ABC’s Cynthia McFadden Convenes Cast of Stars to Talk About Life on Set of New Film
For the first and only time, “Nightline” got the entire cast of upcoming movie “Nine” together at New York’s legendary Plaza Hotel for a feisty and intimate conversation. Anchor Cynthia McFadden led the actors — Sophia Loren, Daniel Day-Lewis, Penelope Cruz, Dame Judi Dench, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard and Fergie — and director Rob Marshall in a discussion of the new film, life backstage, eating habits, the pain of rehearsal and more. The following is a full transcript of the interview.
Cynthia McFadden: So first of all thank you all for coming, and I thought it would be appropriate to start with a toast to Fellini who inspired this film.
Rob Marshall:That’s lovely. Thank you [all raise their glasses].
Marshall: Sophia knew him.
McFadden: Yes. So would he approve?
Sophia Loren: I think he would, yes, of course he would approve. Yes.
McFadden: You think so?
Loren: Yes, absolutely. Cheers.
McFadden: What was he like?
McFadden: Yes. I read that he was rather self effacing and shy, true?
Loren: Well it depends on what kind of people he was meeting. But otherwise he was somebody that was very open. He was a great artist because he drew very well. He did things for children, characters for children wonderfully, and that’s how he started in this business. And then he um, he, uh, he started to be very much in love with cinema and he met Alberto Sordi and he started with him and he did a wonderful picture with him that was very, very, very successful.
McFadden: Was Fellini also a Casanova?
Loren: He pretended to be.
McFadden: Is that better or worse than being one, I don’t know—
Loren: No, no no. But that’s it’s not fair what I say. He pretended to be for what I saw, for what I hear. But really I don’t think so.
McFadden: [to Daniel] So you studied Italian to play the part.
Daniel Day-Lewis: So I’m told.
Marshall: Everyone is saying that you spoke Italian.
Day-Lewis: I know, I know.
McFadden: Did you?
Day-Lewis: What else did I do?
McFadden: You tell me.
Day-Lewis: I didn’t study Italian, no. I mean I studied it in as far as I prefer to know more of than less Italian while we were working on this but I am certainly not an Italian speaker, yes. I understand quite a lot.
McFadden: You didn’t speak in Italian the entire time on the set, that’s all just, bad reporting?
Marshall: Yeah, because I wouldn’t have understood a word he said. He speaks, he has a beautiful Italian accent, he speaks beautiful Italian, but it wasn’t, that wasn’t something that we did because we were making this film in English. The truth is, what was nice is there is Italian throughout, pieces of it, which gives it a flavor which was great.
Loren: Yeah, but when I spoke Italian he understood what I was saying.
McFadden: Did you?
Day-Lewis: I think so.
McFadden: Is Guido the man that every man would like to be or is he not. I mean do you think men really aspire to that kind of& fantasy. Or is he, or you know, what do you think. Judi?
Dame Judi Dench: He is the man he wants to be and women in their fantasy may well want that kind of man. Most of us do [little laugh]. I mean we have a long, long relationship Daniel and I, for 30 years or so, so he is everything that Guido is to me is everything that Daniel and Guido have completely fused to be the same person. I’m off to Italy next year to just look around for him.
McFadden: That’s some bad news for your wife, but OK, I’m hearing you.
Fergie: But Guido’s very tortured though, I don’t know if every man would wish to feel that way, constantly having that dilemma between the Madonna and the whore and all of that and you know I certainly know men like that and my advice is you want to work with them, they’re genius, but you don’t want to date& and uh, that type of man.
McFadden: Do you have any personal experience?
Fergie: Yes. Yes.
[everyone laughs a lot]
McFadden: Would you care to elaborate.
McFadden: Marion, what do you think? Is Guido something men aspire to be and Guido is just charming enough and talented enough to be able to pull it off, at least in his mind?
Marion Cotillard: Well, I’m close to what Fergie just said. I don’t know& I don’t know if you want to be—can you be Guido, that’s the first question. Can you be this man, this creator, this artist, this&maybe about his relationship with women, maybe men want to have that, but I don’t, no, I don’t think so. With all my respect to Guido and all my love I don’t think—but, actually, you know I’m thinking, which men, which man men would like to be and I have no answer. So, it might not be the right sentiment.
Kate Hudson: I would actually like to say something, because when I saw the movie just as a female watching it I felt like watching Guido and how he saw each woman and what each woman represented, and I thought Rob did this amazing job of, every woman here is specific in their own sensuality and their own sexuality. He casted it very specifically what each woman would represent to Guido and when you watch the film all these women have something that Guido thinks he needs. And as a comment on men and what men think they need from women inevitably it all comes down to who you are. You know, who the man is. We’re not going to help him, his temptations and his ideas of what a woman should be or what he needs from that woman. He has to figure that out for himself. Um—
McFadden: But do you think that’s what men want? I mean if they were being honest about it. Is the fantasy—are Guido’s fantasies the fantasies men have?
Hudson: Well, I mean—
Dench: Some men. Yeah.
Hudson: Men like sex. I mean—
Hudson: You know, I mean in terms of that, that’s what I think. That’s, in my small, short, 30 years& I mean no, I think, I think, I think, yeah, I mean, fantasy is wonderful. It’s wonderful to have fantasy. It’s wonderful to dream up things that you want. And sometimes, you know—
Marshall: We meet this man in crisis, that’s the thing. This is man who has been trying to spin these plates for so many years and it just doesn’t work anymore, that’s the problem, you know, all these∧ I think Louisa says it so beautifully when she says he’s just an appetite, you’re an appetite, you want so much and you can’t have all that.
McFadden: He wants to be everything, have everything—
Marshall: Yeah, but you can’t, you can’t—
Loren: Yeah, but the most wonderful character in the film, I mean, is the wife, of course, because the wife has to cope with the genius like Fellini’s and she is a woman too and she is an artist too and how can she cope with everything that is wrong with Fellini. It’s a very difficult role she plays.
McFadden: So Penelope, in your experience, are all men really nine?
Penelope Cruz: Well just to continue to talk about Guido and my opinion on that, I think he is, even if every man would dream about being Guido he is a very special human being. He is one of those people that you know when you are around him you are going to be at a high risk, because if they are happy you are going to be happy. If they are sad, they enter a room and they have an effect on everybody else. Because they are these big personalities—
McFadden: Do special rules apply then, if you’re that kind of person.
Cruz: Well, he has to face the same lessons in life and he has to get to a point in his life where he has to make some decisions and make some choices and the movie talks a lot about that, about how even someone like him that can get away with so much because people allow him to get away with a lot because he is that special, in the end he is confronted by the rules of what life is for all of us, for everybody.
McFadden: Nicole, is that how you see it?
Nicole Kidman: What was the question?
‘Can’t I Just Listen?’
McFadden: I don’t know, I have no idea. Is Guido, do you think—when men go to the movie and they see this film are they going to say “A-ha! That is what I want too.”
Kidman: Um, well, I mean part of making a movie is it should be a little bit beyond what we have here, so it’s a little heightened. And it should make all of us, I think women will go see it and say I want to be her and her and her and her and her. But um, at the same time, I think also, when you talk about men and all of those things, we’re all individuals and we all have different things and this is a particular man, um, and—
McFadden: So you don’t think this is—
Kidman: One of the lessons in life is learning to want what you have. And I think that’s probably what Guido has to get to a place of going I want what I already have, instead of I want, I want, I want, what’s beyond.
McFadden: So Daniel, do you think this is sort of the male fantasy?
Day-Lewis: Can’t I just listen to everyone?
Day-Lewis: But what, what—I don’t really understand that, going back to what Rob and Marion were saying, that you discover a man who is having a very profound crisis in his life, so the degree to which he actually derives pleasure from the satisfaction of the appetite he has I think is very limited. Maybe also you discover someone at a stage in their life when they feel their powers are waning and maybe your appetite somehow increases in response to that but you’re looking for nourishment in the wrong places. So it’s not, I don’t think, for all that you see him having moments of pleasure within the story, the prevailing sense that you have is of a man who is running helter-skelter from his own, from his very own self and kind of has to be shepherded back to confronting it.
McFadden: Is it all mama’s fault?
