The new film from director John Cameron Mitchell, How to Talk to Girls at Parties, is based on Neil Gaiman’s short story about three teenage boys who stumble upon a group of human-like aliens gathered in a London suburb for a rite of passage. What unfolds is the love story between Enn (Alex Sharp), a shy suburban London teenager, and Zan (Elle Fanning), a beautiful and rebellious teenage alien who becomes fascinated with her human suitor. Together they embark on an ecstatic adventure through the kinetic punk rock world of 1970’s London.
The movie also stars Joanna Scanlan, Ruth Wilson, Matt Lucas, and Nicole Kidman. This marks the first time Kidman and Mitchell have worked together since 2010’s Rabbit Hole, which the actress got an Oscar nod for playing a mother who is overcoming the sudden death of her 4-year-old son. In the new alien film, Kidman plays the role of punk Queen Boadicea, who mentors Zan and helps lead a crusade against the aliens in defense of Enn.
“I hadn’t really seen her do a role like this and I thought it would be perfect,” Mitchell told ET, adding that the two have “always tried to find something to do again together. She’s offered me a lot of wonderful things, but I didn’t feel strongly about them as Rabbit Hole.”
The movie is Mitchell’s fourth feature film as a director. He previously directed Hedwig and the Angry Inch, in which he also starred, and Shortbus.
“I’ve always wanted to make a YA story for myself when I was that age. In some ways, this is the story for the 16-year-old misfit in all of us,” he explained.
For Kidman, it was a matter of getting her schedule to work. She was busy with 2015 West End production of Photograph 51, but fortunately, the timing worked out, Mitchell said, “We were rehearsing in her dressing room because she finished the play and immediately shot with us.”
The 50-year-old actress got a lot of media attention when she was spotted filming the movie in December 2015, comparing her spiky, gray-and-black wig and punk ensemble to David Bowie’s Labyrinth.
“As soon as I met with costume designer Sandy Powell and she showed me this look she had for me and I put on the clothes, I thought it was fantastic,” Kidman told Croydon Advertiser.