Feature by: Jack Foley
OSCAR-winning Australian actress, Nicole Kidman, describes Cold
Mountain as her balance film, despite the many challenges
it represented during the course of filming.
Having recently completed The
Human Stain and Dogville,
in which she is seen to portray characters who endure immense
emotional suffering, as well as physical, Cold Mountain represented
the chance to play someone who isnt damaged,
and who still possesses this beautiful innocence.
Kidman stars as Ada Monroe, the beautiful sweetheart of Jude
Laws Confederate soldier, Inman, who is forced to wait at
home while her would-be lover goes off to fight in the American
In the ensuing three years, she must learn to fend for herself,
on a farm in Cold Mountain, while clinging onto a promise made
by a man she was only just getting to know when they were separated.
And it is this aspect of the relationship which represented one
of the biggest challenges for both Kidman and director, Anthony
Minghella, in translating to audiences just why two people, who
barely knew each other, could strive, so passionately, to be reunited.
Speaking at a London press conference, Minghella told journalists:
"I remember when I was researching The English Patient, and
I kept reading about wartime romances and war brides, that this
strange thing happens, that when death is very close at hand,
life becomes very urgent and it accelerates relationships.
"People cling to each other, people cling to life in the
face of cruelty and death. It feels to me that in these periods,
all the volume controls are turned up. The camaraderie and compassion
exists with enormous illustrations of violence and lack of tenderness.
"There were stories of soldiers returning from the Second
World War and being greeted by a sea of faces of women at the
barricades, and not knowing which one they married four or five
years previously. It felt very true to me, that part of the story.
"But also, I would say this, that first of all, these characters
are very conscious of the fact that they hardly know each other,
its the thing that pre-occupies them. Theyre holding
on to the idea of something good in the face of something bad."
It was this aspect of the relationship that Kidman, in particular,
was keen to realise onscreen, even though it raised the stakes
in terms of her performance.
"It was certainly something that the three of us talked
about; Jude and I were like, okay, how do we make it believable,
when we would literally share, at most, a kiss and glances and
the occasional touch of a hand? How would we then make it believable
that such moments would stay present in someones head, and
be their light, for such a long period of time and draw them back?
I would constantly be saying to Anthony, are you sure weve
"I hope that people will buy into it, that people will believe
it. But its also an idea that Jude and I bought into the
film, while filming, as we were basically passing ships in the
night, because he would be carrying one part of the film, and
I would go back to America, and then I would come back and he
would go back to London, so we were constantly crossing in the
"We would constantly say to each other, hold it, remember
it in the scenes, the presence of each other. Because we were
both very much aware of trying to feed that into each scene, to
the point where you feel snow and you remember Inman."
It is pleasing to be able to report, therefore, that the ensuing
relationship is one which audiences can root for, particularly
as the love between the two is offset against some
shocking scenes of brutality, played out against the backdrop
of the last, desperate days of the US Civil War.
But while the role of Ada was by no means an easy one to portray,
it also marked the realisation of two ambitions for Kidman, who
leapt at the opportunity of appearing alongside both Renée
Zellweger and Donald Sutherland.
The relationship she developed with Zellweger, especially, is
something the actress remains most proud of, and which, she hopes,
translates well on-screen.
"Shes just great to be around," recalls Kidman.
"We spent a lot of time together, well over two months, and
so we really got to know each other.
"And I think that just being the same age actresses, and
in the same position, as she had Chicago
and I had The Hours coming out just
when we finished making the film together, so it was really strange
timing, coming together and being able to share and help each
other in the movie. I hope that friendship comes through, as its
one of the things were most proud of."
As for screen veteran, Sutherland, Kidman could think of no one
better to portray her father, and is equally pleased to have had
the opportunity to work with him.
"I have a crush on him," she confessed. "He has
a lot of stories because he has been in some of the greatest films.
"Id just sit there and say tell me about Klute, tell
me about Jane Fonda, tell me about Dont Look Now, how did
you shoot that love scene in Dont Look Now, what was Julie
Christie like? Hes very open and a wonderful actor and has
incredible knowledge, in terms of books, and he was very willing
to share, and I just adored him. I was so glad he was playing
With the role of Ada now behind her, and talk of Oscar nominations
for at least one of her three upcoming movies, it is little wonder
to find that Kidman is turning to comedy for her next project.
"I just finished The Stepford Wives, and we hope its
a comedy," she announced, with a laugh. "Scott Rudin,
who produced The Hours, said you need to go to Summer camp and
Stepford Wives is going to give you Summer camp. But I tell you,
comedy is a lot harder."
Right now, however, Kidman has plenty of reason to smile. She
followed up the London press conference with the Royal Premiere
of Cold Mountain, in Leicester Square, the same night, before
flying back home to Australia for the Sydney-based premiere, at
which she was handed the keys to the city.