The Irish Mail on Sunday


- by Chris Hastings

ARADIANT and relaxed Nicole Kidman is holding court in the luxurious grounds of the six-star Hotel du Cap in the South of France. In just a few hours’ time the Oscar winner’s controvers­ial new movie about the life of the late Princess Grace of Monaco will open the Cannes Film Festival – and receive the sort of critical drubbing which would cause most A-list stars to go into hiding.

But if the Moulin Rouge and The Hours actress is feeling the pressure from the furore surroundin­g the film, she isn’t letting it show.

In fact, the 46-year-old mother of four is determined to confront the controvers­y head on, and in one of her most personal interviews to date she reveals how:

She regrets turning down a chance of face-to-face talks with Princess Grace’s family about the film.

She lets her musician husband vet her film roles and would turn her back on Hollywood if he asked her to do so.

She turned down the starring role in the acclaimed Holocaust drama The Reader because she didn’t want the film’s harrowing story to ‘penetrate her baby’ while she was pregnant.

Speaking just hours before Grace Of Monaco’s glitzy premiere on Wednesday, Kidman admitted she was nervous about the film’s reception but also said she could identify with a woman trying to live a normal life in a ‘gilded cage’.

She was also indebted to Thierry Fremaux, director of the Cannes Film Festival, for choosing it as the festival’s opening film.

She said: ‘I was nervous, because I am always nervous, but at the same time it was nice when someone was finally embracing it [the film] because there has been an enormous amount of controvers­y.

‘Thierry was very, very strong in his support of it, which I am so appreciati­ve for. He was willing to go out on a limb for it and that’s enormously helped the film.’

Grace Of Monaco has been dogged by controvers­y ever since it began shooting. Grace Kelly’s son Prince Albert, who is the current ruler of Monaco, and his sisters Princesses Stephanie and Caroline have dismissed it as ‘needlessly glamourise­d’ and ‘historical­ly inaccurate’.

Even Olivier Dahan, the film’s acclaimed French director, has distanced himself from the final cut of the movie which he insists is the work of the film’s distributo­r Harvey Weinstein. While Kidman will take comfort from the fact that her own performanc­e has attracted some favourable reviews, there is no escaping the hostile reaction to the ‘lamentable’ script.

One critic described the end product as so wooden ‘it is a fire hazard’. But Kidman, whose other big-screen credits include Cold Mountain, The Others and Eyes Wide Shut, insists that as the film’s star she can’t get involved in the rights and wrongs of a particular project.

She said: ‘If I was producing the movie, it would be a different thing. My loyalty has to be to the film and the director. ‘Everything else, I am not that privy to. Whether they are protecting me or not telling me, that’s OK. I’ll stay in the bubble. You can’t get involved in all those things operating around a film when you are acting, because that takes the energy away from the performanc­e.’

KIDMAN admitted she can understand why Monaco’s ruling family may have concerns and only regrets not tackling those head-on. ‘They invited me for lunch, but I was shooting six days a week and I had my small children and my mother and my aunt. I couldn’t take all these people. Now subsequent­ly I wish I would have gone, because I would’ve been able to explain to them the intentions.’ She added: ‘It’s very threatenin­g if someone plays your mother. But I would hope that they would know that there was an enormous amount of respect and love behind everything that was done.’

Kidman said working on the film had not only provided her with new insights into the Princess’s life but had made her realise just how much she had in common with her. Grace Of Monaco begins in 1962 when the former Hollywood actress Grace Kelly had been married to Monaco’s ruler Prince Rainier, played by Tim Roth, for six years.

The couple’s fairytale romance which once enchanted the world has now been replaced by a marriage strained to breaking point. The Princess feels trapped by her royal life and longs to make one more film with her old mentor Alfred Hitchcock.

In one of the film’s most poignant scenes, she confides: ‘I don’t know how I am going to spend the rest of my life in a place where I can’t be me.’

Kidman said: ‘I knew all her films. And I knew that she married Rainier. What I didn’t know was that the transition from American

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