David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Gone Girl) is one of the most infamous perfectionists in the American film industry. He plans his films inside out, and has been known to labour over the smallest details in every single scene. This cinematic studiousness also extends to the always complicated process of casting, so when Fincher picked Nicole Kidman to take on the lead role in his 2002 thriller, Panic Room – in which she would play a mother bravely fighting off a gang of home invaders – the director obviously really wanted her. After two weeks of shooting, however, Kidman had to pull out of the physically demanding role when she aggravated a lingering knee injury that she had sustained during the shoot of Baz Luhrmann’s musical, Moulin Rouge! With a looming actors’ strike, Fincher was in a bind, with most big name stars already booked into upcoming projects. The director even suggested that the studio close the production and collect the insurance, but they decided to go on. Luckily for the director, another performer’s bad luck would end up resulting in his good fortune. Oscar winner, Jodie Foster, was all set to roll on her second film as director – the quirky circus based drama, Flora Plum – but had to shut the production down when her leading man – Nicole Kidman’s friend and fellow Antipodean, Russell Crowe – suffered a painful shoulder injury while preparing for his role as an acrobat in the film. “I remember emailing Russell saying, ‘I’m doing Nicole’s movie – how ironic is that?’ With Flora Plum being shut down, Panic Room got to continue,” Jodie Foster told FilmInk in 2005.
Would It Have Worked?
While she lacks Jodie Foster’s inherent steeliness and strength, the more vulnerable Nicole Kidman (whose voice actually appears in the film on a telephone answering machine message) could have made for an equally likeable heroine, and would have done nothing to detract from Panic Room’s icy, expertly paced thrills.