Nicole Kidman saved Hugh Jackman from a poisonous scorpion on the set of their new movie while the actress was about to join Hugh in the bag, she noticed the poisonous scorpion crawling up his leg. She calmly told him not to move and squatted down, scooped the arachnid into her hat and walked over to the woods and released it. Everyone applauded but was asked why she hadn't just stomped on it. She said, 'I would never kill an animal. Every creature here has its purpose. This one just didn't belong in Hugh's bag!' "
Nicole Kidman revealed that she agreed to star in the film without reading the script. Hugh Jackman stated in an interview for 60 Minutes (1979), which aired on Sunday the 16th of October 2008, that Nicole told Hugh he had to be in the movie at a Super Bowl party, and when Hugh told her he didn't even have a script Nicole told him to forget the script, because Baz Luhrmann was directing.
Even though the filming schedule was pushed back a half year, Nicole Kidman never lost her faith in the project and instead prepared for the role, by touring the country with her family, riding horses and even castrating bulls.
Nicole Kidman, who dislikes watching herself on screen, said of her performance: "I can't look at this movie and be proud of what I've done...It's just impossible for me to connect to it emotionally at all". However, she has expressed great enthusiasm about being part of the project and very much enjoyed the performance of her co-stars.
Filming on the project finally began in spring 2007 and went on for nine hard months. Baz Luhrmann approached the filming with obsessive resolve. He constantly shot and re-shot scenes until he got it just the way he wanted. This obsessive attention to detail caused the project to go over budget and caused several scheduling problems. To further the production's difficulties, Australia itself was not very cooperative. On one occasion, the largest and most expensive of the sets for the film was completely flooded when huge rain showers hit a part of the country that rarely gets any rain at all. On other occasions, filming had to be delayed for days on end because of bad weather or poor lighting. Every delay was especially costly on this project, since Luhrmann employed hundreds of crew members and had a herd of fifteen hundred cattle that needed to be fed and cared for. This completely drained the budget allotted for the movie and production had to be improvised. Director was forced to go begging for more money and certain compromises had to be made. He even had to move the filming of the final scenes of the movie from Darwin, where they were supposed to take place, to Bowen because the local government provided him with 500,000 dollars to film there.
Brandon Walters was discovered by Baz Luhrmann, who had been searching for a young boy to play the important role of Nullah for over 12 months, through a series of nationwide radio call outs in Australia. After a series of workshops at Fox Studios Australia, Luhrmann and his team traveled to Broome and had the privilege of camping with Walter's family at 80 Mile Beach, WA. It was during this time that Luhrmann and the family decided they would take the leap and become involved in the film together.
Russell Crowe was attached as the lead during pre-production. 20th Century Fox executives wanted to reduce Crowe's salary considerably, in order to appease the film's budget. This decision compelled him to ultimately leave the project.
While promoting the film, Nicole Kidman angered Aboriginal groups after she tried to play a didgeridoo on a German talk show. Women are not permitted to play the traditional instrument under Aboriginal custom, while some Aboriginal people think that playing the instrument makes women infertile, and that Kidman would suffer the same fate. Kidman's only child after this incident was brought to the world via surrogacy.
Long-time friends Nicole Kidman and Baz Luhrmann agreed not to work together again following this film as their collaborations always collided with strong personal experiences: Luhrmann's father passed away on the first day of shooting Moulin Rouge! (2001), while Kidman went through her only successful pregnancy during the production of this film.
This film's opening prologue states: "After the bombing of Pearl Harbour on the 7th December 1941, the Imperial Japanese Navy steamed south, unleashing their fire on Darwin, a city in the Northern Territory of Australia. 'The Territory' was a land of crocodiles, cattle barons and warrior chiefs where adventure and romance was a way of life. It was also a place where Aboriginal children of mixed-race were taken by force from their families and trained for service in white society. These children became known as the Stolen Generations."
Faraway Downs was dismantled in 2011. An indigenous organization in Kimberley, Western Australia, claimed the place was located on their land and requested for it to be removed. Tourism Western Australia decided not to pursue a plan to retain Faraway Downs as a tourist attraction, despite a report which predicted it could attract as many as 90,000 visitors annually if restored with an Australia movie theme.
The orchestral score heard when Lady Ashley travels from England to Australia is an obvious homage to Johann Sebastian Bach's "Hunting Cantata" (BWV 208), especially the aria "Sheep may safely graze". Interestingly, Australian composer Percy Grainger used this cantata as a source of inspiration for some of his own compositions (Blithe Bells, 1931).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The word "billabong" is often mentioned in the movie, including regarding the key scene in which Lord Ashley is murdered. "Billabong" is an Australian term for a small lake, especially (but not only) one formed by a U-shaped bend in a river.
This film's closing epilogue states: "The [Australian] Government officially abandoned the Assimilation Project for Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory in 1973. In 2008, the Prime Minister of Australia offered a formal apology to the members of the Stolen Generations."