What a relief, Nicole Kidman's controversial new film The Paperboy is good!



00:30 GMT, 25 May 2012

Dangerous territory: Nicole Kidman stars in The Paperboy

Dangerous territory: Nicole Kidman stars in The Paperboy

Nicole Kidman did her own hair and make-up and was paid a bargain-basement price of $65,000 (about 41,500) for her controversial new film The Paperboy, in which she plays a trailer-trash Brigitte Bardot lookalike who gives Zac Efron the most unlikely shower.

‘It cost me money to do the film,’ she told me, ‘and I was happy to do it, because it’s the kind of dangerous part I want.’

The least the Oscar-winning star had ever been paid before is $200,000; the most, $17 million.

The $65,000 fee she received is a Screen Actors Guild minimum for a starring role in a feature film. If The Paperboy, directed by Lee Daniels, goes on to enjoy box-office success, then Nicole will benefit from a share of the profits.

So far The Paperboy has divided critics at the Cannes Film Festival, where the picture was having its gala world premiere last night.

I heard a few people spit out the word ‘disgusting’ as I left yesterday morning’s preview screening, while others cheered and applauded it.

It’s a lurid, Southern, gothic thriller, set on the edge of a Florida swamp town and shot as though a dirty piece of gauze had been placed over the lens.

To be sure, the film takes us places I would rather not go. But, jeez, cultural life would be unbearable if movies and plays reflected only the rosy side of life.

It’s great to be hit with what I term ‘Hey, Martha’ moments, and there are a few in The Paperboy, particularly the scene where Nicole, in a bikini, squats over Zac Efron’s jellyfish-stung body and urinates over him.

All star cast: John Cusack, Nicole Kidman and David Oyelowo at the screening of The Paperboy during the 65th Cannes Film Festival

All star cast: John Cusack, Nicole Kidman and David Oyelowo at the screening of The Paperboy during the 65th Cannes Film Festival

It’s a fabulous, in-your-face scene and I witnessed a real-life version in the Caribbean many years ago (in case you’re wondering, urine supposedly eases the pain of jellyfish stings) and people just went on with their business.

Seeing Nicole Kidman do it, though, is prime ‘Hey, Martha’ territory.

Earlier on, Nicole’s character, Charlotte Bless, who’s trying to free a convicted killer from jail so she can marry him, rips her pantyhose and teases the inmate to his own intimate satisfaction.

It’s an outrageously wonderful film in the Southern tradition that people are going to be arguing about well into awards season.

Michelle's on song

Director Rufus Norris hot-footed it from showing his sublime debut film, Broken, at Cannes to cast former EastEnder Michelle Ryan as his leading lady for Cabaret.

The actress, who starred as Zoe Slater in the BBC1 soap and also played the Bionic Woman on U.S. television, will play Sally Bowles opposite Will Young’s master of ceremonies when the show begins performances at the Savoy Theatre in the autumn. ‘It’s one of those roles that’s like a gift,’ Michelle told me.

She’s a mezzo soprano who studied singing and dancing, although, strictly speaking, Sally isn’t supposed to be a great singer.

Michelle's on song

‘I was doing my research and reading up on Christopher Isherwood’s early books.

‘Sally is quite delusional. She’s not the best singer, she’s not a performer, but she has this kind of spirit that takes her through it all,’ Michelle noted.

She saw Norris’s earlier West End version of Cabaret and loved how dark it was. Norris pointed out he’s not simply replicating that earlier production.

‘It’s a total recast and it will be substantially different,’ he explained.
He told Michelle it was important that he cast an actress who would be able to locate Sally’s heartache.

British actress Gemma Arterton at the 65th Cannes Film Festival

British actress Gemma Arterton at the 65th Cannes Film Festival

‘He was quite adamant about that,’ says Michelle, ‘and I said: “I can do it, I can do it!’ Michelle said she originally studied singing and dancing.

‘I wanted to be a musical theatre artist — that’s where I saw myself at 15.’ But straight acting took her away from her dream until now.

In the boxing film The Man Inside, which is due out in July, she plays a character who sings.

‘I had to get my voice up to scratch for the film,’ Michelle says. ‘I’ve been working with a voice coach for two years, so you could say that when Cabaret came along I was ready.’

And the West End is ready for her musical theatre debut.

Arterton in line for Buckley bio

Gemma Arterton is in talks to play one of the women in the life of the late rock star Jeff Buckley.

The actress — who has done everything from appear on the London stage to playing the title role in Stephen Frears’s film Tamara Drewe and being a Bond girl in Quantum Of Solace — is negotiating to be in the film Mystery White Boy about Buckley’s life and career.

Gemma, who was spotted at the lavish Vanity Fair party held at the famed Hotel du Cap’s Eden Roc restaurant, would play a character who represents the partying women in his life, while Olivia Thirlby would stand for the more responsible partners with whom Buckley enjoyed relationships.

Director Jake Scott has already cast Reeve Carney, who played the lead role in Julie Taymor’s Spider-Man musical on Broadway, to portray Buckley, who drowned accidentally 15 years ago aged 30.

Carney has been rehearsing using Buckley’s music, and those who have heard him have been impressed by his ability to match Buckley’s vocal range.

If Arterton does go ahead with the film, which is still in the process of being financed, she’ll be joined by fellow Brit Harry Treadaway (who has been in New York doing music rehearsals with Carney).

Treadaway will play Matt Johnson, Buckley’s first drummer. It’s an instrument Harry is well acquainted with having portrayed Steve Morris, the drummer for Joy Division and New Order, in the movie Control.

Buckley’s album, Grace, and the posthumously released Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk, will be featured in the film, which is expected to shoot in New York and Memphis.