Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen take the small screen by storm in the dramatic love story about writer Ernest Hemingway and his love, war journo Martha Gellhorn, in the HBO movie Hemingway & Gellhorn.

In HBO’s new movie drama, Hemingway & Gellhorn, Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen recount the joys and agony of love from the perspective of one of the greatest romances of the last century, the passionate love affair and tumultuous marriage of literary master Ernest Hemingway and trailblazing war correspondent Martha Gellhorn.

The film follows the adventurous writers from Florida to Spain to Cuba, through the Spanish Civil War, the Japanese invasion of China and beyond. The combined magnetism of Hemingway and Gellhorn ushered them into social circles that included the elite of Hollywood, the aristocracy of the literary world and the First Family of the United States. As witnesses to history, they covered all the great conflicts of their time, but the war they couldn’t survive was the war between themselves.

On diving into the role, Kidman told HBO that she immediately fell in love with the character once she read the script. “I actually didn’t know anything about her,” Kidman said. “I was [at an event] with Phil Kaufman (Exec. Producer) whose wife had recently passed away and I knew that he and she had this incredible love story in their life and their work. When I went back to LA, I asked my agent, ‘Isn’t there anything Philip Kaufman’s working on?’ There wasn’t at the moment but then my agent sent me the script and said, ‘This isn’t for you, but Phil has been working on this with Jerry Stahl. And I read it and said: ‘I want to do it!’ And that was the beginning of a long process. We had to wait for Clive for a year. We were so committed to the story that we agreed to wait. I don’t believe in deadlines and time lines. I believe there are other things involved in the destiny of a project.”

So what does Kidman think of true, long lasting love? “Though I do believe all relationships end, it’s just, how do they end?” she admits. “Some end through death. Some end through choice. Some end when one person wants it to end and the other doesn’t. But they do all end sometime. To fear the end?  I come back to fear. I think Hemingway and Gellhorn didn’t bring out the best in each other. They may have in their work, but in their personal life they didn’t. And that’s a pretty hard thing to stay in through the duration of your life. But they were certainly riveting. It was so great playing her.

Hemingway & Gellhorn also stars David Strathairn (John Dos Passos), Rodrigo Santoro (Zarra), Molly Parker (Pauline), Parker Posey (Mary Welsh), Santiago Cabrera (Robert Capa), Lars Ulrich (Joris Ivens), Peter Coyote (Maxwell Perkins), Joan Chen (Madame Chiang), and Tony Shalhoub (Koltsov). The film is executive produced by Peter Kaufman, Trish Hofmann, James Gandolfini, Alexandra Ryan and Barbara Turner.


Hemingway & Gellhorn air Monday, May 28 at 9 p.m. (et) on HBO and HBO Canada


—Toni-Marie Ippolito

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