Stoker as a film is hard to put a finger on. It is gorgeous. It is powerful. But overall… it is a rare jaw-dropper where the audience never sees the curves coming. Star Nicole Kidman sat down recently to talk about her stunner and what it was that compelled her to appear in the film as the ice queen of mothers... perfectly captured in the Stoker poster.
“I'm not sure what genre it fits in to. It's hard to define it. But I was amazed at the filmmaking. You don't see that kind of filmmaking that often. A lot of the stuff I hadn't seen because I'm not in it. So even the scene in the playground, I was just like, 'Wow,' with the way she climbed up the slide,” Kidman said.
The Oscar winner was drawn to its multifaceted feel -- shown off in this Stoker clip -- and the cerebral context that paints a picture of a family torn apart by suspicion, violence and a feel that is utterly loveless.
“It's very layered in the metaphors that he (director Chan-wook Park) uses. The hair scene, I had no idea. He's just like, 'We're just going to shoot brushing your hair.' And then I see the film and I'm like, 'Oooh, that's amazing,'" Kidman added.
As teased in the Stoker trailer, the Australian actress portrays the mother to Mia Wasikowska's India and as the film starts, they are burying the family's patriarch. Enter a suspicious uncle, played with panache by Matthew Goode. Soon after, everything gets quite placidly tense -- which is astounding to watch.
Kidman was clearly drawn to play in director Park’s playground. “I knew his films and I wanted to work with him. I just thought the combination of this script with his direction would be really unusual. I saw it for the first time at Sundance last week and I was like, ‘Wow,’ which is a great reaction to have -- a good wow, not a bad wow,” she said and laughed.
But we wondered if there were any language problems collaborating with someone who barely knows English and only speaks Korean. “There are times when you have to clarify words because obviously particular words mean certain things. And so a lot of times it would be me just going, ‘Is this exactly what he wants?’ Because in translation, things can get lost -- so I was just very specific with him,” Kidman said.
"But that sort of detailed filmmaking is one) really hard to do and not have it be pretentious and two) have it really tell the story which is what you're taught is that cinema is the language of images and dialogue. You really should be able to make a film with no dialogue and tell a story, and I really think director Park should do that next.”
The actress admitted that the most delicious scenes to film actually involved eating! “For me, I loved the dinner scenes. I loved the scenes around the table because there's humor in them as well," Kidman said.
"I actually don't think that Evie's (Kidman's character) evil. I felt like she's misunderstood. I feel like she's just starved for love and she's got a child that she doesn't connect with. Director Park, when we first met, said to me, ‘Ever since you've held this baby, this baby's never wanted to be held.' That's an amazing way to start building the relationship of a mother and child because that's horrifying as a mother if your baby doesn't want to be held by you," Kidman said.
Some may call Kidman's Stoker matriarch an ice queen, and many may even go so far as to use the word "evil." Kidman doesn't see it that way. "I think that's the thrust of her is that this child that she's had just doesn't connect with her and so she's always trying to in some way connect."
"I mean, obviously that's gotten broken down over years and years and India had a much stronger connection with her father," she added.
"So that was fascinating to me. And then also, I sort of came up with my own thing in terms of she's just starved for love and that creates a particular personality after a while -- being starved of being touched and held. She's not evil.”