First Look: Nicole Kidman Captures the Style and Moods of Princess Grace in ‘Grace of Monaco’

Mark Deming
Movie Talk

Grace Kelly was one of the most beautiful and enduring stars of her era, the movie queen who literally gave up Hollywood to become a princess. Now director Olivier Dahan is bringing an episode from her life to the big screen, with Nicole Kidman playing Princess Grace, and the first images from the upcoming film have been released.

The Hollywood Reporter has published three stills from "Grace of Monaco," and the images suggest Dahan and Kidman are presenting the character as a woman who was beautiful and glamorous, but still very human.

In one still, Grace is seen standing on a balcony, shot from below so she looks small and somewhat helpless in her surroundings. Another is a headshot, with Kidman staring directly into the camera, with that seems like a note of defiance, as golden light covers part of her face. And finally, the third image captures Grace not far from the seashore, a bustling city seen behind her as she travels incognito in a yellow coat and sunglasses, with a polka-dot scarf covering her hair.

The stills make it clear that Dahan isn't worried about trying to make Kidman look like the very image of Princess Grace. Instead, the pictures capture her style and fashion sense and let the actress fill out the character from there. Speaking about the role and the story to Yahoo's Thelma Adams, Kidman said, "There was such a refined quality to Grace. It’s lovely to embody that. That feels good. It’s only a small period of her life, four or five months."

And while it's hard to judge a performance from three stills, "Grace of Monaco" will deal with a difficult period in the life of Grace and her husband Prince Rainier III (played by Tim Roth), and the images suggest Dahan and Kidman are eager to bring out the full emotional range of the Princess.

"I’m so in it, to objectify her character would be hard," Kidman told Adams during the film's production. "I still look like her while I’m talking to you. I’m still all done up like her. It’s basically a French film. I love working with the French. I’ve been in Monaco and I’ve been in Nice and Paris. We’ve been shooting for two and a half months, and have another month to go."

Director Dahan is no stranger to putting the true-life stories of iconic women on film; he previously directed "La Vie en Rose," which earned Marion Cotillard an Oscar for her performance as legendary vocalist Edith Piaf. In "Grace of Monaco," he focuses on a period in the early 1960s when Monaco was at odds with France as Prince Rainier III and French leader Charles De Gaulle became rivals. This situation took its toll on Grace as the public face of the nation, and didn’t ease tensions in her troubled marriage, particularly when Alfred Hitchcock offered her a chance to return to Hollywood to star in his film "Marnie."

In addition to Kidman and Roth, "Grace of Monaco" also features Frank Langella, Parker Posey, and Derek Jacobi, and Kidman spoke with enthusiasm about her co-stars. "Frank Langella plays my priest, and Tim Roth plays my husband, Prince Rainier III," Kidman said. "That’s the greatest thing. I love working with the actors … I’ve done a lot of films and it’s still really fun. I look at Frank [Langella] and he’s there giving everything every day and he still has the enthusiasm and curiosity of a twenty-year-old. I would hope that’s what I’d bring. I don’t want to become jaded."

"Grace of Monaco" is scheduled to be released in December in time to qualify for the Academy Awards; while the movie won't be ready for the upcoming Cannes Film Festival, rumor has it that The Weinstein Company, who will be distributing the picture, will screen some footage from the work-in-progress to generate early publicity for what they believe will be a major player in the coming award season.