Bad Blake is a broken-down, hard-living country music singer who’s had way too many marriages, far too many years on the road and one too many drinks way too many times. And yet, Bad can’t help but reach for salvation with the help of Jean, a journalist who discovers the real man behind the musician. As he struggles down the road of redemption, Bad learns the hard way just how tough life can be on one man’s crazy heart.
Two years ago, Noah Baumbach caused a storm with his film about a dysfunctional family in ‘The Squid and The Whale’. His latest film ‘Margot at the wedding’ is ready to cause a similar storm, continuing the theme of family, with two sisters and the change in their relationship when one of them announces they are getting married to a less-than-impressive fiancé.
For an indie movie, it boasts quite an impressive cast with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jack Black and Nicole Kidman all taking centre stage. In this interview, Nicole Kidman tells us why she takes a pay cut to do smaller movies like this, she also discusses the difficulties in making ‘The Golden Compass’ and tells us about the upcoming epic ‘Australia’ from director Baz Luhrmann.
Q: I’m assuming that you are nothing like Margot, so what was the key for you in finding this character?
NK: The costume designer Ann Roth was able to find pieces of clothing and help me with the walk and all of things that you need to change and she gave me the pair of willow socks and that cardigan and I was able to walk around when we were rehearsing and somehow triggered the whole feeling for the whole movie for me. I was just able to walk around in socks and no shoes in the house and gave a casual feel and also the glasses that she gave me. I also worked with a dialect coach because Margot is such a New Yorker and even though I’ve in New York all my life, it s still something that intimidates me a little bit; particularly a writer who s an intellectual. That can be intimidating, so to play her I had to just sort of jump off and say, Ok, I can do this. Ann Roth and Noah both gave me a lot of confidence and Scott Rudin, the producer.
Q: Did the costume designer, Ann also find the now infamous pink hat for you?
NK: Yes. She did and grabbed it and said, Perfect. I tend to work with the same people. I doing a film at the moment in Australia with Baz Luhrmann, whom I did ‘Moulin Rouge’ and 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. Yeah. I realize that I’ve been around awhile.
Q: Can you tell us what it’s like working in the outback of Australia and with Baz Luhrmann again?
NK: I’m very happy to be in Australia actually. I’ve been there since April making this film ( also called ‘Australia’ ) and it’s my dream of making this film since I was a little girl and 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 and 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. Who knows? Next year, you’ll be sitting here and saying it didn’t work. We’re certainly working hard towards putting something magical on screen.
Q: How was working on ‘The Golden Compass’?
NK: It was very different to Margot. I would say to all actors right now that used to say that mime class was so non-important. 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.
Q: You get to work with the best directors, is there any one that you haven’t got to work with that you would like to?
NK: I seek out directors who are curious about, who I think are strong voices. I’m not fond of difficult directors. I’m drawn to that in a way. I love working internationally. They’ve seen these scripts. They’re the ones. I don t do much pursuing. I sort of tend to get things and I get to respond, which is a lovely place to be as an actor; and I really would love to work with Scorcese. I d love him to construct a film around a woman. I still ask him all the time; because I d interested in seeing that movie. I d like to work with (Steven) Spielberg actually. I’ve always said I wanted to work with Steven and I’ve known him as a friend for a long time, so I would like to do that. 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. There are a number of directors, Joe Wright. I’m very curious about a number of different directors and I could name a huge list but whether our cards cross, I don t know.
Q: Noah Baumbach (Margot writer and director) said that you made the decision to appear in ‘Margot At The Wedding’ literally overnight… Are you in charge of these decisions in your career?
NK: Yeah. I have two agents whom I have worked with my entire career. I’ve got some publicists I’ve never changed anyone in my life really. I pride myself in being very loyal. I think over a lifetime you have to be responsible for your own decisions.
Q: Margot’s sister characterises her as someone who changes her mind a lot. There s a scene where you are popping pills and go off tangent. Is Margot emotionally unstable or chemically unbalanced? Is that something you pointed to as a character reference?
NK: I think she’s having a breakdown. I think she’s in crisis and there are ways in which she’s coping with that and the way in which she’s reacting and behaving is very much an indicator of things turning into turmoil. I think what’s wonderful about Noah’s writing, is that he wickedly funny. He’s dealing with disturbing parts of family life and he’s able to bring humour and I’ve always been attracted to things like that.
Q: Was this film anything at all to the relationship you have with your own sister?
NK: 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. Human-beings fascinate me. My sister is 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. We’re twin-like in our relationship. This sibling relationship is what interested me because I think it’s fascinating when you have this expectation because you are family that you should be getting along. There s a lot of people in the world that can say, I don’t get along with my family, but for whatever reason just because we have the same blood running through us doesn’t mean that we necessarily have the same chemistry together; and that’s fascinating to me. I like being part of storytelling that sort of explores human psychology.
‘Margot At The Wedding’ opens in Ireland on February 29th