Fergie, Kate Hudson & Nicole Kidman Nine

Fergie, Kate Hudson & Nicole Kidman Nine


Nine

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren
Director: Rob Marshall
Genre: Musical, Dance, Drama
Rated: M
Running Time: 119 minutes

Release Date: January 21st, 2010
Website: www.NineMovie.com.au

Federico Fellini told me that the theme of his life and of his work was "dreams are the only reality."

"No one ever perceives the real world," he said "Each person simply calls private, personal fantasies the Truth. The difference is that I know I live in a fantasy world. I prefer it that way and resent anything that disturbs my vision. "My films are often based on my dreams. When I wake up, I put them down as funny little drawings.

"For me making films is making love. I'm most alive when I'm directing. But before I started making 8½, something happened to me which I always feared could happen, and when it did, it was more terrible that I could ever have imagine. I suffered my greatest fear, director's block. "Director's block is like writer's block, except that it's public rather than private. My 8½ crew called me 'the magician,' but the film I was going to make had fled from me. I considered abandoning it, but I could not let all of those people down who believed I was a magician. It came to me that I should make a film about a director who has director's block. "It had been said that my films are autobiographical. True. I often use something that really happened to me.

"When I was about seven, my parents took me to the circus, and I had the strong feeling that I was expected there."

I know Federico Fellini would have been highly complimented by the choice of Daniel Day-Lewis to play Guido in Nine. Since the character in Nine represents Federico Fellini, I can imagine Federico Fellini saying something like, "Such a fine actor, so good-looking…so thin."

Guido, in both 8 ½ and Nine, while being inspired by Federico Fellini, is only part of the real man. In life, Federico Fellini was rather shy and self-conscious. In his imagination, he could be Guido. As Marcello Mastroiani, and now Daniel Day-Lewis, Federico Fellini was vicariously able to be the character of his imagination without upsetting his less turbulent personal life with his devoted wife and star, Giulietta Masina. "I am her best director, if not her best husband," he told me.

Federico Fellini would have appreciated the actresses chosen to be the women in Guido's life - Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, Penelope Cruz, Marion Cotillard and Judi Dench. Fellini was not the Casanova he sometimes was rumored to be, he, himself, having spread the rumor. "I have a playfully adulterous mind," he told me. "In my mind, I never get tired of living out my sexual fantasies. In life, they would interfere with my work."

Federico Fellini would have been extremely pleased and certainly rather amused to lean that Sophia Loren was playing his mother. She was his choice to star in Journey with Anita, a film he never made. Anita was a girl with whom the story's director has a brief fling. The film eventually was made by another director, with Goldie Hawn playing Anita. In real life, Goldie Hawn is the mother of Kate Hudson, one of Nine's stars.

Federico Fellini never saw the stage version of Nine on Broadway (he hated flying), but he was pleased by the idea that his films were enduring, and that both 8½ and Nights of Cabiria (which became "Sweet Charity") were the basis of musicals delighted him. He had grown up loving the Hollywood musical, particularly those of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, who inspired his film, Ginger and Fred. I'm certain that Federico would have appreciated that Nine is in the tradition of the great Hollywood musicals without imitating them. Music was always important in Fellini's films and he would have been thrilled that Rob Marshall was at the helm. His direction is never intrusive and always in control.

Rob Marshall has given us the definitive homage to Federico Fellini, always in the spirit of the great Italian director yet never imitating him. I think that Federico Fellini would have been especially pleased by Nine because it is not a re-make of 8½, but a true homage, which stands on its own. I can't speak for Federico Fellini, but I can hear him saying, as he often did, "What do you think, Charlottina?"

I almost saw 8 ½ with Federico Fellini. During one of my visits to Rome, I was told by Federico Fellini that a small theater was showing the film, many years after its release, and we rushed right over only to find a decrepit cinema, mutilated print, ancient projectors and miserable sound. Except for a snoring man and an attentive dog who seemed to be enjoying the film well enough, the theater was empty.

Federico Fellini rushed out in panic, calling back to me, "You can stay if you wish. I ran out, following him, to Cafe Rosati, to drown our sorrows in coffee and patisserie. That was the day I almost saw 8½ with Federico Fellini.

I knew Federico Fellini well enough to know that he would've slid down into a theater seat to see Nine and he definitely wouldn't have left. Sliding down in the seat was left over from his childhood spent at the Fulgar Cinema in Rimini when he saw a film he truly enjoyed and didn't want his mother to find him, and drag him away.