Day-Lewis: [turns towards Loren] It is all your fault.
Loren: I knew it. Yes, it’s the story of my life.
Fergie: Yeah, Guido definitely has some, mommy issues—
McFadden: Mommy issues.
Fergie: Yeah, yeah.
Day-Lewis: What a joy to be messed up by that woman. Can you imagine?
Loren: I try to make my son as I would like him to be, I’ve tried to adjust his life the way I would like it to be. I try to help him in the moments of despair, I try to be close to him as much as I can. But sometimes there comes a moment that I cannot help him anymore because he has to go on his own and he has to decide himself what he wants to do with his life.
Marshall: Beautifully said.
Loren: Il capito!
Day-Lewis: She has a point.
McFadden: That brings us back to you [turns to Marion Cotillard]. The wife, the long suffering wife. I mean, what is their relationship? They were once in love and now they’re not?
Loren: No, no, no.
Cotillard: Oh, yeah, I think they’re in love, I think it’s just when you’re lost you don’t know who you love, you don’t know who you are, you don’t know what to do, you don’t know where to go. Um, and I think Louisa just tries to wake him up. To& to tell him that to be an artist you just have to have a life, because that’s where you find inspiration.
McFadden: Well he was having a little bit too much of a life.
Cotillard: Dedicated, yeah. It’s, I remember when I prepared the movie I watched this documentary of Frances Ford Coppola [inaudible] now and it’s his wife that has done this documentary and you can see her sometimes in some footage and you can feel the, yeah, the dedication to a man, uh, and it’s, I think it’s a beautiful relationship when you are, you’re not, you don’t sacrifice anything, you just find your place, helping someone to create. I think it’s beautiful.
McFadden: Well, but she gets squashed in helping him create.
Day-Lewis: I don’t, I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think, and certainly not the way Marion plays her, um for all that she’s a victim as far as you feel the pain that she’s, that she’s caused to suffer by that man, but absolutely she is not a victim in the deeper sense because she is completely independent, she’s very strong, and quite clearly she understands him better than anybody else and his salvation finally is to probably realize that she is his partner in the truest sense that she understands him, she recognizes him.
McFadden: But there’s that scene at the dining room table, in the restaurant right, where the priest says, oh but you’re a great Catholic wife because you’ve sacrificed everything for him.
Day-Lewis: That’s just the priest’s point of view.
Cotillard: I think that, you know, when you make choices in your life and sometimes you choose love and I don’t think she, she put aside her career because, and also life is in a constant movement so when you put something aside it’s maybe not forever. You just have to, well they spent many years together and it’s a turning point because, not that she’s, I mean she understands that Guido needs to desire. He desires Claudia and nothing happens between them. What she can’t understand is the lie; the lie, because the lie cuts the connection between these two people who are in love with each other.
McFadden: Well it’s an interesting idea, though. Does love mean fidelity? Because he’s certainly not faithful.
Day-Lewis: But isn’t that for every couple to decide within their own relationship? Because we tend to sort of assess people in the marketplace now, it’s like this marketplace judgment, acts of contrition, penance and so forth, but truly the only, the only real ethical decision you make are between you, your own spirit and the person closest to you or the people closest to you that those decisions might affect.
McFadden: Well Penelope is certainly not happy with your choices in the movie, she tries to kill herself, right?
Cruz: No, Carla is really in love and upset with Guido and she’s very addicted to this relationship and what he means for her in her life, he does not want to let that go. And she’s not a victim of Guido, either, she’s equally responsible. She’s also& I think betraying someone else because her agreement with her husband, I don’t think he’s happy with that, but that’s where she wants to be and she cannot let that go. It’s her drug.
McFadden: So is nobody right and nobody wrong in this? There are no—
Marshall: Well it’s not working, that’s the thing. What he’s created, the lies and all of the women that he’s been with and so forth, looking for some kind of satisfaction to help him heal. It’s not working. It’s not working, so you see a man who is actually falling and you know, so timely you see these incredibly powerful figures who are fallen because they can’t keep that up. It’s doesn’t last long. And so what is beautiful about this story is that it’s about a man learning to begin again in a different way. In a purer way.
McFadden: I’m interested in the way women are seen in the film. [To Daniel] Who do you like best? Who are you most in love with?
Day-Lewis: Listen, you’re not going to get away with that, no, no, no.
McFadden: Who is really—
Loren: The wife, the wife.
Day-Lewis: I will tell them each individually after the show’s over.
McFadden: Yes, they said it was a very happy set. Now we know why. No, seriously, to him, who is the most important of the women.
Loren: Fellini would say the wife.
McFadden: The wife. What about the mother?
Day-Lewis: [reaches over and touches Judi Dench] The wife and the pal.
McFadden: The pal?
[Everyone screams out different names]
Day-Lewis: She tells him what things are, the inspiration, the mother, everything.
Dench: You’re going to have a busy afternoon, Daniel.
Day-Lewis: That’s the problem. If you could just mash them all into one single being [laughs]
McFadden: [To Judi] So, what do you think? Who’s the most important one?
Dench: Well, he, he, Guido loves them all for different reasons. You know, he’s three quarters in fantasy and that’s what the dilemma is, isn’t it? That he’s spinning out of truths, it’s what Luisa, you know, is saying. Why didn’t you face reality for goodness sake? And he has now become, you know, a man who has spun out of kilter in a way. And so um, who—it doesn’t matter really who he loves—he doesn’t love anybody better than anybody—does he? — no, he doesn’t love anybody better. But you know, we all—
Fergie: He loves himself the best. [laughs]
Dench: –as you know we all have a different relationship with him, and he because of the very nature of the film that’s how you understand that.
Kidman: No, I want him to love his wife the most.
McFadden: You want him to love his wife.
Kidman: Yeah. Of course.
Hudson: That’s what I was just going to say, I was going to say that, yeah.
Kidman: I don’t want him to love any of us. Just his wife.
Cotillard: Well, when Claudia says she wants to be the man she, it’s a beautiful way to also tell him, see the reality, because he sees all these women just one way, where as there are many faces, women, and when she tells him I want to be the man, because this is where it’s interesting. This is like, look at you, look at who you are, how you see things, and here’s the reality. It’s, I mean, they’re all so important in his life.
McFadden: So what do you think she means when she says I want to be the man? [to Nicole]
Kidman: Everything Marion just said. But I mean, it’s, but also, part of that is also what my character is saying to him is you don’t even know me, you are in love with something that is over here that’s our creative love affair, but it’s not me, which is why I then say, wrong girl, because you don’t know the flesh and blood me. And that’s fine for that to exist like that as a creative love affair because I think that’s how artists work together, which is why Marion said that’s nonthreatening because it’s in some other place that’s&
Hudson: It’s also a level of narcissism which is when you’re truly narcissistic you only perceive what you perceive, you’re not really seeing what it is, do you know? And that’s, you can’t& you know, and then what you do as a narcissist is then you create, you create your perception.
McFadden: So he can’t really love any of you, can he?
Hudson: Not until he loves himself.
Fergie: Well, yeah. But he’s actually very selfish in all of this.
McFadden: Right, I mean, he takes what he wants from each one of you, which is why I thought you said you wanted to be the man, which is all of the rest of you are being used for his own purposes, but finally you’re saying hold it a sec, let me be the one who’s purposes are served.
Loren: But he would have never lived without his wife, never. He treated her in a very nice way. He was so nice with her, he was so much apparently in love with her.
McFadden: But not in the movie, is he? Do you think that’s nice?
McFadden: Because I have to tell you, if I were married to him, I would not be so happy.
Hudson: I second that! Me too.
Kidman: I agree, I wouldn’t be happy.
Day-Lewis: No, if that’s not clear then that’s our mistake. It should be clear that yes.
McFadden: Well you love her but you’re screwing around like crazy!
Hudson: [to Cynthia] OK, let’s get to your stuff. Let’s talk about your own stuff. Let’s talk about you. Because you’re revealing a lot right now, you’re revealing a lot about yourself.
Marshall: Cynthia, there’s a term that we’ve used, and actually Maury Yeston who wrote this piece, he calls Guido a serial monogamist, because he loves these women individually in a very true and real way and he wishes—but I will remind, this is a cautionary tale.
