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Nicole Kidman’s hoping to stoke some terror in the hearts of filmgoers
A rare, established Hollywood star who’s frequently drawn to unconventional, artsy projects in between more conventional gigs, Kidman’s latest off-kilter collaboration is with Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook (“Oldboy”). “Stoker” (in theaters Mar. 1) is a disturbing psychological thriller that explores the chilling secrets lurking deep within twisted family bonds.
Without giving up any of the masterfully crafted, visually potent film’s twists and turns, Kidman reveals her taste for the unnerving.
On her attraction to the material:
“For me, primarily it was the combination of the cast and being spearheaded by director Chan-wook Park. I knew his films and I wanted to work with him. I just thought the combination of this script with his direction would be really unusual. I saw it for the first time at Sundance I was like, ‘Wow!’ which is a great reaction to have – a good wow, not a bad wow…I’m not sure what genre it fits in to. It’s hard to define it. But I was amazed at the filmmaking. You don’t see that kind of filmmaking that often. It’s very, very layered in the metaphors that he uses.
The hair scene, I had no idea. He’s just like, ‘We’re just going to shoot brushing your hair.’ And then I see the film and I’m like, ‘Oooh – that’s amazing.’ But that sort of detailed filmmaking is really hard to do and not have it be pretentious and have it really tell the story, which is what you’re taught in cinema is the language of images and dialogue. You really should be able to make a film with no dialogue and tell a story, and I really think director Park should do that next.”
On what she responded to in her acclaimed director’s distinctive style:
“I think the strength of director Park is his atmosphere. He creates incredible atmosphere and this script relies heavily on the language of the images because there’s not a lot of dialogue, and so the cinematic language of it has to be very, very strong. When I had a meeting with him, we talked about all of that and it was just extraordinary how detailed and precise in what he knew he wanted to say it with. And his use of color and sound and everything is all very specific and it’s not by chance. And that’s something that really kind of fills in a lot in a script like this.”
On taking direction from Park, who speaks English but also employs a translator on set:
“There are times when you have to clarify words, because obviously particular words mean certain things. And so a lot of times it would be me just going, ‘Is this exactly what he wants?’ Because in translation, things can get lost. So I was just very specific with him.”
On her take on her character, who exists at a chilly distance from her daughter:
“I actually don’t think that Evie’s evil. I feel like she’s just starved for love and she’s got a child that she doesn’t connect with. Park, when we first met, said to me, ‘Ever since you’ve held this baby, this baby’s never wanted to be held.’ And that’s an amazing way to start building the relationship of a mother and child because that’s horrifying as a mother if your baby doesn’t want to be held by you.
The thrust of her is this child that she’s had just doesn’t connect with her and so she’s always trying to in some way connect. I mean, obviously that’s gotten broken down over years and years and India had a much stronger connection with her father, so that was fascinating to me. And then also, I sort of came up with my own thing in terms of she’s just very starved for love and that creates a particular personality after a while – being starved of being touched and held.”