I wish Federico Fellini could have been here to speak for himself about Nine and I know all of you wish it, too.

I believe Federico Fellini would have paid this film of Nine his highest compliment. He would've called it "Felliniesque."

Federico Fellini's life exceeded even his dreams. "Life is the combination of magic and pasta," he told me, so I believe he would have suggested that after you've seen the magic of Nine, you go out and have a meal of delicious pasta. - Charlotte Chandler, author of I, Fellini

"Be Italian. Live today as if it may become your last."- "Be Italian," Nine

Passion, fantasy, lust, love, art, style, delusions, dreams - life has always been a circus for world-famous 1960s movie director Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis) . . . only now he can't escape it in the vibrant and provocative dramatic musical, Nine.

Renowned for his brilliant moviemaking and desired by many, Guido is about to kick off production on his highly anticipated ninth picture, Italia when, suddenly, the bottom drops out of both his ample creative powers and his fervid love life, as they simultaneously unravel out of control.

Surrounded by a panorama of astonishing women-his tempting mistress Carla (Penelope Cruz), his devoted wife Luisa (Marion Cottillard), his muse Claudia (Nicole Kidman), his costume designer and confidante Lilli (Judi Dench), a flirty journalist from Vogue (Kate Hudson), an instructive prostitute from his childhood (Stacy Ferguson) and his beloved Mamma (Sophia Loren) - Guido searches for inspiration and possible salvation amid the free fall.

As he does, the historic Stage 5 at Cinecitta Studios in Rome is lit up by Guido's most evocative desires, memories and dreams-which transform into dynamic, expansive musical fantasies-as Nine draws ever closer to the moment when Guido must overcome his demons and call "Action!"

The innovative, award-winning Broadway musical sensation inspired by the movies Nine comes full circle back to the screen stirringly re-invented as the richly cinematic story of an artist's epic mid-life crisis by Academy Award®-nominated director Rob Marshall, who brought Chicago so dazzlingly to life.

Based on the Tony Award® winning Broadway musical Nine, with book by Arthur L. Kopit, music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and adaptation from the Italian by Mario Fratti, the film is written by Michael Tolkin and Anthony Minghella. The film is produced by Marc Platt, Harvey Weinstein, John DeLuca and Rob Marshall. The executive producers are Kelly Carmichael, Michael Dryer, Gina Gardini, Ryan Kavanaugh, Arthur L. Kopit, Tucker Tooley, Bob Weinstein and Maury Yeston.

Unusual Way: How Nine Went From the Movies to Broadway to the Movies

Few Broadway sensations have cinematic roots as deep or as sexy as Nine a story about art, dreams, love and the emotional exhilaration and inspiration that can only be found at the movies-which now comes full circle back to the big screen in a completely re-imagined adaptation by director Rob Marshall of Chicago fame. Rob Marshall unfolds the drama of an artist's mid-life crisis in his own original cinematic language, forged of emotion, music, imagination and kinetic cinematography, that turns the inner lives of director Guido Contini and the women who inspire him into stirring visual fantasias.

It all began with Federico Fellini. His 1963, Oscar®-winning masterpiece film, 8½, a daringly surreal and magical tale about a director's creative crisis, became one of the most talked-about, analysed and influential movies of all time. Overflowing with a carnival of imagery fused from one man's tantalising memories, dreams, flights of fancy, nostalgia, humor and demons, it became to many one of the first films that fully exposed what it really feels like to live inside the madness and wonder of the modern human condition. On top of that, along with Federico Fellini's other movies, it inspired people around the world to aspire to the dream of living inside the sensual world of an Italian movie.

Since then, many leading contemporary filmmakers have paid homage to 8½ in their own distinctly individual ways. Bob Fosse spun his own life into the surreal fabric of All That Jazz, the dance driven story of a brilliant, self-destructive choreographer trying to come to grips with his past, his women and his mortality. Woody Allen took a completely opposite approach with the comic Stardust Memories, in which he starred as a disillusioned filmmaker plagued by hallucinations and alien visitations as he confronts the meaning of his work and the memories of his greatest loves.

Now Rob Marshall brings his own creative milieu-his savvy for integrating drama, cinema and music into one seamless fabric-to 8½ via Nine.