Marshall: This is not, we are not glorifying this man, it’s a cautionary tale about a man that—
Kidman: Who’s struggling—
‘There Is a Fellini in Every Man’
Marshall: –wants all that and it’s unrealistic, it doesn’t work. And if you do want all that then you are left alone.
Marshall: And that’s what ends up happening, everyone leaves him alone and leaves him.
McFadden: His wife at one point says, you are not capable of love.
Marshall: In a matter of speaking. Yeah, and so does Claudia [role played by Nicole Kidman] in a way. She says, as he’s describing the character in the film, he says to, you know, she says, and this man you describe does not know how to love.
McFadden: So do we like him?… Ladies? Director?
Marshall: I mean for me, he’s so, well, I think we all understand him and invest in his story because of that.
Hudson: Well, you recognize the crisis. I mean you recognize this man is struggling with who he is and what he represents and what he’s going to create and you recognize these things in him. No matter what, no matter what anybody’s faults are, Guido, you want to root for his work.
Loren: There is a Fellini in every man. In a way.
McFadden: But he’s using everybody. Badly. Isn’t he?
Fergie: That’s why you work with him and you don’t date him.
Marshall: Can I just say one quick thing about this cast for myself, just because we’re here. I have to say, you know, it was such a joy every moment with this cast. I couldn’t believe we had assembled this amazing group, and you know one of the joys of doing a musical on film is you get to rehearse. And we had weeks of rehearsal and we had two weeks of prerecord and everybody was working together to do something very difficult. Most of us hadn’t really done, or had done but hadn’t done for years or whatever and we were all climbing this mountain together and I have to say the joy of being together and this past week has been incredible because it’s a very special, special group of people.
Kidman: Here, here! [raises glass]
[everyone raises glasses]
McFadden: So is it possible—[people still drinking and everyone laughs]
McFadden: So&is it possible to have too many stars in a picture? I mean, is it possible to have so much star power that you can sort of sink the project through the weight of it all?
Marshall: That, you know, I have to, I’ll just say briefly, that was never the intention. It was only to cast the greatest actors that could play the roles. That was it. That was my only intention and it just ended up happening piece by piece that this developed. But it was never that. It was who can play these roles. And I didn’t know at first. We started casting before we started writing. I mean, Marion auditioned for Judi’s role—
McFadden: — just like Guido!
Marshall: Yes. Marion auditioned for Lily.
Marshall: Yes, because she’s French and the song is Folies Bergere, I thought well maybe Lily will be something else in this version. On stage she was a producer, not a costume designer.
Loren: But I was always the mother.
Marshall: You were always the mom.
Marshall: This was the first call.
McFadden: Was it? Was Sophia Loren the first call?
Marshall: Of course. My heart was beating out of my chest.
McFadden: Well did you give him a hard time?
Marshall: She was immediately lovely.
Loren: No, no, no. — [cross talk] I loved it so much—
McFadden: No? So what did you say.
Loren: since the beginning. No, no, no. I was in love with him—[cross talk continues]
McFadden: — let me hear the phone call, hello?—
Loren: No, no, no, no. Absolutely.
Marshall: — I was in love with her&.I thought I was going to die. I called her and said—
Loren: And I came to see you on the set right away.
Marshall: Yes you did and that was beyond. It’s just, you have to understand, do we know who this is? You know, this is, there are only a few that live in this world and this is one of the greatest&
Loren: Doo-doo-doo-doo-doo [singing to herself]
Marshall: Anyway, I, she knows I—
McFadden: Does that make you uncomfortable [to Sophia]?
Loren: Very, very, comfortable.
Loren: Not uncomfortable, no no no.
Marshall: I told her I couldn’t do the film unless she said yes, and she said yes.
Loren: Yes, right.
Loren: Yes, yes. Without reading anything.
McFadden: So were the rest of them that easy?
Marshall: Well the great thing was they all—
Loren: Also because—he knew that I sang, so—
Marshall: Yes. Exactly.
Loren: Beautiful voice [laughs]
Marshall: Yes it’s beautiful. Have you seen House Boat?
Loren: Zhou Bisou Bisou.
Marshall: Yes. Zou Bisou Bisou, famous Zou Bisou Bisou. Yes. You know, I have to say, everybody wanted to be a part of this, it wasn’t—one of the joys of this for me wasn’t having to sort of convince people really, it was, maybe slight exception to the man at the end of the table [everyone laughs].
McFadden: The girls were easy, the guy wasn’t so.
Marshall: Well it was just because Daniel you know likes to try things on for awhile. He said to me, I could think about this for a year, you’re going to have to tell me when you need to know. Because we met a zillion times, I practically lived at his house.
‘I Have Never Seen an Audition Like That’
McFadden: So why? Why did it take you so long to decide this was the project for you?
Day-Lewis: Um& well just from a purely practical level it wasn’t a good moment for me to go back to work because we just, we had just been home schooling our boys for a period of some months whilst Rebecca was making a film and so we’d all sort of decamped for a period of time, for me to then go away and do something straight away, we couldn’t keep them out of school any longer, so from just a purely practical level it wasn’t. Plus I’m always looking for excuses [laughs]. Once I’ve tried all the excuses and I can’t find one, I know that [laughter] I mean—
Marshall: My favorite moment with Daniel was the day, the day I left, our last meeting, I was in the kitchen with Daniel and he kept bringing up other actors’ names, they would be great, they would be so much better than me. Why don’t you cast, blah blah blah, and I would just say, I don’t like that person! He was really—anything he could.
McFadden: Did you have everyone else cast at that point?
Marshall: Almost. Daniel weighed in on a few people. On Kate.
Day-Lewis: I weighed right in on Kate. [laughs]
McFadden: I guess you got a yes.
Marshall: He loved that idea.
Hudson: I go, Daniel, yes!
Marshall: So that was very exciting. Fergie had not been cast. Fergie came in to London, auditioned in London. I have never seen an audition like that in my life. I have never seen anyone want something more. To prove themselves and say this is mine and claim it and say this is my role, this is for me.
McFadden: So Fergie, tell us about that. Because it’s, I mean, listen you’re all at a point in your careers where auditioning isn’t necessarily something that happens.
Fergie: Well, I did a lot of acting when I was a little girl. And it was really bad acting. I had no idea what I was doing. And at around the age of 24 I had this boyfriend and he was a thespian and I was in love with him. And so I used to go to his class. Arthur Mendoza who taught—who took directly from Stella Adler. And I went just like when I was a little girl and I told my mommy, “Mommy, I don’t want to be in the audience anymore, I want to be on the stage.” Uh, it happened again at 24. I wanted to be in the class. So I enrolled in scene study, I enrolled in Shakespeare and speech and everything and took for over a year and didn’t audition and I was just—I fell in love with the craft and finally figured out, oh this is what you do. What have I been doing all these years? I had no idea. And just held on to that basically. And this was a chance for me to use those tools that I had learned about and also get to sing this beautiful song that I get to belt out and she’s such a fun character and to work with these people—you know, these guys—[little chortle]
McFadden: These guys?
Fergie: I’ve seen, I’ve seen their faces a few times. Um, and Rob who I just am such a fan of his work. I mean I feel like the luckiest girl in the world right now.
McFadden: What did you sing for him?
Fergie: Be Italian, of course. Yeah.
Marshall: Yeah, she sang Be Italian. I mean she opened her mouth to sing Be Italian and I had to hold onto the walls it was unbelievable. And with just such guts and fearlessness. I mean that’s what we all realize, I mean everybody has that in this room. Everybody has that—fearlessness. Because this is a really hard movie to do. And it really was, and it was extraordinary. But Fergie was exactly like that—coming from a different place. I mean, Daniel talks about walking into rehearsal and hearing Fergie do Be Italian, one of the first times we were in rehearsal—
Day-Lewis: I said, can I go home now, please? [laughter]
McFadden: Well, but I thought you were the intimidating one? [To Loren:] I had heard that you had said he was scary.
Day-Lewis: Am I scary?
Loren: This phrase really is ruining me. Because not scary, you are a little bit intimidating when we have to do something together. I mean, for me, I don’t know for you.
