When Catherine (Nicole Kidman) and Matthew Parker’s (Joseph Fiennes) two teenage children suddenly vanish in a dust storm, the couple’s relationship is pushed to the brink as they confront the mystery of their children’s disappearance in the soaring desert heat. Also stars Hugo Weaving.
STRANGERLAND features an ensemble cast of accomplished actors including Australia’s Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman. Remarkably, STRANGERLAND is Nicole’s first lead role in an independent Australian film since Dead Calm in 1989. Her casting was a pivotal and exciting moment for the filmmakers.
In theaters and available on VOD on July 10, 2015.
For director Kim Farrant it wasn’t just the case of finding a star but finding the right actor for the role. “Nicole’s Australian agent had the script and I got a call suddenly saying Nicole wants to meet with you. I was in the States so I flew to Nashville and met her and she loved it. She loved the rawness of the writing and of the characters unravelling. I think it was an opportunity for her to explore her incredible vulnerability. We spent a lot of time on the phone telling stories to each other and building trust and opening up. She’s the most hardworking actor I’ve ever met. She knew the script back to front. She would really interrogate me, which I loved, and she was very open to trying stuff.”
“It means a great deal for Nicole to come back to Australia and do a film like this,” says producer Macdara Kelleher. “ A film that is really Australian, set in the outback and has all of the iconic elements of great Australian films that have come before it.”
Nicole Kidman says: “I’m very much a supporter of the Australian film industry because it’s what I come from and to be able to go back and make films there with people that are just starting out is a huge honour, it really is. And particularly with somebody like Kim who hasn’t made a film before and was kind of thrown in the deep end – I love people who just jump in.”
“Also I loved working with an Australian crew, most of the Australians working on it I either know or are sons or daughters of people that I’ve worked with! There’s such a power to Australian crews, they’re very willing, they’re very able and they’re very passionate, and I love making movies there. It’s my home; it’s where I came from. It’s my base.”
Producer Naomi Wenck says: “It was such a privilege to work with Nicole, she’s a consummate professional and her powerful performance speaks for itself. She really lives and breathes the character of Catherine.”
Starring opposite Nicole are Joseph Fiennes, in the role of husband Matthew, and Hugo Weaving as the town detective Rae. “You can only ever dream of having this kind of cast in an independent film. It elevates the material so much.” says screenwriter Michael Kinirons.
For Director Kim Farrant, the casting of these two roles was integral to the film. “I’d worked with Hugo on the very first bit of cinema that I ever directed in 1995. In casting him I wanted someone who really inhabited their sexuality, like a man who was owning it, in contrast to the character of Matthew, played by Joe (Joseph) Fiennes, who is disowning his sexuality. When you met Hugo he’s so sensual. And that was really fantastic for this character of Rae, who’s got a girlfriend, got an active sex life, and then meets this woman and gets transfixed by her emotional life. So that was the kind of journey for him of opening him up emotionally.”
Nicole Kidman and Hugo last starred together in Kennedy Miller’s Bangkok Hilton back in 1989. For her it was a treat to work with him again. “I love Hugo. He’s one of the great, great Australian actors and you just learn being in a room with him. He is very particular about what he does and is very particular about the performances he gives.”
The character of Matthew was a source of much discussion and debate in the script writing process. “Because people judged this man so much and that’s what we wanted.” explains Kim. “He’s both proud and deeply ashamed that he hasn’t been a good enough parent. It’s frightening to play a man who’s isolating and judgmental and angry and withholding. But Joseph was so willing to explore the dark side of this character and he gave that to me the entire way. He came to the project last. I had 11 years on it at that point; he had 11 days before we started filming. And he just showed up with so much passion and humanity for this character.”
For producer Macdara Kelleher having Joseph play the role was ideal. “Because
Joseph’s character is an outsider in the town, but also a little bit of an outsider even in his own family, it works really nicely that he’s not an Australian.”
In her feature film debut, Maddison Brown shines as the daughter Lily, a highly sexualised teenager, on the cusp of womanhood: “Casting Lily was crucial , because we had this fine balance of this character who you want people to have an imprint of so that they care that she’s missing and, at the same time, she’s not in it for very long,” says Kim.
“We had to find a girl who was like that, but with that amazing burgeoning sexuality – as she’s a child and a woman at the same time. Maddison was the first actor I saw for the part. I saw over a hundred girls from Australia, America, Paris and London, and she just kept sticking with me. She was so effervescent and sexy and powerful and yet, at the same time, very innocent.” After seven call backs, Maddison got the role.
Producer Naomi Wenck explains: “We had a wonderful casting agent, Nikki Barrett, who was absolutely key in helping us pull together all of the supporting cast. We’ve got such a strong team with Lisa Flanagan, Meyne Wyatt, the lovely Nicholas Hamilton as Tommy, and of course Maddison Brown as the stunning Lily. It was an amazing process and Nikki was a great collaborator.”