Was Eyes Wide Shut -- Stanley Kubrick's deeply creepy, intense thriller about the sexual exploits of a fraught married couple that took two years to film --- the nail in the coffin for Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's union?
Not so, Kidman herself recalls in a frank new essay, a tribute to the late film director, in The Hollywood Reporter.
Kubrick, who died in March 1999 before the film opened, was a legendarily challenging director, but Kidman, 45, writes that she relished the work; many have speculated that the unrelenting shoot caused Kidman and Cruise's marriage to unravel for good. (They divorced in 2000.)
"My approach to the two-year shoot was actually very Zen. Tom and I thought, 'We're so lucky, we've gotten to spend two years with the master.'" the Oscar winner says.
"People thought that making the film was the beginning of the end of my marriage -- but I don't really think it was," says Kidman, who shares kids Conor, 17, and Isabella, 19, with Cruise, 50. "Tom and I were close then, and it was very much the three of us."
The actress was well-aware that Kubrick was playing up the famous couple's real-life relationship for the kinky flick.
"Onscreen, the husband and wife are at odds, and Stanley wanted to use our marriage as a supposed reality. That was Stanley: He used the movie as provocation, pretending it was our sex life," says Kidman, now happily married to Keith Urban. "Which we weren't oblivious to, but obviously it wasn't us. We both decided to dedicate ourselves to a great filmmaker and artist."
Learning of Kubrick's death was devastating, Kidman admits. "That was one of the worst calls -- I just started screaming; I had Isabella and Connor in the kitchen with me. Tom and I immediately got on a plane. The funeral was so traumatic. I truly loved Stanley and felt very connected to him."
This article originally appeared on Usmagazine.com: Nicole Kidman: Filming Eyes Wide Shut "Wasn't the End of My Marriage" to Tom Cruise