Nicole Kidman on pulling hope and love out of a 'Rabbit Hole'
"I wanted to make a movie about how people continue to love each other when everything goes bad," Nicole Kidman said about "Rabbit Hole" while dishing Wednesday night with members of the Actors Studio and Screen Actors Guild Foundation in Los Angeles. The event was a salute to her whole career, but there was special emphasis on "Rabbit Hole" for several reasons. It's her newest film due to open on Dec. 17, she produced it and it marks her serious return to the Oscar derby eight years after winning lead actress for "The Hours."
Nicole Kidman had Oscar disappointments in 2009 ("Nine") and 2008 ("Australia"). However, early reactions to media and industry screenings of "Rabbit Hole" are aces and it's a proven winner of a role. Cynthia Nixon nabbed the Tony Award in 2006 for portraying a woman paralyzed with grief over the death of her young son. The hit Broadway play casts a harsh light on what the loss does to the woman's marriage, but Kidman perceives the drama as hopeful.
She said, "80% of marriages that endure such a tragedy end in divorce. I wanted to make a movie about the other 20%."
Kidman optioned the play soon after it opened – right after she read the New York Times review – so that means before it won the Pulitzer Prize. She hired a most unconventional director: John Cameron Mitchell, author, star and director of transexual classic "Hedwig and the Angry Inch."
"I picked John because he's a bold filmmaker," she said. "He's not going to let this be cold."
It took Kidman four and a half years to get the movie made. When financing finally came together, the timing was bad. She had just settled into a life of domestic bliss. Her daughter with country crooner Keith Urban, Sunday Rose, was 10 months old. "I didn't want to leave home to do the movie then," she confessed, but Urban urged her on. "He said, 'I want to see you act again.' So he pushed me out of the nest."
However, when it came time to shoot the film, Kidman knew that she, as a new mom, would be affected by the film in a dark psychological way. She warned her husband. "I told Keith, 'For the next six weeks I'm going into a place that's altered. I'll come out OK at the end.'"
Kidman came out more than OK. "Rabbit Hole" looks like a winner in every way. It might even be nominated for best picture at the Oscars. Meantime, she seems guaranteed to be nominated next week by the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes and Critics' Choice Awards. A few days later, "Rabbit Hole" opens in theaters. Its ultimate Oscar fate may be decided by how it's received by moviegoers.
Photo credit: Tom O'Neil for L.A. Times