The Broadway version of Nine, with book by Arthur L. Kopit and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston, began with another young artist's Federico Fellini obsession. Maury Yeston had fallen madly in love with 8½ when he first saw it as a teenager. Years later, while teaching music at Yale University in the 1970s, he turned the movie's image-driven story into a genre-expanding stage musical, ultimately heading to Rome to meet with Federico Fellini and receive his creative blessings.

Maury Yeston decided that if he added the extra element of music-and-dance to the director's unforgettable vision of a man's mid-life battles with women, lust, spiritual yearning and creative fulfillment . . . it would it add up to Nine.

When the production premiered on May 2, 1982 at the 46th Street Theatre, what it also added up to was a massive hit. Directed by Tommy Tune, Nine featured the unusual combination of a singular male lead surrounded by 24 female actresses representing every facet of femiNine power, strength and beauty. The show ran for 729 performances and became the must-see of the season, dazzling audiences with its inventive, visually striking, high-style design and arresting musical numbers-and sweeping five Tony Awards® that year. The allure of the show continued with a Broadway revival garnering another 8 1\2 Tony Awards® and countless touring and regional productions.

But Nine was destined to undergo another artistic transformation-back to its original inspirational medium: the movies. The idea emerged as Rob Marshall and Harvey Weinstein began searching for a follow up project to Chicago, the spectacular story of Prohibition-Era crime that revolutionised the whole concept of merging drama with music and dance, and went on to win six Academy Awards®, including Best Picture. In the meantime, Rob Marshall made his award-winning adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha (winner of three Academy Awards), but in late 2006, he and Weinstein announced that their next project would be Nine.

Just as Federico Fellini had personally given to Maury Yeston full creative liberty to use the elements of 8½ like sculptor's clay to create his theatrical work, Maury Yeston now granted to Rob Marshall the same freedom to give the play a new life on the screen.

"I was absolutely delighted to hear that Harvey Weinstein wanted to make a film of Nine and even more excited that Rob Marshall was going to direct it," says Maury Yeston. "I feel very strongly that cinema is a director's art and I wanted Rob Marshall to fell completely free to adapt and transform my stage piece to take full advantage of the very different medium and possibilities of film. I literally told Rob Marshall: 'make believe I am dead, because you must approach this with radical freedom and bring yourself fully to it.' Everyone knows that you can't just point a camera at a stage and make a movie. It was obligatory for the director to redefine Nine in all of its elements, and that is precisely what Rob Marshall did."

He continues: "I have always felt a personal obligation to Federico Fellini, who so graciously allowed me to dapthis masterpiece, who trusted me to honor and respect it. And now, Rob Marshall has returned this gift to me, and also to Federico Fellini, by doing justice to the film."

Rob Marshall and Harvey Weinstein engaged two screenwriters with a unique perspective to tackle their vision of turning Nine into a drama with music: the Oscar®-nominated writer/director Michael Tolkin (The Player) and the late, Oscar®-winning writer/director Anthony Minghella (The English Patient,The Talented Mr. Ripley), himself of Italian heritage and steeped in a profound love of Italian films. Their writing was inspired not only by Federico Fellini, Arthur L. Kopit and Maury Yeston, but by their own personal experiences with moviemaking, imagination and life as lauded filmmakers under pressure. (Minghella would pass away before the film completed production, making Nine his final work.)

Simultaneously, Rob Marshall began auditioning a roster of essentially every leading lady in Hollywood and beyond-because he always believed that the script should be written to the cast, rather than the other way around. Rob Marshall, along with his creative partner John DeLuca, held singing and dancing work sessions with nearly every female star of renown while the screenplay was still being forged.

Meanwhile, Maury Yeston told Rob Marshall to "call me when you need me" and three weeks after their initial meeting, he was on the line. Shortly after, Maury Yeston met with Rob Marshall and John DeLuca around a piano to begin the process of adding three entirely new songs to his uniquely expressive score.

The idea exhilarated Maury Yeston. "We talked about the fact that the stage show had several reality based songs that needed to be re-invented in order to fit the film's concept: the song's exist as fantasies in Guido's mind. So the film needed these new songs. It was a chance for me to re-imagine my own work for film," he says, "and it couldn't have been more exciting or satisfying for me to write new songs in a different art form for such brilliant stars."

