Nicole Kidman stars in “Queen of the Desert,” taking on the titular role directed by highly acclaimed and multi-awarded German filmmaker Werner Herzog. The movie also stars Robert Pattinson and James Franco.
Kidman takes on the true-to-life character of Gertrude Bell, an archaeologist, a linguist, and the greatest woman mountaineer of her age. Born into a prominent and wealthy family in England, a brilliant woman who, along with T.E. Lawrence (of “Lawrence of Arabia”), was a highly influential figure in English foreign policy, and most known for assisting in the creation of today’s Iraq. Growing up, she was preoccupied with becoming a highly-intellectual student and through her family’s wealth, was able to travel across the world. “Queen of the Desert” chronicles the life of Gertrude Bell, an English traveler, writer, archeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the twentieth century. It was in Baghdad in 1921 when she drew the boundaries of the country that became Iraq.
In sweeping, sumptuous and great vistas, “Queen of the Desert” director Herzog shared in recent interviews on how he decided to helm the project, “Because, when I saw the letters and diaries of Gertrude Bell, hearing her voice and reading her voice, I immediately knew this was big. It was so big that I had to accept this challenge. And the vehemence in which this great figure came at me was what decided everything. And on casting the actors, Nicole Kidman is the ideal. She gives a performance that is unprecedented. I have not seen anything like this at least in a whole decade from any actress in any film. So it’s of a phenomenal caliber. It’s easy to say you take a star that has a certain market value… No, it’s not like that. There has to be chemistry. If there is no texture between actors, you end up with a stillborn baby. And her texture with James Franco and the chemistry with Damien Lewis, I knew it would work. And it does. That’s a key to casting.”
Earlier this year Kidman spoke about working with the filmmaker and said that a protective environment is unique. “I call it Werner World,” she said of being directed by him. “Werner World is just a different realm. It’s glorious. I said to him, ‘Werner, I feel like I’ve been in a dream with you for the past two-and-a-half months, and now I’ve got my feet back on earth.’ I’m at a place where I’m so interested in exploring things and going places that I haven’t been. I want my life to be full, so that means all of us—my family—up and moving to Morocco and doing this so we can have the experience.”
Kidman as Bell in the movie who is also considered as the female Lawrence of Arabia, worked with Emmy-winning genius costume designer Michele Clapton, who is also responsible for the tragic wedding looks on “Game of Thrones.” Although, for this Werner Herzog-directed Middle East-set epic, Clapton was challenged with creating just one outfit that Kidman wears throughout the entire movie. “Which must be a really hard thing to do,” she admitted, about the tricky costume selection process. Despite her lack of wardrobe options, Kidman was impressed with Clapton’s work on the movie. “Her future is bright, let’s put it that way,” the Oscar-winning actress said. “She’ll go on to winning more than Emmys, I predict.”
“Queen of the Desert” opens on March 2 exclusive at Ayala Malls Cinemas.