In a time where leaks from a film set are commonplace, either from anonymous sources or the Instagram accounts of the stars themselves, it’s hard to imagine a secretive director like Stanley Kubrick bringing A-list actors like Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman to London for two years to film an erotic psychological thriller on the sly. But from the winter of 1996 to the beginning of 1999, that’s exactly what happened.
At the time, Cruise and Kidman were the biggest A-list couple in Hollywood. Every movie Cruise touched turned to box-office gold, and Kidman had established herself as a formidable onscreen presence with mesmerizing roles in films like To Die For and Malice. Kubrick, who hadn't made a movie since 1987, had disappeared into his estate in London and was rumored to be spending his days re-editing his decades-old films.
Kubrick’s work on Eyes Wide Shut wasn’t unlike the rest of his oeuvre. As usual, the filming schedule was prolonged and full of monotonous takes that made the actors question their entire reason for being. The distinction, however, was in the specific way he worked with Cruise and Kidman, leveraging their real-life relationship to create a thorny metatextual dimension to the couple they portrayed on screen. With their near-absolute fealty at his disposal, Kubrick probed and prodded the two stars, forging an intimate and volatile dynamic that bled right onto the screen in what would be the legendary director's final work.