Despite the decades-long gap, Maury Yeston found the characters seemed as alive as ever to him, especially with the film's dynamic casting. He wrote the lullaby "Guarde La Luna" with Sophia Loren in mind as Guido's beloved Mama. "The original song for Guido's mother in the stage version is a quintessentially high soprano song and Sophia Loren is not a soprano so the song would not have the same effect," he explains. "My goal was to write a song for Sophia Loren that would still have the same lyrical and musical function but that would respond to her vocal range and, even more so, the very essence of this extraordinary woman whose DNA is part of the fabric of Italian cinema. I took some very haunting music from the song "Waltz from 'Nine'" in the stage show and transformed that into this song."

Maury Yeston also wrote a new song for Marion Cotillard as Guido's weary wife, Luisa: the powerful "Take It All." It originally was going to be a trio for Cotillard, Nicole Kidman and Penélope Cruz but when that felt at odds with the narrative, a fresh idea emerged. "Rob Marhsall and John DeLuca came up with a premise for the song that completely opened a new world for me," notes Maury Yeston. "It was a chance to give the marvelously talented Marion Cotillard a heart-wrenching, soul-searing performance number and that is what she delivers in the film."

Finally, Maury Yeston wrote "Cinema Italiano," a playful ode to the enduring pop culture influence of Italian movies performed by Kate Hudson as a style-savvy Vogue journalist. "Kate Hudson has a spectacular voice and is a great dancer so we wanted an up-tempo number rich with dancing and singing for her," he says. "The song turned out to be a great idea for reasons that weren't immediately apparent. It became a witty, entertaining way to show audiences of today how in 1965, Italian movies were the new wave of excitement and the very pinnacle of cinematic achievement. It was also a way to reveal how Italian movies not only gave the world a new film style but a new fashion style, as this realm of skinny ties and speedy sports cars became a lifestyle to which people everywhere aspired. Kate Hudson took all that and hit it out of the park."

In addition to the three new songs, Maury Yeston made changes to the lyrics and music throughout. "The songs needed to fit hand-in-glove with the characters as Rob Marshall envisioned them and the actors who portray them," says Maury Yeston.

While a few songs from the original play were cut to enhance cinematic fluidity, as is common with stage to screen transfers, Maury Yeston feels nothing has been lost. "I have not lost any songs because they are still in the stage show. Instead, I have gained a newly transformed version of my work," he explains. "From the moment I fell in love with 8½, Nine has been a life-long project for me. I love the material and I see it as an on-going process that never is final. At the end of the day, my work is a theory, and it takes performers in a particular medium to make it a reality or audiences. A new version doesn't cancel out previous versions or future versions. That's what makes it so thrilling."

He adds: "Working on Nine with Rob Marshall and John DeLuca was the most life-giving, inspiring and welcoming experience of my creative life. They are meticulous, they are brilliant and the simply inspire changes for the better."

Maury Yeston also had a chance to hear his re-imagined and re-worked score recorded by a 50-piece orchestra conducted by the film's music supervispor, Paul Bogaev, who also worked on Chicago. "It was thrilling to hear the music go from a smaller Broadway ensemble to a big orchestra," Maury Yeston confesses. "The music is richer, fuller, sweeping in its treatment. It's the experience of a lifetime to hear my music like this and I'm enormously grateful."

Sums up Harvey Weinstein: "Nine is a timeless masterpiece. Inspired by Federico Fellini, one of cinema's most profound auteurs, it is given a new life by the dramatic film writing of Tolkin and Minghella and the dynamic staging of Rob Marshall and John DeLuca. Nobody can stage sexier or more exciting numbers than Rob-and teaming up with this tremendous cast, he has put together something we've never experienced before. I can't think of a better filmmaker to bring this story to the screen."

Follies Bergere: Rob Marshall Calls "Action!" on Nine
"The film version of Nine is a complete re-invention. It is so wholly unique to the vision of Rob Marshall that it became its own journey creatively," says producer Marc Platt (Wicked), a veteran of both film and Broadway. "While it is true in essence to the Broadway musical, Nine the movie has become very much its own thing. It keeps in mind the essence of what made us all fall in love with the original material-its spirit and voice-but then Rob Marshall made it his own. His Nine is a wonderful fantasy that deals with real ideas and emotions."

