CANNES - Nicole Kidman is back in Cannes for the third year in a row, but this visit may be her least memorable. The Oscar winner stars as cinema icon Grace Kelly in the festival's opening night film, "Grace of Monaco," and the early reviews have not been good. Throw in the fact that Kelly's family has announced they are boycotting the picture and, well, you have to give her credit for being willing to appear before a throng of global journalists at the festival's kick-off press conference.
"Obviously I feel sad, because I think that the film has no malice toward the family or in particular toward Grace or Rainier," Kidman said regarding the boycott. "It's fictionalized. It's not a biopic. There is an essence of truth, but with a lot of these things you take dramatic license at times. I understand also because they are their mother and father, and I understand the protection of the privacy of their mother and father. It's awkward is what it is, but I still have respect and I want them to know the performance is done with love. And if they ever did see it they would see there was an enormous amount of love for the love of their parents."
Kidman, who appeared on the Croisette in 2012 with Lee Daniels' "The Paperboy" and as part of Steven Spielberg's grand jury last year, says she initially reacted with "goosebumps" to the idea of playing one of Alfred Hitchcock's legendary muses. On the challenge she noted, "It was such a great opportunity in my career and I am always looking for things that put me on a high wire, and this was one of those roles."
There was a significant amount of archival footage at Kidman's disposal, but she found the material surrounding Kelly's initial announcement and her journey across the Atlantic the most intriguing and helpful in guiding her performance.
"[Before she leaves] she does a press conference [where they even ask her] about the nationality of her children, and I found that really fascinating," Kidman said. "She was with all the journalists. They were all traveling together on the boat. She had her pets and her family and it was unusual and kind of extraordinary. And the extraordinary celebration in Monaco when she arrived."
Kelly turned down offers to return to Hollywood after marrying Rainier, effectively choosing royalty over cinematic stardom. Kidman says she wouldn't think twice about choosing between love and her acting career.
"I would hope there are some other things I can do," Kidman said laughing. "I would find something else to do. But I think love is the core emotion. And I've certainly existed without that in my life. I've always said when I won the Oscar I went home and didn't have that in my life and that was the most intensely lonely period [for me]. It's strange, for me, my professional highs have coincided with personal lows. I'm hoping someday I can have a professional high and personal high, but I'm not sure that's possible. Once you have children, the love of a parent, you have the emotions of being able to die for somebody. To be able to power that emotion is the greatest love there is. As soon as you hit that your whole life changes."
After a re-negotiation between The Weinstein Company and "Grace's" producers announced today, it appears the film will eventually get a US release and audiences will be able to judge its critical merits for themselves. A member of the press put Kidman on the spot and asked her if she was on this year's jury, how would she judge the picture? No matter what her true feelings about the project, Kidman gave the only answer she could.
"What would I give this movie? Come on. Palme D'or!"
The conference broke into laughter and for just a few moments Kidman was off the hook.
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