From 1996 – 2000, I met dozens of celebrities while working in the West Coast bureau of Premiere Magazine and later, at Us Weekly. These interviews ran the gamut from 30 seconds on the red carpet (Leonardo DiCaprio) to an hour on set (George Clooney). And of course, there were many stars I never interviewed or even saw – not ever in the entire time I worked in Hollywood (Julia Roberts). In Celebrity Flashback, I’ll share the details of one of those close encounters.
In my brief Hollywood experience, I found that the bigger the star, the nicer they were.
In 1999, there were few stars bigger than Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Tom was a megastar, at his peak. Nicole was major in her own right by then, having earned serious cred in Portrait of a Lady. The couple had just made Eyes Wide Shut with Stanley Kubrick. They had reportedly grown very close to the legendary director, who had died that March, just after wrapping. I interviewed Nicole on the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of that movie.
It was July 1999 and the premiere was held at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood Village on UCLA’s campus, just off Sunset Boulevard. It was a regular movie theater most nights of the week but movie premieres were held there pretty frequently. It about five minutes from my 1-room studio apartment in West L.A.
The sun hadn’t gone down yet and she and Tom were graciously working their way down the red carpet, hands tightly entwined. Tom led the way with Nicole trailing behind, both guided by their publicist as always. Tom got past me but stopped to talk to the reporter immediately next to me. That put Nicole right in front of me.
By this time, I’d been working in L.A., visiting sets and covering premieres for about 3 years. Let me say, not all Hollywood stars are beautiful in person. Some were quite ordinary looking. Or wrinkly, with tell-tale cigarette lines around their mouth. But Nicole, she was lovely.
She was tall and slender but solid – not frail. She was wearing a flimsy, backless bordeaux camisole and matching mini-skirt that revealed long, toned legs and a slice of toned, white midriff. It seemed like her pale skin had never seen the sun. There was no sign of lip injections or Botox then; she was just flat-out flawless.
I’m sorry to tell you, reader, I cannot for the life of me remember the questions I asked any of these people. I probably couldn’t have told you a week after actually interviewing them. I definitely can’t recall now.
I do remember Nicole confided that she’d picked out the outfit herself at some shop and now wasn’t so sure about it. She was showing a lot of skin that evening. She told me she was freezing. But she seemed happy and light-hearted.
So while stars like Winona, Uma, and Gwyneth were on the icy side (sorry Gwen! I do love your cookbook), Nicole was warm and friendly and kinda vulnerable — like your best girlfriend who second-guesses her outfit after arriving at the party. She was holding Tom’s hand the whole time we talked. I kept thinking he’d end his conversation and join us. Didn’t happen.
P.S. In my Winona post, I mentioned that I often got to go in and watch the movie with the stars after working the red carpet at premieres. That didn’t happen here. There was so much secrecy and build-up with this movie, it was nearly impossible to get into an advance screening.