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Screenwriter Robert Towne tailored the script to fit Nicole's background: She played a young Australian resident neurologist at the Daytona Beach Hospital who treats injured race-car driver Tom Cruise and falls in love with him. "I was very excited, the opportunity is so rare for an Australian actress to appear in a big American commercial film. I just didn't want to blow it. We filmed for five months down in Daytona Beach, beginning in November 1989. I did a lot of hanging around and waiting. Tom, of course, was in practically every scene, and shooting was halfway over before we started getting to know each other."
Tom was a married man, and he denied any romantic involvement with Nicole, whom he described as just a pal and acting colleague. On the surface, at least, his three-year marriage to actress Mimi Rogers appeared tranquil. Paparazzi had staked out her Daytona Beach apartment like circling sharks, and they STILL do!
She arrived on Tom's arm as his date for the 1990 Academy Awards ceremony. Tom's divorce to Mimi became final in April, during the last weeks of making Days of Thunder. Nicole and Tom moved in together after the film, and has been a couple ever since, dispite many irritating and invented "so called" paparazzi stories.
Director Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer) heard the talk about Dead Calm, screened it and thought Kidman would be perfect for a starring role in his next movie. He reached for the phone, and a few weeks after Nicole finished Days of Thunder, she was off to New York City. There she successfully auditioned for her most significant part yet, costarring with Dustin Hoffman in Billy Bathgate. She plays the ravishing, mysterious Roaring Twenties socialite Drew Preston, who dated gangsters for kicks.
"I was four inches taller than Dustin Hoffman," Nicole says, smiling, "and he loved it. Dustin played Dutch Schultz, a cold-blooded killer and gangster who towered over everybody - at least in his own mind - including his five-foot-eleven-inch girlfriend, yours truly."
On December 24, 1990, they married in Telluride, Colorado, in a ceremony so secret not even the National Enquirer's helicopter could find it. Perhaps because it was shrouded in so much mystery, the wedding became a beacon for outrageous gossip. "When we married, part of our promise to each other was that we'd never be separated for more than two weeks. It was a lovely wedding, in the snow, in a cute little house we had rented. Aside from family, we had only a few close friends at the wedding, like Dustin Hoffman and his wife. And it took several weeks before our secret got out."
Nicole and Tom next starred together in the beautifully filmed Distant Shores, or as it later was renamed; Far and Away. It was the first film in many years to be filmed in 70mm.
In the thrilling Malice, we could for the first time see a darker side of Nicole, as a femme fatale, she stole the show as a from Alec Baldwin and Bill Pullman. This proved that she could do roles other than as the passive victim. The drama-comedy My Life, saw Nicole as a hightly pregnant wife to Michael Keaton, which she pulled of with conviction.
After My Life she went back to school at New York's famous Actors Studio where she learned The Method technique of acting and "basically just changed my whole life". Her new approach has brought her back, she says, to what she had been doing in Australia, "which was working on small films in interesting roles."
Next, she beat out the likes of Sandra Bullock to star in Batman Forever, as the licentious Dr Chase Meridian, a criminal psychiatrist who's itching to analyze more than Batman's dreams. "She's constantly trying to seduce him. She wears black slinky dresses, has perfect hair, perfect red lips, and talks in a deep, husky voice." "I've had my eye on her since Dead Calm," director Joel Schumacher said. "You meet a lot of beautiful people in this business, but there's something almost luminous about her. I wish I had a clause in my contract that said Nicole Kidman had to be in every one of my movies." Actually, she almost didn't make it into this one. Originally, Rene Russo was cast for the part, but when Val Kilmer replaced Keaton at Batman, the fortyish Russo was reportedly deemed too old to play the love interest. In any event, Kidman plunged into the part, training with a coach to prepare for her fight scenes and even studying a few Batman graphic novels.
Having gone on to weather more than her fair share of middling parts, she picked up the script for To Die For and discovered Suzanne Stone. Preparing for To Die For required a slightly different reading list. Based on Joyce Maynard's novel, the black comedy has Nicole playing a small-town TV personality who'll do anything to get ahead - including persuading her teenage lover to kill her husband. To get into the spirit of the role, Nicole sequestered herself in an inn in Santa Barbara for three days, glued to the tube, soaking up trashy talk shows. She also began speaking exclusively with an American accent. "I don't like the feeling that when the camera starts rolling, you're suddenly performing, so I spoke in my American accent from the minute we started rehearsal to the minute we finished the movie."
"I found it very Funny, and of course ironic, in the sense of who I am. I saw the burnout in playing a character who's obsessed with celebrity. It was just one of those parts which you read and go, 'Wow'."
There was, however, one small problem. The producers wanted Meg Ryan for the role, and didn't automatically see Nicole for the part. "Gus Van Sant, the director, didn't know my work, so I had to put myself on the line. I thought, 'Well, he's probably not going to cast me, but I may as well give him a call and the least I can do is just talk to him.' We talked for an hour, and I told him it would be a chance for me that no one's given me in America. He cast me over the phone. He's renowned for bucking the system, and I appreciate that."
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