Rob Marshall is no stranger to fusing Broadway classics with cinematic verve, which he did withChicago. As a six-time Tony Award® nominee for such shows as Cabaret and Kiss Of The Spider Woman, his stage acumen is well known, but he is just as highly regarded as a filmmaker, most recently bringing Arthur Golden's bestseller Memoirs of a Geisha to life on screen, and garnering multiple Oscar®' nominations.

Marc Platt continues: "Rob Marshall has a unique background for this story in that he came from the world of the theatre as a dancer and choreographer, made the leap into directing for the theater and then became a film director. Nine is a film about a filmmaker, about the cinema and about creating, and Rob Marshall is a creator, so it was personal for him. He's a man who understands cinema, its history, its academics, the technical aspects of directing a film, and the aesthetics. He also comes from the world of musicals-he grew up in that world, he understands how music moves narrative along. He understands how to integrate seamlessly the elements of music and dance, storytelling and design. In, that sense the movie Nine is the perfect marriage of director to material."

Guido's Song: Guido Contini and His Women
At the heart of Nine's drama is the artistic journey of Guido Contini, the suave, sensual, Federico Fellini-like Italian film director who is universally hailed as the world's greatest filmmaker-yet suddenly finds himself in a desperate search for inspiration for his next movie. He gets lost in his stormy relationships with a sea of beautiful women-who each seduce and confound him, spark his memories and open up his imagination to new possibilities, pushing him into the dream-like zone where creativity happens.

The role calls for a keen intelligence and simmering sexuality underscored by an unraveling sense of artistic vulnerability, and the surprise casting placed two-time Academy Award® winner Daniel Day- Lewis in the part. Daniel Day-Lewis has been called the most gifted actor of his generation, disappearing completely into the skin of an unforgettable array of screen characters, including his recent Oscar®- winning turn in the California oil epic, There Will Be Blood-but he has never been seen dancing or singing in a film before. Nevertheless, Daniel Day-Lewis threw himself into the role with his prototypical intensity-even learning fluent Italian, in order to inhabit the character completely.

Maury Yeston, who has seen quite a range of actors take on the role of Guido, was impressed with Daniel Day- Lewis's absorption into the role, but also his undiscovered ability to entertain as a singer. "It turns out that Daniel is a gifted singer and always was, but we just never knew it," Maury Yeston remarks.

Says cinematographer Dion Beebe of Day-Lewis's departure performance: "There's an intensity to the performance, but there's also a lightness, a sense of humor and irony. Guido is a man whose world might be collapsing, but his mind is always ready to fly off into fantasy."

Sophia Loren adds, echoing the entire casts' sentiments: "Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the best: scary, intimidating, hypnotic, beautiful, magnetic… unforgettable!"

Surrounding Daniel Day-Lewis-and alternately seducing and unsettling his character-in Nine is a knock-out ensemble of sexy, strong, glamorous women, each with her own vital role to play in helping Guido find his way through his creative maelstrom.

The roster begins with Oscar® winner, Marion Cotillard-who stirred audiences with her lifelike performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose-takes on the role of Luisa, Guido's long-devoted and long-suffering wife. Luisa was once his leading lady, and is still the woman Guido can't live without, but now she has taken a back seat to the many other temptations in his life. She is acutely aware there will always be a price to pay for loving a creative artist like Guido, as she confesses in her number, "My Husband Makes Movies" and the new, heart-wrenching number "Take It All"-but his behavior brings her to the brink of a momentous decision.

In preparing for the role, Marion Cotillard thought a lot about her character's motivations and her life before Guido. "Luisa was an actress when she met Guido. I think she dedicated her life to him, because their love was stronger-at that time-than her ambitions as an actress. Now she feels she has given everything to this man," she explains.

Continues Marion Cotillard, "In the time they have been together, Luisa has accepted many things about Guido. He is a director. He loves women. He needs women. He takes love and energy from these women. He needs Luisa, but he doesn't fully realise that she must have something in return. Luisa gives everything to Guido, but she has reached a crossroad where she has to decide."

Guido's irresistibly lusty yet delicately needy mistress, Carla, played by Penélope Cruz, who won the 2008 Academy Award® for Best Supporting Actress for another incendiary role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Penelope Cruz was instantly attracted to Carla's colorful role in Guido's life, as the woman who intends to battle for him, no matter the cost. "Carla has hope, conflict and pain in her relationship with Guido," Penelope Cruz observes.

