; because I'd be interested in seeing that movie. I'd like to work with Steven Spielberg. I've known him as a friend for a long time, so I would like to do that. I love working internationally. If Wong-Kai would shoot sometime a little closer to home then I would like to work with him as well. I'd be willing to go back into Dogville territory at some stage.
As one of the top-tier actresses in Hollywood, how much pressure do you feel about box office success and touching on what you said, can you tell us what's it like working in outback Australia and with Baz again?
Nicole Kidman: I think as a woman it's lovely to be paid well for what you do, and then for Margot you don't get paid anything to do a film like this. Primarily, I'm there for the long haul so I do small films. Occasionally I'll do a big film, but I suppose my heart is about the artistic part and that's what associates me ultimately. It's wonderful to have financial rewards and at the same time I'm in a place where I can just now work as a woman in the things I want to do. That's hard earned and I'm very pleased to be in a place where I can just say, 'I have my home, I have my marriage and I'm able to now follow an artistic path and still take care of myself'. I'm very happy to be in Australia. I've been there since April making this film. I hope it lives up to my expectations because I wanted to make a film that's deeply romantic. It's a got a magical quality to it but still it's a sweeping drama filled with some comedy. If we can pull that off, I'd be very, very pleased. It's also nice to stand by a director you've worked with before and say, 'I'm right here next to you again. Let's go. Let's try. Let's try to do something unusual and special'.
How was it working on The Golden Compass?
Nicole Kidman: When you're in drama school and you have mime class and say, 'I'm never going to be using this' and subsequently now with green screen and special effects, the mime class and the accent classes are the most important classes in drama school. Pretending I had a golden monkey that was just a stuffed toy. That's a big leap. I used all I know from Marcel Marceau.