Home Drama Nicole Kidman on playing a real person in ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’

Nicole Kidman on playing a real person in ‘Hemingway & Gellhorn’

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Hemingway & Gellhorn - Nicole Kidman
Assured magazine writer Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) ©2012 HBO

It’s very unusual to see Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman in an original movie on TV, but that’s exactly where you can catch her, in HBO’s Hemingway & Gellhorn, which begins its run on May 28th.

Kidman portrays war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, whose passionate affair with novelist Ernest Hemingway is considered one of the greatest romances of the last century. The movie follows them through the Spanish Civil War, where Martha Gellhorn admits, ‘We were good in war, and when there was not war, we made our own!’

Can you talk about Martha’s relationship with Ernest Hemingway and what kind of mark he left on her?

Hemingway & Gellhorn - Nicole Kidman
Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) ©2012 HBO

I think Martha found her voice when she was with Hemingway. He was a big part of helping her to, as he says, ‘Get in the ring and start throwing some punches for what you believe in.’

The great thing about Gellhorn was that she was the first female war correspondent, and she wrote about people’s lives, and she wrote with such direct truth. That’s hard to do.

You see, during their relationship, her formulating who she is as a writer – she’s not Hemingway.

She didn’t want to write novels. She wanted to be a correspondent. And I love that she was the first woman to really do that.

You see in the film, her on the frontline, you see her hands bloody, and she was able to feed that back to America and the world. She was a trailblazer.

Can you compare playing a real person to a fictionalized character?

Hemingway & Gellhorn - Clive Owen
Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) ©2012 HBO

There’s a lot of research like doing the homework before the exam. You want to have the well of information. And then it’s trying to find her essence.

Not to be a caricature, but to find what was the beating heart of her, and try to be true to that rather than the physical mannerisms.

Can you talk about doing the love scene with the bombs going off around you?

Hemingway & Gellhorn - Nicole Kidman
Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) ©2012 HBO

It really emphasizes that they came together through war. They fed off that drama and that energy in a way. Two people that would make love through a building collapsing, that says something about who they are.

That’s why I think that scene was important, because you really see that this is where they’re most comfortable, their most passionate, and that’s where their love thrives.

I’m sure Hemingway and Gellhorn would have found it bizarre that a film was made about their lives so many years later. How would you feel if a movie were made about your life 50 years from now?

No. Please, no. I think the reason of being an actor is that you like playing other people’s lives. I think having my life be as private and quiet as possible is a way in which I can go and play characters.

I like the privacy of my life, and I protect it quite vigilantly.

Hemingway & Gellhorn - Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen
Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman) and Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen) ©2012 HBO
HBO’s webpage on the TV film Hemingway & Gellhorn which stars Nicole Kidman along side Clive Owen can be found here. You can also read our interview with Clive Owen on Hemingway & Gellhorn and other Nicole Kidman features by checking out our Related Posts listed below.