'Hemingway & Gellhorn' Debuts in Cannes and on HBO: Kidman & Owen Talk Sex and Hemingway's Boots

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by Maggie Lange
May 9, 2012 4:02 PM
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"Hemingway & Gellhorn"
Philip Kaufman's "Hemingway & Gellhorn" will premiere out of competition in Cannes before its Monday, May 28 debut on HBO. It stars Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen as the titular pair, as well as Peter Coyote ("Erin Brockovich"), David Strathairn ("Good Night and Good Luck"), Molly Parker ("The Road"), and Parker Posey ("A Mighty Wind").

"Hemingway & Gellhorn" recounts the love affair between equally formidable war correspondent Martha Gellhorn and literary master Ernest Hemingway as the pair cover the Spanish Civil War, travel to China, Cuba, and battle in the bedroom.

In addition to a promo clip in which the stars talk about building their characters (posted below), Kidman and Owen graced the May cover of "W" and answered questions about acting, sex scenes and doing justice to literary masters. The full interview is here, with highlights below:

Owen on filming intimate moments:

It’s much harder to do a death scene. You’ve got to do it convincingly, and it’s a huge thing to die [laughs]. Sex scenes are only hard if there’s no narrative conveyed through the sex scene. In the Hemingway film, the sex scenes have a story going through them. It’s part of who these people are and what they are.

On researching Papa Hemingway:

The incredible thing about the house, which his wife donated to the Cuban government, is that the moment he died, they locked the place down... I got in Hemingway’s home, and everything is still there. His clothes are in the closet. His books. His typewriters. His coats are still hanging in the closet just as he left them…. Everything! I tried on his boots. I don’t think I’ve ever done anywhere near as much research for any part. It was hugely enjoyable to walk around hearing Hemingway’s voice in my head.

Kidman on Martha Gellhorn:

I knew nothing about Martha, but I’ve always been drawn to unique women who are willing to take on the world. The exciting thing about this film is that you see her discovering her nature. At the beginning, she’s a lot of talk. She knows that she’s either got to get her hands dirty and become what she pretends to be or she’s a fraud. In the end, Gellhorn out-Hemingways Hemingway.

And her relative shot heard round the web on nude scenes:


I don’t mind being naked. Maybe as I get older, and now after having had a baby, it might be different, but I enjoy not letting my issues get in the way of a performance. Once I start putting all my little insecurities in my mind, I’m not actually acting. Then it’s about me—and it should never be about me. It should be about the character.

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