"When she is around him she feels alive, because he makes her feel special, but it's a real roller coaster with him and he also causes Carla a lot of grief. Their relationship has been going on for some years and I think she simply can't let go. She sees only what she wants to see in Guido. She feels ready to fight for him to the end."

Penelope Cruz threw herself heart and soul into Nine, and says she was constantly inspired to go further by her director and fellow cast members. "This film has been an incredible experience and most of that is because of Rob Marshall," she says. "He has a brilliant talent and generosity. He sees everything, yet he manages to be honest with everyone. He only wants to bring the best out of everybody. We had all of these women working together, and he made each of us all feel special, every minute of the day."

She relished the chance to sing and dance, especially in the provocative number "Call From the Vatican". "We rehearsed for weeks and weeks, which I loved, and then when we shot the number, I was so sad, because I knew I would never get to do it again," she confesses.

Another woman who has long been in a slippery, symbiotic relationship with Guido is his inspiration and muse, Claudia Jenssen. They have built their stellar careers on each other-and as Claudia Jenssen sings, she loves Guido in an "Unusual Way"-but now, as Guido grows desperate for inspiration, Claudia Jenssen does the unthinkable: she turns down the lead role in his film.

Starring as Claudia is Oscar® winner Nicole Kidman, whose diversity of roles has spanned from Virginia Woolf in The Hours to a an overwrought modern New Englander in Margot at the Wedding.

She also starred in another innovative film that helped to kick-start the modern era of the re-imaginedHollywood musical: Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge.

Nicole Kidman recalls being instantly energised by the themes at the core of Nine. "It's the study of a man who's having a breakdown and looking for resurrection-and all the women in his life. It's about artistic and human nature, about the crimes and lies Guido has committed, and his search for his lost authenticity and decency," she says.

She was equally enticed by the filmmakers at the helm. "Nine was the film everyone wanted to do," she says. "Rob Marshall had his pick. He came to me and said, 'Would you play Claudia?' and I said, 'Absolutely.' I was sitting with him in the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel, in the middle of a press junket, so it was a very movie star moment!"

She continues: "At that stage, they didn't have a male lead, so we all kept our fingers crossed . . . and as fate would have it, Daniel Day-Lewis stepped into the role. He's so true to his art and it's so beautiful to be in the orbit of someone like Daniel Day-Lewis, to be one of his many women."

Another of those women is Guido's nurturing confidante and costume designer, Lilli, who is played by Judi Dench, the venerable British star of stage and screen who won the Oscar® for Shakespear in Love has been nominated six times. Judi Dench took pleasure in the very different kind of relationship Lilli has with Guido; and in Lilli's flamboyant personality, evidenced by her spectacle-admiring number "Follies Bergere." "Lilli is obviously older than Guido, and knows him very, very well, has worked with him many, many times and, yet, like the other women in his life, she is utterly bewitched by him," says Judi Dench. "Who wouldn't be?"

Lilli, Judi Dench notes, sees herself as Guido's self-appointed protector. "She wants to remind him that he doesn't have to be so full of apprehension. She's trying to catch his imagination again, and remind him of the fun they've had making beautiful movies. She sees that he's bogged down and her goal is to break through that so that he can become the person she knows he can be."

Life also imitated art for Judi Dench in the role. "Strangely enough, I started out training to be a costume designer in the theatre!" she explains. "So that was nice, to kind of understand the world my character inhabits. I couldn't put it into practice now-and I never had to worry about the costumes on this film because Colleen Atwood is a miracle worker-but I know that world very well."

Judi Dench previously worked with Daniel Day-Lewis under different circumstances, playing his mother in Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre, and knew the degree to which he penetrates his roles. "It was just lovely to get another opportunity to work with him," she says. "He became completely Italian; and that's Dan. That's the way he does it and it was wonderful for the rest of us, because when you're doing a scene with him, he makes the work completely seamless."

A mischievous flirtation for Guido comes in the form of the impeccably fashionable Vogue journalist Stephanie, who features prominently in his fantasies. Kate Hudson, an Oscar® nominee for her vibrant performance in Almost Famous, takes on the flashy role. "Stephanie," she notes, "is an obsessive fan of Guido Contini. She adores his films and Italian culture in general. She is one of many women who all want a piece of Guido!"

