The Guardian
4 September 2001
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Ooh la la... Nicole stops the show
Hype hits a crescendo as Moulin Rouge high kicks into town with Prince Charles as a consort.
by Rebecca Allison

The Moulin Rouge roadshow rolled into town last night with Nicole Kidman and a troupe of genuine showgirls vying for the limelight before thousands of screaming fans at the London premiere of the much hyped film.

Kidman, wearing a black backless dress with thigh-high split, refrained from demonstrating any of her high kicks as she swept into the Odeon Leicester Square for the premiere in aid of the Prince's Trust.

The Prince of Wales was expected to be among a host of celebrities at the screening which included Kidman's co-star, the Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and Australian pop star Kylie Minogue, Bob Geldof, Helena Bonham Carter, and Jemima Khan.

As the celebrities arrived, the crowds outside were treated to a live performance by a team of chorus girls from the real Parisian nightspot as it began to rain.

Arriving at the event Kidman told reporters she was stunned by the reception from her London fans.

"It was much more fun out there than in here - someone even gave me a beautiful bunch of flowers," she said.

Asked about her life since her split from Tom Cruise, Kidman said: "I've come out stronger. I'm lucky, I have got lots of family.

"I've got two children. It's been a whole year of talking about it now."

Kidman said she had been learning to curtsey to meet the prince and added she had found making the film "fun".

She said: "It was so much fun. When will I ever get to do a musical again?"

Asked how she found single life, she said: "I don't know. It is what it is."

It is hoped that the film, not a runaway hit in America, will have more appeal for audiences on this side of the Atlantic.

Set in Montmartre at the end of the 19th century, the plot centres around Ewan McGregor's naive and romantic writer Christian, a man obsessed with ideals of truth, beauty and love, and his passion for Nicole Kidman's beautiful courtesan and showgirl Satine.

The Moulin Rouge theatre, famous for its can-can dancers and its eponymous red windmill on the city's Boulevard de Clichy, provides the backdrop for the fin de siecle musical spectacular which has already been described by some perplexed critics as camp.

Kidman and McGregor both reveal their singing talents in the film, which took 192 days to shoot and is thought to have cost more than $50m to complete.

The movie, the final part of Baz Lurhmann's "red curtain" trilogy of Strictly Ballroom and William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, will open to the public on Friday.

It has grabbed the headlines with its elaborate sets, fantastic costumes, and a fantasy story with dialogue culled from songs by Elton John, the Beatles, U2 and Madonna, and MTV-style editing.

It is the tenth film to celebrate either the Moulin Rouge or the can-can, with others including the 1953 John Huston movie telling the story of the painter Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, and Can-Can, the 1960 Cole Porter musical with Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine.

During a visit to the Venice film festival this weekend, Kidman revealed that her future plans included a return to London theatre, where she made a successful debut three years ago. The actress was reported to be considering roles in two productions to be directed by Sam Mendes at the Donmar Warehouse, where she stunned critics with her performance in The Blue Room in 1998.

Insisting that she was still in talks about the plays and was under strict instructions from the Oscar-winning director to keep the plans under wraps, she added that she was also talking to Trevor Nunn about an upcoming production at the National Theatre.

Meanwhile, Luhrmann has agreed to become a business mentor for the Prince's Trust and last night showed the first fruits of his new role with the charity. A three minute video staring Spice Girl Emma Bunton and actress Brenda Blethyn which Luhrmann helped direct with 26-year-old Matt Bloom from Manchester was screened before Moulin Rouge.

Bloom's company, Hurricane Films, is receiving guidance from the hit director under the trust's scheme to match young people starting out in business with more experienced hands.

Bunton and Blethyn are trust ambassadors and made the short film, a slapstick comedy, over the weekend with the two directors.