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About The Characters
At the very heart of The Interpreter lies the mysterious and compelling character of Silvia Broome, a typically anonymous translator for the U.N. who becomes the unwitting center of an international crisis when she overhears a killer's plan to assassinate an African head of state. Having studied music in Johannesburg, philosophy at the Sorbonne and linguistics in Spain, Silvia is brilliant, worldly and devoted to the art of diplomacy—but underneath, she is haunted by a dark, terror-stricken past that has made her doubt the safety of the world.

Sydney Pollack only ever had one actress in mind to play Silvia. "I always saw Nicole Kidman in this role,” says Pollack, "in part because she isn't American and there's something inherently exotic and intelligent about her. You can truly believe her as someone who has grown up in Southern Africa and is fluent in several languages. Silvia is someone who believes in the power of words. She believes they can become as powerful as bullets or weapons.”

Pollack had previously worked with Kidman in other capacities—co-starring with her in Stanley Kubrick's final film, Eyes Wide Shut, and producing Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain—but looked forward to collaborating more closely with her as a director. Kidman felt similarly. "Sydney and I have had so many conversations about wanting to work together,” she comments. "Basically, it was always me saying ‘Sydney, please, please direct me in a movie!' So when this script came along, I was really excited. I especially loved the idea of doing a political thriller with Sydney, who's made such great films in this genre, and I thought it was a really good match.”

Despite her own Academy Award® and bevy of accolades, Kidman also admits she felt a little intimidated. "When I think of Sydney Pollack's films, I also think of all the really incredible women he's directed, which made me a little concerned. But I discovered that he has this very nurturing quality when working with actors,” she comments. "And one of the beautiful things about this movie is that all the roles are so complex that there is just an enormous amount to bite into for everyone in the cast.”

Kidman was especially attracted to the film's moody, understated love story which runs as an undercurrent to the suspense. "I was very interested in all the things happening inside the suspense, and this story about what happens when two people who have suffered a lot of loss, and are very afraid of being damaged further, meet…and have to try to trust one another,” she says. "Silvia and Tobin develop such an unusual relationship, and it turns out to be much stronger than they could have imagined when they first meet. The Interpreter is very much a thriller and filled with constant twists and surprises, but I think it's also ultimately a story about forgiveness and justice, and those are two really integral parts of human life.”

The rarely observed lives of U.N. interpreters further fascinated Kidman. Considered one of the most intellectually demanding and stressful professions—after all, with just one ill-chosen word, they could provoke an international crisis—U.N. interpreters have to be able to perform mental gymnastics at lightning pace, attain the highest levels of cultural savvy and maintain total, single-pointed focus on a daily basis. They are almost without fail highly intelligent, often musically trained (a "good ear” being essential for the work) and extensively educated. The minimum number of languages a U.N. interpreter must speak is three but many speak five, six, seven or more. Working alone in soundproof booths, the profession is notoriously lonely and demands strength of character, which is something that helps to keep Silvia Broome alive under the perilous circumstances that suddenly surround her.

Kidman saw many of the typical qualities

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