Nicole Kidman defends Grace of Monaco biopic

Nicole Kidman defends Grace of Monaco biopic despite early poor reviews of the film.
Australian actress Nicole Kidman poses as she arrives for the Opening Ceremony and the screening of her film “Grace of Monaco” at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 14, 2014. Loic Venance / AFP photo
Australian actress Nicole Kidman poses as she arrives for the Opening Ceremony and the screening of her film “Grace of Monaco” at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 14, 2014. Loic Venance / AFP photo

Nicole Kidman defended her new picture Grace of Monaco after a critics’ mauling at the opening of the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday, but admitted a boycott by the princess’s family was “awkward”.

Kidman, 46, stars as the American actress turned European royalty Grace Kelly in the French production kicking off the 12-day extravaganza, which generated serious off-screen drama ahead of its red-carpet premiere.

Critics howled after an early preview, with Britain’s daily Guardian calling the picture a “breathtaking catastrophe” while industry magazine The Hollywood Reporter savaged a “stiff royal soap opera that drags where it should dazzle”.

Kidman gave her maligned director Olivier Dahan a little squeeze as she faced the press with a smile.

When asked about the decision by Grace’s children, Prince Albert II and his sisters Caroline and Stephanie, to angrily dismiss the film this month as “totally fictional”, she said she hoped they would still watch it one day.

“Obviously I feel sad because I think that the film has no malice towards the family or in particular towards Grace or [Prince] Rainier,” she said.

She acknowledged that the filmmakers had taken liberties with the facts in their tale of Grace’s role in quashing palace intrigue and resolving a dispute with France that threatened the tiny principality’s independence.

“There’s the essence of truth but with a lot of these things, you take dramatic licence at times,” she said. “But I want them to know that the performance was done with love and ultimately if they ever did see it, they would see that there was an enormous amount of affection for both their parents, and the love story of their parents.”

Kidman, who bears a remarkable physical similarity to the statuesque Grace in the film, said she watched old newsreel footage and classic Kelly movies such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window to prepare for the role.

“She was really, really smart with an enormous passion for life and curiosity,” Kidman said. “She fascinated me and still does and obviously she fascinates the world.”

The Hawaii-born Australian actress said she could identify with Grace, who turned her back on Hollywood for the sake of her family.

Asked whether she would give up acting for love, Kidman said she would in a heartbeat.

“I’ve never had to but I would, absolutely. I wouldn’t even think twice about it,” she said.

Kidman said her biggest career triumphs, such as her 2003 Academy Award for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours, had coincided with heartache, presumably referring to the lingering pain from her 2001 divorce from Tom Cruise.

“That was the most intensely lonely period of my life,” she said.

“I’m hoping one day I can have a professional high and an emotional high, personal high. I don’t know if that’s ever possible.”

Kidman joked that her current husband, Nashville singer Keith Urban, was her “country prince” and said their two daughters had given her the “emotion of being able to die for somebody”. “As soon as you have that selflessness, your whole life changes and everything gets put into perspective.”

Dahan, whose 2007 portrait of singer Edith Piaf La Vie en Rose won Marion Cotillard an Academy Award, had stridently defended the film against interference by the powerful US distributor Harvey Weinstein in an ugly public spat.

He told reporters he and Weinstein had reached a truce which will allow the film to be screened in the world’s biggest film market, and said he was within his rights to embellish a few historical facts.

“It’s a portrait, it’s never been a biopic in my mind, from the very beginning,” he said.

“We’ve tried to make a complex movie but very accessible [at] the same time.”

Published: May 15, 2014 04:00 AM

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