In the beginning of Hemingway & Gellhorn, your character
says, “I was probably the worst bed partner on five
continents.” And yet, in the rest of the film, she and Hemingway
have immense sexual heat: They are constantly going at it.
The sex was very important in that relationship because that’s the way she cuts Hemingway off. When Gellhorn says, “I don’t like sex,” it’s her way of saying, “I’m not based in sexuality; Hemingway didn’t have power over me. That’s not where I came from.”
Having said that, the sexual attraction between them was powerful. I kept asking Phil Kaufman, the director, “Is all this sex important for the story?” I wanted to make sure he wasn’t just getting off. But these were two people who could make love when a building was falling down around them. They had passion.
Gellhorn was also very strong-willed. As an actress, do you need
to have that kind of toughness in your life?
My husband [country singer Keith Urban] says I’m raw. He thinks the world is not a great place for me because he fears that I’ll be hurt. He says, “That’s my job: I’ll protect you.”
Your husband just had throat surgery to repair damaged vocal
cords. He couldn’t speak for three weeks. What was that
Three weeks of no sound—no laughing, no coughing, no sneezing, nothing. He could write things down, and he would scribble away. You can still fight when someone can’t talk. When he disagreed with me, he would write, “This is unacceptable.” [Laughs.]
Was it strange to not talk?
All of those things make you closer. It was sort of profound: to go without his voice, and then to finally hear his voice. What if he sounded different? I was there for his first words, and then we cried. How many people experience their husband’s first words? If that doesn’t bring you closer, you’re not breathing.