Well, I was in the play version of Closer too, and when we did the play, people walked out almost every night [laughs]. They seemed to find me repellent.
Don’t be ridiculous. Closer was full of intense sex
scenes—and so is Hemingway & Gellhorn, your movie for HBO,
which airs May 28. Do you prefer doing sex scenes or scenes in which you
It’s much harder to do a death scene. You’ve got to do it convincingly, and it’s a huge thing to die [laughs]. Sex scenes are only hard if there’s no narrative conveyed through the sex scene. In the Hemingway film, the sex scenes have a story going through them. It’s part of who these people are and what they are.
In the movie, the aspiring journalist Martha Gellhorn meets
Ernest Hemingway—who is married—in Key West in 1936. As they
begin their affair, he encourages her to become a war correspondent.
They eventually marry, and for four tempestuous years travel the world
in search of war zones. Did you know about Hemingway before you started
As a writer, he doesn’t have the same impact in England as he does in America. I spent five, six months doing research. I went to his house outside Havana, Cuba. The incredible thing about the house, which his wife donated to the Cuban government, is that the moment he died, they locked the place down. They don’t usually let people inside, but they set it up for me. I got in Hemingway’s home, and everything is still there. His clothes are in the closet. His books. His typewriters. His coats are still hanging in the closet just as he left them.
Did you try them on? Did you read his books?
Everything! I tried on his boots. I don’t think I’ve ever done anywhere near as much research for any part. It was hugely enjoyable to walk around hearing Hemingway’s voice in my head.
I liked the way you-as-Hemingway wrote. He typed standing up,
his typewriter placed on a tall chest of drawers. And he attacked the
keys with a great intensity.
We wanted the writing to look virile. After writing a page, Hemingway would let it float to the ground. He never crumpled pages—he believed that if you crumpled them, you’d be insane in a year. He could also drink all night—legendary amounts—and then every morning at 6, he’d be up and would write for six hours straight. After that, he’d start drinking again.
And you did the same?
Absolutely! [Laughs.] Research!
Lynn Hirschberg: In Hemingway & Gellhorn, you play Martha
Gellhorn, the war correspondent. The film chronicles her relationship
with Ernest Hemingway, which was often its own particular battlefield.
What attracted you to this project?
Nicole Kidman: I knew nothing about Martha, but I’ve always been drawn to unique women who are willing to take on the world. The exciting thing about this film is that you see her discovering her nature. At the beginning, she’s a lot of talk. She knows that she’s either got to get her hands dirty and become what she pretends to be or she’s a fraud. In the end, Gellhorn out-Hemingways Hemingway.