Monday, May 21, 2012

Owen and Kidman as Hemingway and Gellhorn

SOMETIMES, in this business, you have to do things you don't want to do -- deal with unpleasant people, write about a production that bores you to tears. Other times, you get to talk to Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman about Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, the strong-willed war correspondent who would hate to be remembered at Papa's third wife.

Later this month, HBO will broadcast a film, Hemingway & Gellhorn, about the two writers and their ferocious love affair against the background of the churn of world politics. Here is my story, for which I interviewed the two actors as well as Philip Kaufman, director of The Right Stuff and The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

"There was this five-, six-year tussle with her," Kaufman told me. "It's a very mythical kind of relationship they had: She's a Hemingway heroine. The problem being: Is that what he really wanted in real life?"

I expected Kaufman and Owen (whose Children of Men is one of my favorite movies) to be intelligent and articulate. But Kidman really impressed me -- she had more depth, seriousness, and curiosity to her than I would have guessed. It's the business of an actor to be likable, unpretentious, etc -- but you can't fake smarts.

In any case, be curious what my readers make of the film, which uses a number of different film stocks to recreate the feel of several different eras.

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