McFadden: In what way? Why—
Loren: This is my personal—
Day-Lewis: Let’s change the subject.
McFadden: No, I’m liking this subject.
Day-Lewis: I’ll bet you are—
Loren: –Let’s change the subject.
McFadden: But why, why? Because he’s intense?
[Day-Lewis making groaning noises and others laughing]
Loren: Because he is very, very much intense. He is so intense, he’s so, so much —
Marshall: It’s like going out on the tennis court with Federer. That’s just what it is for everybody.
McFadden: No but I was going to say—ok let’s use the tennis metaphor. Do you play better when you’re playing with someone who you respect and admire and who you think might be a little bit better than you. Or do you play better when you can dominate.
Cruz: It’s always better to have someone you admire there.
Dench: It’s not about dominating anyway. [big sigh] It’s not about domination.
McFadden: OK, what? [to Judi] What’s it about?
Dench: It’s not about dominating. It’s not a match. That’s a terrible analogy to make, tennis, it’s not like that, who said tennis?
McFadden: OK [lifts her drink up] me! [others laughing]
Fergie: [amidst the laughing] That’s served to you across the table.
McFadden: Oh I picked it right up!
Marshall: [to Judi] You can say anything, I agree with anything you say.
McFadden: Hold—but just a second. You know what, you’re pretty scary, so keep going.
Judi: Oh, no, no, no. Please don’t say that.
McFadden: No, I’m teasing.
Dench: You can’t know me.
Day-Lewis: [cross talk] it’s not true. It’s not true.
Dench: But it’s not to do with a match. It’s like when you were saying before, we’re all playing parts, we’re all being another person. It’s not really to do, we draw on everything, isn’t that right? We draw on ourselves, we draw on our observation, we draw on all time what Rob says and, and, but it’s not a thing of coming out and somebody winning. It’s not to do with that. It’s to do with having a relationship with a person you’re acting and the more wonderful the person is, the more wonderful time you have because it brings out in you exactly what’s required. It means that your job isn’t so hard. Because you have it from the person standing in front of you.
Kidman: Here, here!
Everyone: Yeah Judi! Yeah! [raising glasses again]
Day-Lewis: Your job, as any performer’s job is if you’re working in a partnership with another performer is to do in whatever way you’re able to is to try and help that person, and you may be helping them only just by focusing on the work that you are doing so that you are recognizable to them in that situation, but if you were to, and I mean I must say it’s kind of, it saddens me to think that any partner might be intimidating because it would be completely—it would defeat the scene. If you intimidated a working partner during the course of a scene it would defeat the work that you are doing. It would be self defeating.
Marshall: Well, what I observed, what I observed, was um& incredible magic happening because you see the people at the height of their craft—they know what they’re doing. I have to say it’s like kids in a playground. One of the things that was important to me was to create an atmosphere where people could fail and make mistakes—
Marshall: And be terrible. Because I mean, and there were moments that were bad. [everyone laughs] But—
McFadden: None of those are in the film though!
Marshall: [laughs] No, but it’s part of the process. And that’s everything. I mean, and you have to feel safe and protected in a way so that you know you can try anything&I mean, you know, we could never have done this without the time that we put into actually creating and working on it because we weren’t ready. Everyone was training like athletes. Everyone was working so incredibly hard to get there. But there has to be a sense of play.
Marshall: There has to be a sense of that, and that’s what we all felt. A sense of joy and play and so we could mess up and get better.
McFadden: So, that’s unusual in a film to have as long as you all had to prepare?
Marshall: Oh, it’s a luxury. It’s a luxury, it’s a luxury for film to have any rehearsal and to have the rehearsal that we had. And also what ended up happening is that because you’re all together, you’re making the same film. You know, it’s not—and that’s rare. Sometimes people come in and they’re& you know, we’re all on the same page together. And supporting each other—very important. It’s amazing. Daniel was incredibly generous. He was there at all rehearsals, at everybody’s numbers watching, and everybody else was too. It was—and I think it’s also because everybody’s so different and there isn’t anybody sort of crossing over. Everyone is so unique and so different. It’s really special.
McFadden: So what—Penelope—what did you like best about making the film?
Cruz: I enjoyed every second of this experience. Since the moment I met Rob, we had a lunch in New York and we talked about the movie and then I auditioned for a few characters, right?
Cruz: And I said I’ll do whatever you want, I just want to be on that set, learning. I studied ballet when I was a little girl, like, I am a very big fan of music and musicals and I knew that if I was going to do one, the best person in the world to do one with is Rob Marshall. And the fact that we had all that time to prepare—months of training with great teachers and they choreographed the whole movie, Rob and John DeLuca. It was a really beautiful experience that we shared together that I think has created a bond because for us because it’s different from anything we have done before.
McFadden: I hear you were called “the warrior” and that you actually rehearsed to the point that your hands were bleeding.
Fergie: Oh, the ropes.
Cruz: Well they had to bleed a little bit because of the ropes, yes, yes. But I think you feel no physical pain after dancing for all those hours you get high in a good way. You go into a different state and you don’t feel it anymore. I just&
Marshall: It’s true, that’s a real dancer thing.
Hudson: Yeah, yeah.
Day-Lewis: We were working with a group of professional dancers that Rob had chosen. Each one of them very carefully and for all of us to live with and work with dancers, you understand no matter how hard you think you’re working and how strong your discipline is, it’s nothing compared to that of a professional dancer.
Hudson: Ugh, yeah.
Day-Lewis: So we had that living example in front of us every single day.
McFadden: So did you all eat really heavily—I mean take care of yourselves, like train—
McFadden: Alright, who had the worst eating habits, yes?
Fergie: [points to herself] Oh, yeah. That would be me. [pointing back and forth with Cruz and everyone laughing] Penelope and I.
McFadden: Hold it! I don’t know who—who? Who’s the worst?
Cotillard: [pointing across the table to Nicole?] You came back with a burger one day on the set and fries.
McFadden: You eat anything? [to Nicole]
Kidman: I do.
Hudson: Oh, Nicole eats.
Kidman: At six foot tall, people always go how can you eat that much? But, I&
McFadden: You pack it away.
Kidman: Yeah, but I like to um, to exercise too, but yeah I love to—
Hudson: I love watching Nicole with her cappuccinos because she spoons—she [starts to do an impersonation]—the milk and she—so I’ll see her in corners just taking the foam and [Kate continues impersonating her] and she looooves it. You can just feel her loving it so much. I love—that way my favorite.
Kidman: Well we all got to hang out a lot because we had on the set that sort of tented green room, right? Which was where we would all—which is unusual—
Marshall: It is unusual.
Kidman: But it was very, it was like a little, it was a wonderful space to just be able to—they had some couches and the craft service, and that’s where we’d all stay.
Hudson: And our dressing rooms too on the stage were sort of down this long corridor and everyone had you know, it was like an apartment complex, like a long—you know.
Kidman: But we were rarely in those, because when you would hit the set, you’d basically stay all day and never leave it.
Hudson: [cross talk with Nicole] We’d stay on the set.
McFadden: So what time—you’d start rehearsals when?
Kidman: Oh yeah.
McFadden: Like what? 8?
Kidman: Well when you’re shooting you start 5:30.
Marshall: You know, I would walk in and people would already be working, 8am, you know, and didn’t want to leave. I mean the thing was, everybody wanted more time. More time—I need more time. Right?
[everyone laughs and says yeah]
Cotillard: No, no, we were fighting sometimes, when we had the schedule for the week and I was like why am I, why those two days are off for me while everybody else is working? And they were all like, we need room and I said I don’t care about—
Marshall: And it was great.
McFadden: Arguing to work.
Cotillard: Well, not arguing. But—
Marshall: But wanting more time. And we had a great team, we had Joey Pizzi and Tara Nicole Hughes, Denise Faye and John DeLuca. I mean we had this incredible team so everybody was—
Cotillard: And Paul.
Marshall: And Paul Bogaev who was doing the musical work and you know it was, everybody did a lot of work ahead of them and they wanted the time.
