Endurance is a big part of any actor’s toolkit, with film sets notoriously the sort of place where you spend a lot of time waiting for work to start or continue. And that was certainly true for Nicole Kidman in the 1990s, seeing as one of the best Nicole Kidman movies of that era still holds a world record for the length of the shoot. The best movies require the best actors and the most stamina.
Kidman joined forces with her then-husband Tom Cruise and the legendary director Stanley Kubrick for the 1999 psychological drama Eyes Wide Shut. It’s seldom lauded as one of the best Stanley Kubrick movies, but it’s underrated when it comes to its unique tone and undeniable atmosphere.
Notoriously, the production was a bloated and constantly expanding challenge for all involved, driven by the complex story and by Kubrick’s perfectionism. Guinness World Records recognizes Eyes Wide Shut as the “longest constant film shoot” ever, running for more than 15 months with an unbroken run of 46 weeks in there.
Eyes Wide Shut follows Kidman and Cruise as a fractious married couple, with him driven to paranoia by fears that she has had an affair. As a result, he finds himself at a masked orgy, and it only gets weirder from there to be honest.
There are myriad stories of the strange, intense environment on the Eyes Wide Shut set, with Kidman and Cruise deliberately kept apart a lot of the time in order to heighten the sense of alienation. Famously, Cruise wasn’t allowed on set while Kidman spent six days filming sex scenes with a nude model for a dream sequence.
Eyes Wide Shut is certainly one of the more bizarre entries in the careers of both Kidman and Cruise, but that discomfort and weirdness is very much present in the movie. It makes it divisive, but it also makes it better.
Kidman is back on our screens soon for the Aquaman 2 release date. Meanwhile, read about the costume so brutal that Nicole Kidman broke three ribs and learn what we thought of one of her best recent roles in our The Northman review.