"Rabbit Hole" shoot a harrowing time for Kidman

Thu Dec 9, 2010 6:44pm EST
 
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By Drew Tewksbury

NEW YORK (Back Stage) - Death can overthrow the status quo that a family relies on. Death creates a new kingdom that a grieving family inhabits, and it is here, in the world without a loved one, that families learn to exist and to move on. Welcome to the new normal.

Director John Cameron Mitchell explores this "world without" in "Rabbit Hole," based on David Lindsay-Abaire's heart-achingly raw play about the death of a child. The director of "Shortbus" and "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" has never been afraid to delve into taboo subjects, and "Rabbit Hole" strips death naked, revealing the reality of grief, sorrow, and recovery with unabashed honesty.

Nicole Kidman plays the stoic Becca, a mother who tries to forge through the emotional devastation of losing her 4-year-old son, Danny. Alongside her husband, Howie (Aaron Eckhart), she tries to shed her conflicted emotions -- rage, denial, hopelessness, apathy -- and ultimately learns that each person's recovery is distinct and unique.

Kidman bravely plunges into the role, drawing from her own personal experiences -- including the recent birth of a child with husband Keith Urban -- to make Becca nuanced and real. She expresses Becca's emotions with her whole body. Her anger courses up the musculature of her neck, her hands twist like winter tree branches as she heaves with tears.

Kidman recently discussed living in a house with the cast, finding a studio to back their film, conjuring up gut-wrenching grief, and how her character infiltrated her dreams.

BACK STAGE: THIS FILM IS BRUTALLY HONEST ABOUT SUCH A TABOO SUBJECT. WHAT INTERESTED YOU ABOUT THIS SCRIPT?

Nicole Kidman: I think the intimacy of it. It was really raw, and I just felt that it was very real and delicate. The way in which the scenes were written and the emotions were handled were not histrionic. People have said that it feels very "real." And that, as an actor, is something that you want to hear. I think that someone said that it was like watching your neighbors, like you're peeking through the window at them and watching, hoping that they'll get through it.

BACK STAGE: WHEN WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT YOU READ IT?   Continued...