McFadden: So would you all eat together? You were about to tell me a story about a lunch. [to Judi Dench]
Dench: Yes, very, very early on, before I realized we would all have lunch together, and I ordered rather a lot of food and when it came to the day they said we aren’t going to leave the set, we’re all going to have it around this table. Now that we’re all going to have it around the table, and gradually the plates came and went down in front and you know there would be four leaves and very, very small bit of smoked fish and I thought this can’t go on—and then this enormous plate, I said, I can’t possible have ordered that.
‘They’ve Got My Guilty Secret’
McFadden: Well now they all know! And it’s OK with them right?
Dench: They’ve got my guilty secret, yes.
Marshall: And how gorgeous do you look in your beautiful bustiere?
McFadden: Yes, so let’s talk about that? Did you like the costume?
Dench: Oh yes, sure.
McFadden: You still have it, don’t you? No, no, no [laughs]
Dench: I wish I had the hair though. That’s what I liked best.
McFadden: That hair was great.
Dench: My daughter’s got it now. Not the wig, but the actual hair. She’s got the same thing now.
McFadden: So, I mean, it is an unusual—it’s unusual that you’re all back together to promote the movie. That’s unusual in itself. It’s a tribute I think, maybe to the director?
Everyone: Yes, yes, yes.
McFadden: So let’s pretend he’s not here for a moment. Talk amongst yourselves.
Hudson: Well he had a bullhorn. So, [laughs] you know, because we’re on stage, so we definitely would hear things because you know when you’re performing, you know, you need somebody pushing you. So&
McFadden: Did he push you?
Hudson: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. For our number it was so energetic, I mean it was, you know, and then, you know, we didn’t really stop because we needed the energy. There wasn’t a lot of cutting—we kind of just did it like a production and doing that all day we definitely needed the bullhorn because you know to bring us back to life and keep us pushing forward.
McFadden: So how many days to shoot that incredible number?
Hudson: [looks to Rob] Two?
McFadden: Two days.
Hudson: [nods] two days.
Marshall: We were so prepared because you know we rehearsed. In some ways the numbers were the easiest things to do because they were the ones that were prepared. Everything else was something that we had to create on the day. Everybody knew what they were gonna do. It was just—I mean, we didn’t have tons of time and you had to, you know, you had to, you have to be an Olympian. You have to show up and you know.
Hudson: I remember the first time on the—doing the performance with the costume and everything and the hair and the—and then, you know you’re on this stage rehearsing for two months and then all of a sudden they’re like OK we’ve got dress rehearsal and you get out there and there’s like these huge fans, and I’m like, where did the fans come from? There’s a spotlight, you can’t see anything and you have this moment where you go, I don’t know what I’m doing and then it just—you hear Rob’s voice and it’s just like [snaps] oh, ok, this is what I’m doing. And that’s because he’s created that connection and relationship to be able to have the confidence to deliver.
McFadden: Was it fun? It looks fun.
Hudson: Yeah&it was blast.
McFadden: Great outfit too.
Hudson: Thanks to Colleen [Atwood, costume designer], she’s a genius. She’s truly amazing.
McFadden: What about for you [to Daniel], I mean all of you have worked with some of the greatest directors in the business. What does this guy at the other end of the table [Rob Marshall], what did he bring to this for you?
Day-Lewis: Rob ishe’s made of an unusual um& um& mixture of qualities because he’s, you know, we all, we all thought we were working pretty hard, the dancers we knew were working very hard, and no one worked harder than Rob. Um, nobody. And, um, and he’s absolutely relentless in pursuit of something that he feels that he’s looking for or in encouraging us to carry on looking for something he can sense that we’re looking for.
He just won’t stop, I mean, he’d still be shooting now quite honestly. [laughter] But having said that, he does it with such an abundance of love and encouragement that we’ve all been sort of completely, almost, deboned with all thatthat kind of encouragement that you very, very rarely get when you’re working.
Day-Lewis: In fact, I almost didn’t quite know how to deal with it some of the time because I’m not used to—
McFadden: Well why, what’s it usually like?
Day-Lewis: It’s, um, I think, I don’t know what everyone else’s experience is, but I mean, I’ve worked with directors I’ve had a very, very close bond with but um, one still tends to feel that, I feel very often, that I’m more or less left to my own devices to just you know discover that world and get on with it. Not that they won’t give me direction, but that it’s very much a very silent partnership, whereas with Rob he, you know, in this case, he sort of sensed our anxieties and fears which we all had and he just kept on giving us the sense that we could achieve this thing. And it’s unique in my experience anyway.
Kidman: Also, the other thing is Rob can dance pretty much any number in the film. I arrived and Kate was doing her number and was rehearsing it, and then I saw Rob climb up on the stage, and I was like oh he’s going to give her a little bit of direction or something he did the [laughs] the turns and the steps and that’s when I went—
Marshall: It’s a sad truth& a sad, tired, old gypsy.
Kidman: That’s very rare—
McFadden: [cross talk] but without the outfit! Yeah.
Kidman: When he can do turns like that, because, I mean, he’s a great dancer, so.
Marshall: Was, was.
McFadden: So does that help? Does that help to know that he’s—
Fergie: Rob and John. He could do all of the numbers better than us!
McFadden: Could he?
Fergie: Oh yeah.
Fergie: Oh, hands down.
Kidman: He can.
Marshall: No, I mean.
Fergie: Hands down.
Kidman: He can.
Marshall: I mean, when John and I created it, the work, I can only do it by actually getting up and trying and seeing how it feels and do that, and then we throw it away of course because it has to be them that does it, and you have to tailor-made it for the strength of the actress, but it’s all out of fear because you just want to make sure that you have something, you know, that works.
McFadden: Alright, who was the funniest person on the set? Who was the funniest?
Cotillard: Ah, Nicole is very funny.
Cruz: [nodding yes]
McFadden:: Nicole is funny? Hold it! Who?
Hudson: I would say Rob.
Marshall: Judi is hilarious.
Kidman: Judi [nodding].
Cotillard: Nicole, Daniel.
[a chorus of names from each of them]
Marshall: Everybody’s funny.
McFadden: Really? So was there a lot of laughing?
Fergie: I had Kate and Judi in my makeup trailer& and between the two of them I was cracking up every day.
Hudson: We had fun. We had a fun makeup trailer.
Fergie: Oh, we did.
‘I Was Not Popular at All’
McFadden: It is sort of like sitting at the, you know, the cool kids club at high school. So, I mean were you all cool when you were young?
Hudson: Oh yeah, totally. [laughs]
Kidman: You would have been, though! Kate would have been cool.
Hudson: I really wasn’t.
Kidman: No, you would have been cool.
Hudson: No, I really wasn’t. I really wasn’t. I was actually the girl& I wasn’t into school.
McFadden: You weren’t?
Hudson: No, I wasn’t into school, I wasn’t. I was out, I was the one&I was staring out a window.
McFadden: The reason I ask is because people will look at all of you and say oh, so& so easy&everything must have been just golden for them, always. Is that how it feels?
Cruz: I had a really bad perm [laughs] if that counts for anything.
McFadden: You did? A bad perm? [everyone laughs]
Hudson: I think we all& I got a perm too.
McFadden: Did you? Did everyone have the perm? Yes?
Hudson: I had two perms. I went back for more
McFadden: Were you popular?
Cotillard: Oh no I was that, that black thing in the corner. I was not popular at all. I think I was very boring¬ boring because I didn’t talk, no, no it was terrible. I was not interesting at all.
McFadden: You weren’t?
Marshall: That’s impossible to believe.
Cotillard: I thought I had no personality. So I was very& I thought everybody was so cool, and I was not. So&.you know, you think things about yourself and then you start to give a little bit of love at least enough, to enjoy life. But I was, oooh.
McFadden: Did you have a boyfriend?
Cotillard: Back then? Phhf. No.
McFadden: What about you, Penelope? Boyfriend back then? Were you like one of the girls that all the boys wanted to go out with?
Cruz: In high school or when I was younger?
McFadden: High school, junior high.
Cruz: I was five when I went home to my mom and I said, “Mom, I have a boyfriend.”
McFadden: OK, so the boys liked you.
Cruz: No, I don’t know. I liked them.
McFadden: [to Nicole] What about you as a kid?
