The Stars of Australia
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
Oprah says Australia made her laugh, cry and sit on the edge of her seat. "It literally swept me off my feet," she says. "You just don't get to see movies like this anymore."
The Oprah Show set has been staged to make its stars feel right at home, set as a replica of the '30s cattle station in the outback where parts of Australia took place.
Although the actors were filming in their home country, they were still miles away from their home turf of Sydney.
Watch how the cast and crew lived while filming Australia.
The role required the actors to be out in 110-degree weather, often on horseback. "And I fainted, of course, one day," Nicole says. Fortunately, Nicole says someone standing next to her was able to catch her before any damage was done! "I didn't break my nose or anything."
Nicole says her father came up with half of Sunday Rose's unique name when he mentioned Sunday Reed, a patron of the arts. "And we went, 'Oh, we love that day'—that's our favorite day because I think there's something to do with Sundays where if you're lonely, Sundays are a very lonely day," Nicole says. "And if you're happy and you've got your family and the things around you, then Sunday's a beautiful day. So our baby's called Sunday."
In the past, Nicole says she thought she would never be able to give birth. So when she found out she was pregnant, she says she was stunned. "I call her a miracle baby because it was a miracle that I, at this age, had spent so many years trying to get [pregnant] just thought, 'Well, it's not my path—that's not what I'm going to get to experience.'"
Nicole says she was still filming Australia when she found out she was pregnant—and it may have been thanks to a little magic involved while filming on location. While shooting in Kununurra, Australia, Nicole says she and six other women took a dip in a remote watering hole. Later, all seven woman became pregnant! "So we would joke that there was something in the water," Nicole says.
When Sunday Rose was born, Nicole says she was surrounded by her husband and nine women—including family members, a female doctor and a doula. Just talking about the birth makes Nicole emotional. "I think something happens when you give birth ... I cry so easily now, and I don't know why. It seems something triggered me."
Nicole says Bella and Connor are adjusting well to the new addition. "They have Suri, so they have got now just another baby sister," she says. "But they're very used to having children around. They've had kids around them because they grew up with cousins, Suri and now Sunday Rose."
Recently, Nicole says Keith celebrated two years of sobriety. Keith is doing well, and Nicole says she loves being married. "I'm the marrying kind. I like to be married," she says. "Really, for me, I feel safe and I feel protected. I like to have my man that I focus on."
Baz, also a native Australian, was already well-known for his big-production films like Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. After working with Baz on Moulin Rouge!, Nicole says she was so convinced of his talent that she signed on to Australia before a script even existed. "He just called me up and said, 'I'm thinking about this film.' And I'm like, 'I'm in. I'm yours,'" she says. "Because I feel also that there are directors that bring out something in you that nobody else brings out."
Nicole says Baz may have an unusual take on things, but his passion and love of romance translate into magnificent films. "He just views the world in a very unique way."
In Australia, Hugh plays a rugged cattle driver named The Drover, a character that has him earning comparisons to the legendary Clark Gable. Although Drover is a match for any man or beast, he's no match for Lady Ashley—and the two discover a love that cannot be.
Hugh says he was right on board with Baz. "All of these movies are about love, about passion, about making the most of everything in life that matters, you know?" he says.
Hugh says Oscar would routinely go off playing with the other kids in the cast. They'd go hunting, do rock painting and eat bugs and plants, Hugh says. Oscar was having so much fun that he cried when it was time to leave. "He said, 'I don't want to go back to the city.' The city was Kununurra, a town of about a thousand people," Hugh says. "For him, that became the city."
Nicole's son, Connor, spent time on the Australia shoot as well. "He worked with the horses, and he learned to crack a stock whip too," she says. "He'd come home and he'd say, 'Look at my blisters!'"
Nicole says acting in these scenes requires a tremendous amount of trust. "A lot of it is still creating a mystery between you so that there is chemistry, because you don't want it to be like, 'How you doing, mate?' I mean, not when you're playing a love story," she says. "You commit to the love of the moment in the scene, and then you walk away from it and you go back to your life. But you have to make it believable in that moment in the sunset."
Hugh agrees that trust is crucial, and it's always easier to place your trust in a friend. "I feel like I could tell her anything. So even if it is awkward, I can say, 'This feels really awkward,'" he says. "It's kind of awkward when you have 70 people watching you."
"The whole thing is weird, and you just ignore it and move on," Nicole says.
Watch Hugh give a tour of his hometown.
By land...sea...and air, Hugh takes us sight-seeing—from famous attractions like Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House to the rugged natural beauty of Australia.
"This is unbelievable," Hugh says. "What a day!"
Nicole says after brunch at Bill's, her weekend plans in Sydney also include a trip to the Blue Mountains.
Read about Nicole and Hugh's favorite places Down Under.
"You think it's hard getting through customs with nail scissors? Try getting through with over 300 packages of Tim Tams," Hugh jokes.
Not to be outdone, Nicole has a favorite treat from her new hometown of Nashville to share too—Goo Goo Clusters. "Our audience is going to be climbing up the walls," Oprah jokes.
Baz's deliriously inventive movies—Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge!—are unlike anything else you've seen in a movie theater. He says his larger-than-life stories stem from his love of old-school Hollywood.
"I grew up in a very small country town—11 houses, in fact. We had the petrol station—gas station, you call it—and we also had the cinema for a little while. I got to sit there watching all kinds of classic movies. I fell in love with musicals, but my other great love was the sweeping epic," he says. "I'm not pretending we're Gone with the Wind, but a film like Gone with the Wind has something for everyone. It's a really inclusive, big film. It has comedy and romance and action and drama."
Photo: Twentieth Century Fox
"Part of the reason I wanted to do a film about my home country was to come to understand the indigenous story in Australia," Baz says. "One of the most difficult parts of our history was the time when mixed-race Aboriginal children were taken by the government from their families and put into institutions to make them into Europeans. This has been a big issue, and it's called the Stolen Generation."
Baz explains that they found Brandon after an extensive search. His casting team combed through 10,000 boys, then Baz went on the road to see 200 more. Finally, they found Brandon living with his family on traditional Aborigine land. "There's a truth and an innocence in him. He looks through the camera; he doesn't see it," Baz says. "It's not really acting. It's kind of beyond acting—he's just being. And I think for that reason, in the film, you really trust and believe him. And it's a beautiful quality that we were so privileged and lucky to find."
"'At the end of the day, all you've got is your story, so try to make it a good one,'" Baz says, quoting a line from Australia. "Hugh and Nicole and I, we've been on an incredible story and a journey, and if it can put a little bit of good spirit and hope and joy out in the world at this time, then it's been worthwhile."
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