The Toronto Sun
10 May 2001
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Candid Cannes: Kidman braves 'sharks'

CANNES -- If there is a media feeding frenzy around the fractured personal lives of Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, then the Cannes Film Festival is home to the biggest shark tank in the world.

But Kidman refused to be frightened off yesterday. With a smile on her face and a giggly mood that led to joking with her director Baz Luhrmann and co-star Ewan McGregor, Kidman jumped in feet first to support her new, high-energy film, Moulin Rouge.

The outrageous, sexy and hallucinogenic musical served as last night's official opening night gala of the 54th edition of the most prestigious film festival on the planet.

"You guys are sharks?" she teased at the afternoon Moulin Rouge press conference when The Sun asked why she was willing to risk going public right now.

"Yeah, obviously this would not be my choice, if it was under different circumstances (that is, if she didn't have to be here to promote Moulin Rouge), to sit in front of everybody and have questions about my personal life. So thank you for not asking one.

"But I do feel really proud of this film. We worked really hard on it. We waited a long time for it to be finished. I think it is important to promote it because it is not something a public says: 'Yes, this is what we want to go and see.'

"It's a musical. We sing a lot of the film. It's very hard to describe in two sentences. Yet, the reaction that we are getting from almost everyone who sees it is that they have never seen anything like it, and they enjoy it. So that is exciting.

"I'm just extremely proud of it and glad that I was able to make a movie with Baz and Ewan and everybody, and for it to actually be asked to open the Cannes Film Festival."

In the movie, Kidman, McGregor and others, including Jim Broadbent and John Leguizamo, sing a range of 20th century tunes, including Madonna's Like A Virgin and Material Girl, Elton John and Bernie Taupin's Your Song, Kurt Cobain's Smells Like Teen Spirit, a clutch of Beatles songs in a love medley, and even "the hills are alive" excerpts from The Sound Of Music.

Moulin Rouge is set in the famous Paris cabaret in 1899-1900 with Kidman as an entertainer and courtesan torn between her love for the impoverished writer played by McGregor and her lust for the riches offered by an obsessed fan played by Richard Roxburgh.

Luhrmann says the songs were not chosen to shock or titillate. "It was not about, wouldn't it be groovy or wouldn't it be fun." Each song helped him move the story forward, Luhrmann said. The actors sang their emotions on screen.

Kidman praised the songwriters and musicians involved in the licensing of the songs for the movie, often a prohibitively expensive part of filmmaking. "Most of the artists who gave us the songs were incredibly generous and did not rake us over the coals," Kidman said.

Kidman does all her own singing and has no favourites. "I loved singing all the songs in the movie."

As for a personal fave in the love song category, she gave a revealing answer: "That changes depending on who I'm in love with." When she realized how that would sound in the midst of her breakup and divorce proceedings with Cruise, she started to laugh, rolled her eyes and said: "Oh no!"

But Luhrmann said Kidman is that kind of woman: "Funny and kind of gangly and raucous." He saw it in her a decade ago when they did a magazine shoot together for Vogue.

So one of his goals as a filmmaker, he said, was to show off her funny side, and "let that inner craziness get out" at the Moulin Rouge. Even if it meant feeding her to the sharks.