Kidman: I was taller than all the boys. So, I had crushes on the boys they just didn’t have crushes on me. [shrugs her shoulders]
Kidman: Yeah&but then I remember getting a boyfriend who was older than me, who took me out from his motor bike from school. That was pretty cool.
McFadden: Judi? What about you?
Dench: Well when I was at school cool was a word rarely used. Cool is a word that my grandson uses sometimes to me. Sometimes. On rare occasions&perhaps three times in the last 12 years.
McFadden: Well, did you have a boyfriend, were you popular?
Dench: I had a boyfriend but not until&well, sort of, in our brother school—who, we were two Quaker boarding schools. And this very nice person said, “May I walk you back along your corridors?” And I said, “Yes, that would be absolutely wonderful.” So we walked along and it was very windy and my coat kind of blew open, like that, and he just went like that to stop my coat from going. And then you have to cut for years later when I was in the theater and this person, whose name was Christopher Malcolmson, came round and he said I have a letter in my pocket that you have to see. And in this letter was “Dear Christopher, I can never walk back with you along the walls again as you have touched my coat.”
McFadden: [To Fergie] What about you as a young&? You were on the student council, I read somewhere.
Fergie: Oh yeah, both my parents were teachers. So that was a big deal in my school. I was in honors classes and it was about a positive reinforcement system in my house. You know, if I wanted to make those phone calls to the boyfriend, I had to get the grades. Yes, and I fell in love every year. I was so boy crazy and every year there would be a different one, and I was madly in love with them and I just& I loved falling in love.
McFadden: And you were a good girl until later, right?
Fergie: Well [laughs] it depends on what you mean by being a good girl.
McFadden: Oh, I thought you meant it depended on what I meant by later.
Fergie: Well, yeah, I was 18 when I became a woman. But no, there it is, there’s your sound bite, there you go. But no, but it was just lovely falling in love and just those, those teenage hormones racing and, you know, you have a boyfriend through the holidays, and all the sudden spring break would come along, and [sound of cutting] and you know.
Hudson: Wait, I have a boyfriend?!
Fergie: I’d get my fake ID and go to the, you know, wherever the spring break was and find a new one for the year.
McFadden: So what do we think, [looking over at Day-Lewis] do we think that he was popular with the girls in high school?
McFadden: Yes? Were you?
Day-Lewis: When I was young I went through phases. I got along OK, you know, just with my mates when I was growing up in London but then when I was sent away to boarding school, I was a pariah. I mean I was universally despised. It was an all boys’ boarding school. So there wasn’t any opportunity there. But then I went to a mixed boarding school and things start to get better.
McFadden: Why were you despised?
Day-Lewis: Because I think I was just unhappy and I acted the clown the whole time, and you know, I did things that I shouldn’t have done and everyone else was just trying to get on with the business of being a school boy. In those places it’s all about conformity, so if someone is reminding you every now then that they’re in a forced labor camp, you know, they don’t really like you for it. So& but then things got better.
McFadden: The reason I ask is because obviously so many of you have formed friendships, deep friendships in the process of making this film. I mean, I saw the two of you holding hands a little earlier, [to Judi and Daniel] and I saw the two of you holding hands a little earlier. So tell me about it. How many of you actually knew each other well before? [To Daniel and Judi]: The two of you knew each other well before.
Day-Lewis: Very well.
Dench: 30 years.
Dench: Not that we’re that old.
McFadden: So you knew—did that help make it easier, to know that she was going to be in the film?
Day-Lewis: Yeah. I was delighted, delighted.
McFadden: Did you know he was going to be trouble? Or no?
Dench: He is always trouble.
Day-Lewis: Yeah we used to laugh a lot when we were—
Dench: I’m afraid we used to laugh at Hamlet sometimes.
Day-Lewis: We did, we got into some trouble with that.
Kidman: Oh, you did Hamlet together.
Day-Lewis: Yes. And the best moment, really, of Hamlet for me was slogging with my own mother.
Day-Lewis: I don’t know what that says about me. [laughing] Me or the production.
McFadden: Were any of the rest of you friends before this started or did you become friends in the process
Fergie: We had met—Kate and I had met years ago—
Hudson: Way—years before. Yeah. Back when you were blond.
Fergie: Yeah, I was really blond.
Hudson: You were really blond.
Fergie: I was, gosh, when was that?
Hudson: I was like 18.
Fergie: I was like, 22? 21?
Hudson: And I had known Penelope.
Cruz: Yeah. Most of us had met, we have met before, but not—
Kidman: I didn’t know Marion.
Cotillard: Oh, I didn’t know anybody, except— [points down the table towards Daniel]
Day-Lewis: [To Marion] We had met like a year or two years before.
Cotillard: Yeah, a year before.
McFadden: So did it make it hard? How nervous were you all before you started making this picture? Very nervous?
Day-Lewis: We were all like children, but that is a good thing.
McFadden: Is it?
McFadden: No nerves, no good performance?
Fergie: No, because we were excited.
Hudson: We were so excited, yeah. It’s like&
Marshall: You felt that. You felt that in rehearsal and filming too, because we all felt we were very lucky to be doing this. I mean this kind of thing doesn’t happen all the time, especially to this scale, and it’s not really& it’s a unique piece, too. So we felt fortunate to all be together every day, I think we did. Because you can feel when something’s special.
Hudson: It’s like something happens, you know. It’s like anybody who has a performance gene, when there’s a stage and you kind of see it, you get this little child like feeling, at least for me, and I just want to like& I get like, dance-y, you know, and for me I can’t wait, you know. I look at it, and when I walked onto the set and I saw his stage, it was like, I mean, I wanted to jump out of my skin. You know?
‘Whiskey in Our Belly’
Marshall: Kate, tell them what Shirley Maclaine said to you about dancers and the kind of dancer she was. It’s such a great thing.
Hudson: My mom and Shirley are both dancers, that’s how they started. And I was talking with them about the difference between what dance was to them then, and choreography and what it is now, as I dance with choreographers. But Shirley said, you know, “I don’t know what it is about girls today, but back then when I was dancing with Fosse,” she goes, “girls today, it’s like they dance like there’s Diet Coke in their belly.” She goes, “when we were dancing we were dancing in a basement with whiskey in our belly.”
Marshall: And I think it’s very true. I really come from the old school, John worked with Fosse and I worked with Michael Bennett, and some of the greats like Jerome Robbins and they’re really from another time, and so I saw how that worked and Kate’s right. And that’s one of the things I am most proud of, of the work at this table, is that there was such passion in the work. I felt it with everybody.
McFadden: So they were dancing with whiskey in their belly?
Fergie: There was whiskey flowing through all the numbers.
Marshall: In the dancing and the singing and the joy that you feel, and you feel the whiskey in the belliesto me it is about feeling that. Because, no matter what, musical film will always be a hybrid for me of the theater. You have to feel that it’s live as you are watching as well. It has to have, you know, it has to feel that, and every one of your numbers has that sense of spontaneity and life and&whiskey.
Hudson: Yeah and we don’t get that opportunity anymore, you know. I grew up, and I felt like, you know, my mom did variety shows and would dance and sing. And I remember, I saw this thing with her and Dean Martin, an old thing of her doing a show and all of a sudden they broke into song and that was a part of what that generation was and did and I grew up looking at and going “oh, that’s so fun” and I don’t have that opportunity very often in my generation, you know. And to be able to feel that&it’s just, that’s what I fell in love with as a little girl. And to do it is just a dream come true to me.
McFadden: Did it feel that way to all of you? That this was an opportunity to do something you don’t usually get to do?
Day-Lewis: Very much so.
McFadden: Because some of you are known for your darker roles.
Day-Lewis: [chuckles] Those old darker roles.
Marhsall: I have to say that Daniel’s range is out of the charts. He is off the charts. There’s nothing he can’t do.
McFadden: So I know it was all very Kumbaya, but come on, somebody must have had a fight with somebody at some point, didn’t they?
Day-Lewis: We never had a fight.
[everyone shaking their heads]
Day-Lewis: Who had a fight? I am trying to think.
McFadden: Nobody? There was no like, my publicist is bigger than your publicist? None of that stuff?
Fergie: Hold on there’s a funny story, though.
McFadden: Come on.