For Kate Hudson, the very notion of doing a musical was completely new and refreshing, and she was particularly excited to perform one of Maury Yeston's new songs: the buoyant pop ode to style, "Cinema Italiano." "I've never had an opportunity to do something like Nine before," comments Kate Hudson. "I've taken dance classes and worked with different choreographers, but I had never done a big number with hair and make-up and lights before this. Luckily, Rob Marshall prepared us with six weeks of rehearsal which was like a training camp. We sang and danced every day on a mock up stage."

Then came her big moment in front of the camera. "It was an entirely different and terrifying experience," she admits, "but also absolutely incredible and I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

Also joining the cast is a veritable Italian screen legend in real life: Oscar® winner Sophia Loren, who says she was bowled over when Rob Marshall offered her the role of one of the most important women in Guido's life: his always influential mother. Rob Marshall told the internationally beloved actress that he could not contemplate making Nine without her. "He explained it was a small role, but said he would only make the film if I would play Mama," Sophia Loren explains. "So I joked to him that I would do it to save his career because I liked Chicago so much. But it was really something I wanted to do. I mean for an Italian girl to be in an American musical is something."

Sophia Loren loved having the chance to perform the third new song from Maury Yeston: the lullaby "Guarda Luna." She also was thrilled to work with a cadre of today's most illustrious female stars. "To work with Nicole Kidman, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, I wondered if we would all kill each other!" Sophia Loren laughs. "But no. It was like family. It was wonderful because none of us had ever done a real Hollywood musical, so we were rooting for each other and we really became lasting friends."

Rounding out the family of women who came together for Nine is Grammy winning artist Stacy Ferguson-known universally as Fergie-who embraced the haunting role of Saraghina, the Roman prostitute whose romantic advice had a lasting impact on a very young and impressionable Guido, as recalled in the powerful number "Be Italian."

Once Stacy Ferguson won the role in a hard-fought audition, she set out to make it totally her own, diving into cinematic research. She says, "I watched lots of different films from that era, to get the raw physicality of Saraghina. I wanted this character to take over from me. It really came together when we started to do the routine with the girls and I got to work with the boys on the beach. That really gave me a sense of who she was, and what she meant to Guido in his life."

Stacy Ferguson found herself greatly admiring her character. "Saraghina is a very earthy, raw woman, in the way she walks and moves. She's full of life and fire," she explains. "But there's subtlety to it. She loves Guido and the boys, and enjoys teaching them, but she's kind of having a joke with herself as well at the same time."

The way that Stacy Ferguson embodied all of those qualities took Maury Yeston aback. He says: "I think the world will be stunned by Fergie's performance. Of course, she is a first-rate recording artist but the revelatory aspect of her performance is that she is also a fantastic film presence."

Each of the women involved in Nine agree that the film was an unusually fun and rich experience. Summarises Penélope Cruz: "When things go well on a set it is contagious. There are many different elements to Nine but Rob Marshall brought them all together like a magician. What he did with this movie is going to blow people away and I think we all felt lucky to be part of it."

Maury Yeston says he was blown away by the non-theatrical cast's ability to so fully embody his lyrics and songs. "I was very much impressed with the quality of the vocal performances. They are poetic, lyrical and truly moving," he comments.

Adds Marc Platt: "The skill of Rob Marshall, John De Luca and their terrific team of co-choreographers and vocal coaches allowed each of our cast members to realise their full potential. In each of these extraordinary actors was always the ability to sing and dance, but the key was to allow them to feel safe and to have the confidence to give bravura performances that I think will be revelatory for audiences."

Adds Harvey Weinstein, "Outside our key crew of Dion Beebe, Colleen Atwood and John Myhre (who started with Rob Marshall on Chicago) I was the only one in this group that has worked with Rob Marhsall before. On Chicago I had the opportunity to observe Rob Marshall's process which is nothing less than exhausting to behold and it was the same on Nine, actually maybe even harder. If he's not on the floor working on the numbers with the dancers he's meeting with the music team listening to the musical numbers and making tweaks or meeting with his designers or working with his cast. On Chicago he directed 3 big movie stars on this movie he's directing 8! Rob Marshall has that rare talent; if he's working with 5 or 500 people; each of those people will feel they have his full attention, respect and those people will go out and give their all to delivery for Rob Marshall."

Sophia Loren, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench Nine Part 2

www.femail.com.au/sophia-loren-penelope-cruz-judi-dench-nine.htm





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