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THE MOVIE: Australia

THE STARS:
Nicole Kidman • Hugh Jackman
DIRECTOR: Baz Luhrmann

Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman THE CONCEPT:
During World War II, English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Kidman) travels to Faraway Downs, a cattle farm in Australia, to confront her philandering husband – her reluctant guide is Drover (Jackman), a rough cattleman. When Sarah discovers her husband has been murdered she tries to save Faraway Downs, which she has inherited, and joins forces with Drover to drive 1,500 head of cattle across Australia, in order to beat a cattle baron whose intention it is to steal her property.

U.S. RELEASE: November 26 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: tba

THE COMMENTS:

Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann, Hugh Jackman
BAZ LUHRMAN:

“Nicole is an extraordinary physical reality because she is terribly willowy and tall. She’s like a thoroughbred, and there’s an electricity that just shimmers through the room. For the first time she said a leading man (Jackman) could walk in the room, basically pick her up in his arms and stand next to her one on one [because he’s so tall]. She felt she was in the arms of a great dance partner.”

HUGH JACKMAN:
Hugh Jackman“I’ve known Nicole for a long time, but it wasn’t until this film that we truly got to know each other and became friends. Nicole is an amazing person to work with, there’s a kind of danger about Nicole, there’s always going to be something surprising. Baz quite likes sunsets and kissing, so we ended up kissing quite a lot and that’s not the toughest day at the office, but it’s never particularly comfortable making out with someone in front of 70 people. That’s not really something that turns me on.”

NICOLE KIDMAN:
Nicole Kidman“This is the film I’ve wanted to make since I was a little girl. I grew up watching Australian actresses like Judy Davis in My Brilliant Career and Angela Punch McGregor in We of the Never Never play wonderful characters in stories set in our country, and I dreamed of making a film here that had the passion and weight of those movies.”

JACKMAN:
Hugh Jackman on his horse“There were some descriptions of the horse riding in the script. I remember one that said, ‘Drover thunders across the outback, chasing a beast. He catches up to the beast, leaps off his horse, grabs the beast by the tail and wrestles it to the ground.’ At which point, I thought, ‘I’ve got to get some lesson here.’ [he laughs] and I did. Actors lie about horse riding. That’s the old joke, they ask, ‘Can you ride a horse?’ so you say, ‘Oh, absolutely! Since I was a kid.’ But this was something where the character’s name was The Drover. If the movie was made here [in America], you’d call him the Cowboy. For me, when I watch a great rider, there’s something beautiful about watching them, they’re more themselves and more at home on that horse than anywhere else, so we [practiced] everything from jumping to cutting cattle.”

LUHRMANN:
“In the film, when there is a stampede, Hugh is on that horse in the stampede, he’s galloping at a hundred miles per hour through all those cattle. When you see that horse caught by that rope, Hugh threw that rope and he caught that horse. I bet people think, ‘Nah, it’s a stuntman.’ No, not in this movie, that’s him on the horse, he did those things and I will go out of my way to expose how real that is on the DVD, because I just appreciated the effort.”

KIDMAN:
“In this world, it’s the people you’re connected to, the people you love and are loved by, who help determine who you are and what you become. When you realize that, I think you find peace, and that’s what happens with Sarah. Even though she feels like she’s fighting against the world, she is at her most authentic and true because she realizes that she has something to fight for.”

JACKMAN on being voted by People magazine the Sexiest Man in the World:
“We ran a very strong campaign. I’m not proud of it. I can admit it now. We’re the first campaign to run a negative campaign, we’ve spent years bringing Clooney, Pitt, Damon, McConaughey all down to size, and I was prepared to do absolutely anything. (he laughs) I never thought it would happen, and all my mates never thought it would happen, and reminded me about it. My son Oscar is eight, and he goes, ‘You? You’ve gotta be kidding me!’ I thought, ‘Ain’t that the truth!’

KIDMAN:
Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman“I now have really seen the magic of what we have here [in Australia]. And I do mean magic. The intoxication of it is powerful. There’s something in the air, the earth and the nature of the people that just captures you, and before you know it you’re part of the land.”

LUHRMANN on how he thinks the movie will be received in America:
“When I was young there was this genre of cinema where you laughed and cried and you swooned and there was action, and it was all in one big banquet of cinema that everyone could come to. And that’s considered deeply un-cool now. If we get a strong [showing over Thanksgiving], I hope people will tell their friends, ‘Trust me, I think this is some hours in the cinema worth spending.’ That’s all we’ve got going for us.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Twentieth Century Fox
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #701, December 2008 cover

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