Fergie: And she is not here, but it’s really cute. I remember this one day that we were doing the Overture and each woman is presented and the very last shot of the day became Sophia’s, and we were running out of time so you had to put, we had to film Sophia’s at the end of the day and she was so upset that her close up was going to be at the end of the day and I completely understood, she was hilarious.
Marshall: You are absolutely right that was something that was my mistake. Thinking it was better to do it in order and not in continuity, as opposed to thinking in terms of you know this iconic actor from you know from film, and then you realize that’s important. So that was something that you know—
Day-Lewis: You also had to ransack every florist in West London.
Fergie: She’s a trooper though.
McFadden: And she forgave you?
Marshall: Yes, and she looks gorgeous too.
Fergie: She looks stunning.
McFadden: Well that’s the forgiveness, right?
Fergie: And she does her own makeup, so she’s a trooper.
McFadden: She did?
Marshall: She does her own makeup.
Kidman: Does she?
Marshall: She’s comes out of that school. You don’t walk out of the house unless it’s done.
Fergie: Yeah, so she just went back in and she cleaned it up and she was a professional. Yes, she went and she did it.
McFadden: I was going to ask each of you, I know that fame isn’t calibrated in any kind of way, but since she’s not with you right now is she the most famous of you all do you think? Sophia Loren?
Marshall: Oh sure.
Day-Lewis: Without a shadow of doubt.
McFadden: No question?
Marshall: It’s not even a question.
Cruz: Of course.
Marshall: There’s just, in the world there’s just a few. There’s Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, there’s, you know what I mean? Lauren Bacall& you know, she represents that. And the great thing about it is that she is one of the guys. And that’s maybe when the cameras are off. She is one of us, she is a girl from Napoli and that’s what she talks about. She says, this is who I am. I used to speak to her about, Sophia, she talked in the 3rd person sometimes. Like that’s that thing, and I am a girl from Naples. And that was lovely to find out.
Fergie: She’s razor sharp.
Marshall: Razor sharp and funny.
Hudson: Oh, she’s so funny. That’s what shocked me. When I first, obviously, I remember seeing her the first time and she looks at you and you can tell she takes everything in and you just can’t get out of her eyes. I mean, they’re so phenomenal. And you are looking at them and I remember I was putting on makeup one day in the mirror because I don’t ever really do that, in real life I am really bad at putting a face on. And she was watching me and she goes, and I turned around and she looked at me and said, [impersonating Sophia], “More blush.”
Fergie: I remember that, I was there.
Hudson: And I went, “Really?” And she was like, “oh yeah, oh yeah,” and I was like, “oh, ok!” and it was so Sophia, you know. And she was right, I definitely needed more blush.
Fergie: And I remember, we went to dinner with Harvey [Weinstein] and I was eating as I did on the set.
Fergie: And I’m eating and eating a lot, and she comes to me and she pushes my plate aside, because I am eating a lot, and she says, [impersonating Sophia] “no more,” and I said, “really? Sophia, it’s the only time I can enjoy it&” [impersonating Sophia] “No more.” OK, ok.
‘I Love Her So Much
Marshall: There is a great relationship, I have to say, between Sophia and Penelope.
Cruz: I love her so much.
McFadden: Why? Why do you think?
Marshall: Well, I mean these incredible Latin actors who have made this huge mark in the world and I know that over the years Penelope has been compared to Sophia in some ways.
Cruz: I just admire her so much and I love watching all of her movies over and over again and I really wanted to meet her and we, we really connected and we became, I don’t know, friends and I love her I adore her.
Marshall: I think she feels very protective of you too. I really feel that. Yeah it’s a beautiful thing.
Cotillard: When we were doing this photo shoot and she was looking at you, and I was looking at her and looking at you, and there was this warmth, this protection, and she was looking at you as if she knew you forever. As if she’s known you forever. And it was, and I was sitting and I was like I am so lucky to see this moment of her looking at you. It was so beautiful.
Cruz: She can be so kind and warm, I think, with all of us. She’s a queen.
Marshall: She’s a spirit.
McFadden: With the fear that I’m going to get nailed over here by Dame Judi again, I think that people expect that you are not going to be nice to each other.
Cruz: I don’t think people expect that, I think—
Dench: I just want to say, no time!
Cruz: Who cares.
Hudson: This is what I always find is really interesting. People want to pit women against each other. I don’t get that at all, like, it doesn’t make any sense to me whatsoever, it’s just I mean
Marshall: Well Judi’s dead right, I mean we were working so hard there was no time to do anything but focus on that anyway, but also I think the support from each other was extraordinary.
Cruz: The little free time that we had, we wanted to be together. Nobody went to their rooms to eat by themselves. We were always together in that one room.
McFadden: So it was never like “she got a better dress than I did,” no? None of that stuff?
Cotillard: No. We were in joggings all the time.
Cotillard: We were sweating.
Hudson: And swapping dance shoes. I still have Penelope’s dance shoes. Because I came to work one day
Cruz: You do?
Hudson: Yeah, the nude ones.
Cruz: See. I don’t even remember.
Hudson: We have the same size foot and I came in and said I don’t have my shoes, and she said take mine.
McFadden: So, I want to ask each of you because obviously it was a very special experience, what you learned about yourself in the course of making this film or your craft if you prefer I am just interested in what the experience felt like and since he is the director, we’ll make him go first. What about it, Rob? What did you learn in the course of making this movie?
Marshall: That& how rare this was. That’s what I felt, and I try to be aware of that as much as I could because I know it doesn’t happen like this often. And I felt so lucky, and I know that sounds maybe cliché, but I did, I felt very lucky. To assemble this kind of cast, for this kind of piece , and also, you know, what you learn as you are working is that the only thing you can control ultimately is the process. That’s it. So to have, to be able to have the process that we had, and the experience we had, was everything. It was everything.
McFadden: T.S. Elliot there’s a line of poetry and I am going to mangle it, but the idea is that the only great tragedy is to have the experience and miss the meaning. So, you know, great things happen, terrible things happens, but in life, you know, the idea is to decide what it means to you, so, Penelope what did it mean to you?
Cruz: For me this movie was a great reminder of how important it is to work as a team. Because it was a little bit like doing theater especially the preparation time, which was like two months. And it is a very important reminder for actors because in other movies, I mean, this only could be done this way. But it’s so important to remember you are not there by yourself and it was very helpful, that energy that Rob created for the set, it was a great invitation to leaving your ego at home. So you could really feel that on set and I know it sounds like blah, blah, blah but it was really like that, [looking at Rob] wouldn’t you say? And also because of what he created, this group just was there wanting to serve him and serve his story. But I know he wouldn’t have allowed any other way of doing things&because he cares too much.
Marshall: I don’t know how to, I mean, honestly, and it’s overwhelming to hear you speak like that but the truth is I don’t know any other way to do it because I can’t, I don’t know how to work unless there’s sort of a sense of joy on the stage. I don’t know how to do it. People can and do it well and there’s angst and friction, but to me it has to be a place of happiness. It’s hard enough making it, so there has to be a sense of we’re all in it together, enjoying the process.
Kidman: Yeah, just the spirit. The idea of coming in and working hard and it paying off. I think that was, it just, it’s like, OK here we are. There wasn’t that much time to sort of talk about what we were trying to do, it was more like here it is, let’s go and it was just being, the beauty of being an actor. It just reminded me again of why I do it and why I love to do it. I think we all had that.
McFadden: And you had the baby with you.
Kidman: Yeah, yeah, which was great. But that’s a lovely thing when you’ve just had a baby, she was 6 weeks old, and I got to come back and get a taste of being an actor, and then also still being her, you know, her source of food. [laughs]
Hudson: We were all lucky to get a little taste of Sunday too!
McFadden: So did you bring her to the set? She was there?
Kidman: Yeah and she was very sort of doted on so it was just very nice. But there is a wonderful thing about, you just get in there and you work hard and I love that feeling. So that’s what everyone at this table is, I think they’re all really hard workers.
McFadden: How did it strike you [to Judi], the whole experience?
