French actress Jeanne Balibar and Nicole Kidman share the media stage at the Cannes Film Festival Photo: Richard Mowe
There was a close empathy between Nicole Kidman and the late Grace Kelly which only came to the fore when she was easing into the role of the Hollywood icon who gave up being an actress to become the spouse of Prince Rainer.
“But if I had to then love would come first. I wouldn’t think twice about it. I would simply find something else to do. Love is a core emotion and there have been times in my life when I had to exist without it. I remember when I won the Oscar but I had no-one at home to share it with. That was the most intensely lonely moment of my life.
“It’s strange but the greatest highs in my life have frequently collided with personal lows. It is almost impossible to have simultaneously a professional high and personal high. Once you have children you have the love of a parent and the love they give in return. You have the emotion of being able to die for someone. As soon as this hits you, your whole life changes.”
Kidman, looking radiant and coolly collected, said that the Cannes Film Festival held a particular place in her affections. She has spent more than a decade attending the event and has been a regular visit over the last three years. “Being on the jury last year was one of the most amazing and best two weeks of my life,” she smiled.
She revealed that she had been a long-time Grace Kelly fan. “My favourite Hitchcock film and my favourite film with her in it is Rear Window. What came across from the films I watched and also the newsreel footage from the time was her cool exterior, but her enormous passion for life and insatiable curiosity. Everything she did was fuelled by that. She was a major film star and had won an Academy Award and she was still in her Twenties.
“If you are a creative person there is always a pull between your professional and your persona life. I did discover many similarities with her life and mine although, of course, I did not marry a Prince.”
Clearly mindful that she might have slighted her husband the country star Keith Urban she corrected herself quickly: “Actually I did marry a prince …a country prince.”
Kidman has had roles based on real life characters previously but she did not want to feel “trapped by having to mimic her. The fact that it was all shot here in the south of France rather than some Hollywood studio added to the feeling of authenticity. “The gowns and the jewellery from Dior and Cartier certainly helped to create her persona and enormous thought was put in to that side of things.”
Asked whether she was disappointed that the Grimaldi family had taken against the film, she replied: “There was no malice intended towards Grace or the family. There is the essence of truth in the film but we took dramatic licence for some of the encounters. I can understand their sensitive position because we are talking about their mother and father. I want them to know that the performances were done with love, and we show an enormous amount of affection towards them.”
Grace Of Monaco is to be released in the UK in June / France and other European territories from tomorrow.