Dench: Well I hadn’t ever done a musical in film before, I had done musicals on the stage. What is wonderful is what you realize is that you get more chances to get it right, and you go on and on and on until you get it right, and you do until you get it right in Rob’s terms. But it’s true as everybody has said, we were together and everybody said hello, hello, hello, and then it was a question of, it wasn’t no more hellos, when you talk about friction there wasn’t time for friction, everybody was committed. It’s because of Rob, he directs by stealth. He makes you feel, he makes you feel, he makes you feel good about doing it and you do it and he makes you also feel that if you are not in a great strong light where you can’t move, he gives you a way of working that you think you are doing it amongst friends. You just think you’re having a gas and then you do it and he’ll laugh and talk and suggest something and you’ll do it again and then go on and on and on, and on, and on, and on and on and on, because you know you will go until he gets what he wants. But in his hands you feel very, very safe. I swear all of us felt that. But it is working, because we all worked to the same end and that was to tell this story—that’s Rob and John [Deluca], but everybody worked on it. It’s to tell a story, there’s not actually time to think I didn’t like him or her, there’s not time for that. Is there?
McFadden: It’s interesting what you say, the security of knowing that you will go on and do it until it’s right. That’s a tremendous freedom I would think.
Dench: Well it’s just because you can get off on the wrong foot on the stage [gestures tripping] and that completely blows it. But that is what you have to live with for that evening. But then the next night it might be better.
McFadden: And terrifying, no?
Dench: Oh yes, terrifying, terrifying. Life isn’t right without terror.
McFadden: For you? [to Daniel] For you what was the learning experience?
Day-Lewis: I think you know, Penelope you were saying, it was what you were reminded of, rather than what you learned. For me it was the same in a way, but I think for me it was also being reminded that, I guess, no matter how fearful it is, it is invariably rewarding to go into the unknown. And not that we don’t know that but we still need to be reminded of it sometimes, but it’s always in the unknown that you find the greatest reward I think.
McFadden: The stretch is harder than—as some of you know, I was great friends with Katharine Hepburn and she used to say—I would say later in her life, “oh, what do you have to worry about you are a legend, you’ve done it all, you’ve achieved so much.” And she would say, “Oh it’s much more fun getting there than staying there.” [everyone laughs]. And I wonder, when you say the unknown part of what you are saying is to continue to not just try to stay there but to do something new.
Day-Lewis: Yeah, I suppose we all, I think at times, especially if you have been working for quite a few years, you begin to worry whether you will reach a point where there is nothing more to explore—there’s always something more to explore, whether you lose the capacity to explore, and you know we, all of us, when we, Judi was saying, you arrive on day one on the rehearsal stage and we all in that moment became children, on day one of an entirely new experience, and the fragility that you feel in those moments is an incredibly invigorating thing. And it’s that vulnerability that gives you the joy in the work, really. Because of course we could all keep going for the rest of our lives, just re-investing ourselves in things that we are comfortable with, that we know. And that would be a sad thing to do that.
McFadden: So as the baby of the group, Kate?
Hudson: Well, I mean, we all feel the same way, but if I was to put a moment to what this movie felt like for me, it was that all of this work and all of the rooting that everybody was doing for each other, and all the support and the laughs and fun and late nights, and you know, when it came down to doing the work I was working with a group of dancers that were so incredible, that were so supportive, as well, and we were doing this number and there was one particular take, and we were all—had lost and inch already, and there was one particular take that we were all back behind the curtain going like, OK, [clapping] we were pumping ourselves up like an athlete, and you’re getting yourself ready to go, and Rob calls action, and we all went out there and did this number and gave it our all. And you can’t see the person next to you and you don’t know what they are doing, but there was a collective hoot and holler at the end because we all nailed it. And that feeling, that exhilarating feeling of nailing something that you have worked so hard for together, which is what I think we all feel, you can’t ,there’s nothing in the world that can take away. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I love doing what I do. That’s why I wanted to be an actor and performer. You know, I mean you feel that there’s only, there’s not many moments where you have that feeling.
McFadden: So that moment is as important as the results, you’re saying. That that moment is as important as seeing it finally on film?
Hudson: But it’s a collective—it wouldn’t be happening without all the people around you doing it together. You know, you wouldn’t, you know, it’s not alone, you don’t get those things on your own. You get them through the company and through the team. And so, it’s an unbelievable feeling.
McFadden: [To Daniel] Did you want to say something to that?
Day-Lewis: No, no, it just made me think, it reminded me that you know, Rob has said this a number of times. The reason we are doing this is for the work itself. And that’s exactly what it has to be and it’s easy to imagine, I think, for most people outside of the work, that this for us is the moment we have been waiting for.
McFadden: Right, the film.
Day-Lewis: But it’s not. This is actually a moment of sadness.
McFadden: You have to do the interviews, right.
Day-Lewis: Well, there’s that too. But the time when we are going to be in the same room together sharing part of the experience of doing this work are getting fewer and fewer, and as much as we wanted it to be a wonderful thing, this film, and as much as we worked hard to try and make it as good as it could be, the work is the reward and that’s also something that you should never ever let go of. You have to do the work without feeling you have got to make this perfect thing and hand it over and that’s what it’s all about, it’s not.
Hudson: Yeah, I mean, half of that moment—
Day-Lewis: It’s that moment like Kate described, that’s what it is. That’s where it is.
McFadden: It was easier to go first than last, OK, [to Fergie].
Fergie: I know, well I think we were very spoiled in this movie because, you know, they always say you know, when you are in charge you kind of set the tone for an overall project and the tone that Rob set for us was a very tasteful one. He wasn’t pressuring or anything like that, even when, you know, the lighting would be wrong and he would be waiting for them it was in this slow voice, “are we ready for lighting yet?”
Fergie: I don’t think I ever heard him raise his voice and it was just it was, it was very meditational, and it was just a great example of leadership. Also for me on a personal level, learning to, especially with this character and gaining the weight, you know usually for myself, you know, I am trying to fit into costumes and outfits for stage, and you know suck in this or that for the red carpet and for this, you know I could just leave that all aside and focus on this character who embraced all of that. And so I was out of my head, I wasn’t watching myself. You know, I was able to be something else and it was so freeing&so freeing. And I also loved, one last thing, and you guys can tell me, but I think we were spoiled on this too, but the schedule and going to work at a certain time and getting off at a certain time because as a musician we are not used to that. We are going from time zone to time zone and hotel room to hotel room and it was so nice to have a break from that and just be in one spot and get to exhale for a minute.
McFadden: And really concentrate on this.
Fergie: Yeah, I want to do more film. I like that.
McFadden: We’ve saved the best for last, here. [To Marion] So?
Cotillard: It’s hard because there are things that we all feel. I was about to talk about Rob’s voice.
Fergie: Oh no! I took your thought.
Cotillard: No, I think it might have been the first time that I was in a environment with so much love. So much love, [to Rob] from you, and from all of us. We were, there was something very, very, very special about this adventure and I will remember everything. What we shared, with each other, with Paul [Bogaev], with the dancers, I mean it was so, I don’t know, I never know how to answer actually, what did you learn because I think for sure you learn something, but what you will carry and I, for sure, I will carry, it was my dream to do musicals since I was four years old. And my dream became a dream. Really.
McFadden: Well it’s hard to imagine, I mean what an experience here. Fergie and I are the only ones not to be nominated for an Oscar and I am the only one who is never going to be, so, it was really wonderful to sit and talk to you about this, magnificent film. I have to say, I did speak to Harvey Weinstein last night and asked him what I should ask all of you, the film’s producer, so what do you imagine he asked?
McFadden: Harvey wanted me to ask you who your favorite producer is.
McFadden: That goes without saying, but Dame Judi, he did say that you once said in an interview that you had Harvey tattooed on your bum.
Dench: I showed him it, unfortunately, [inadubile]
McFadden: It’s not that kind of show.
Dench: That’s between Harvey and me, for him to say and for me to keep quiet about.
Marshall: I think, hats off to Harvey because who would take a gamble and let us do something like this—it’s very& we know, we know. He’s brave and we are very lucky.
McFadden: So the final question I have is, at the very beginning of the film, Guido says you must never talk about your film—
Day-Lewis: Uh-huh. Yes.
Dench: What have you done to us?
McFadden: The end. Thank you very much. It’s really been fun.