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RABBIT HOLE

About The Production
In RABBIT HOLE, a family faces a crisis that changes everything. Everything except the fact that they are still a family, just as entangled by love, humor, anger, need, rivalry, blame and hope as they ever were.

The Corbett family's safe, comfortable world may have been turned upside down since the death of their young son. But it is their connections that remain – no matter how absurd, awkward or hanging by a thread – that form their lifeline. It is these relationships that render their story into not only a moving portrait of loss and grief, but also an unexpected journey into the raw, funny and surprising human moments that keep us all fighting to regain one's life in the face of tragedy

Olympus Pictures, Blossom Films and OddLot Entertainment present RABBIT HOLE. The film, a departure for director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) – and featuring a cast passionately drawn to the material, including Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Dianne Wiest – was adapted for the screen by acclaimed playwright David Lindsay-Abaire from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The producers are Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech, Nicole Kidman, Per Saari and Gigi Pritzker; executive producers are Daniel Revers, Bill Lischak, Linda McDonough and Brian O'Shea.

Lindsay-Abaire's play took the New York stage by storm in 2006. It was a wholly unanticipated work from an artist who then was best known for his madcap twists on the screwball comedy with such pieces as Fuddy Meers and Kimberly Akimbo. Yet, while RABBIT HOLE explored the more serious subject of a young family upended by a random accident, and was far more palpably real than anything Lindsay-Abaire had done before, the story did not go in a conventional direction.

With a complete lack of sentimentality, Lindsay-Abaire created Becca and Howie Corbett as a couple full of wit and bite, and smart enough to know they're not going to have any soaring, grand, Hollywood-style triumph over loss, no matter how much they want it. Instead, their story became about the way people really cope with tragedy – awkwardly, stubbornly, sarcastically, and in fits and starts of forgiveness and reconciliation that come out of nowhere, only to move them slowly, achingly forward towards an altered, but still cherished, life.

The very name of the play – suggesting Alice In Wonderland's famous dive into an extraordinary, unfamiliar realm where impossible things happen – evokes the surreal experience of grief, which leaves nearly everyone who encounters it feeling like a stranger in a strange land.

Lindsay-Abaire not only created a very true-to-life couple caught up in this off-kilter world, but he created them as emotional polar opposites. Private, carefully controlled Becca wants to put away the past and all the relationships in it, yet reaches out to the teenager who inadvertently caused the accident. Meanwhile her husband Howie grasps onto memories and friendships, and tries to find comfort in their marriage.

Then the playwright surrounded the pair with a cast of flawed characters who help to bring them home again. Equally key to the story was Becca's wilder sister Izzy, who in an awkward twist of timing announces her pregnancy; Becca's mother Nat, who so desperately wants to help ease her daughter's sorrow yet only seems to frustrate her; and Jason, the teenage boy whose own life unraveled when he accidentally hit the Corbett's son with his car and is now as lost as they are. All of them are left ill at ease, and yet together, they uncover hard-won moments of humor and grace that might be the small steps toward a life they can someday recognize again.

RABBIT HOLE garnered five Tony® nominations including Best Play, won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Lindsay-Abaire and quickly became internationally renowned. Meanwhile Oscar®-winning actress and producer Nicole Kidman became intrigued with the play before she even saw it – so intrigued that RABBIT HOLE would become the first project she produced and starred in for her company Blossom Films.

Producer Per Saari, Kidman's partner in Blossom Films, recalls: "Nicole, who was in Australia at the time, read a review of the play and thought it sounded like the kind of material we wanted to support: powerful, human drama coming from a new and talented voice in the form of David Lindsay-Abaire. Nicole and I had a good feeling about it. Determined to see the show before it was discovered by Hollywood, I flew to New York on the eve of the worst blizzard to hit the city. I ended stranded there for almost a week, but it was time well spent.”

As soon as he saw RABBIT HOLE on stage, Saari understood why critics were so excited by its deft, dry, humor-laced approach to tough topics that are often undone by sentimentality. "The play was raw and it didn't shy away from the truth of what grief is, but it was also hopeful and it was funny – humor and new beginnings, of course, being a big part tragedy,” Saari says. "Having lost my father and my brother recently, watching the play was a tremendously clarifying experience: ‘oh yeah, I remember that,' or ‘I've never been able to put that experience into words, but there it is.' It was like David had written the perfect sentence with the perfect words defining what loss is, and yet it all had such humanity and character.”

Kidman had a similar reaction. "I believed in the subject matter,” she says, "and I like to champion stories that are hard to get made. I was just really captivated by this couple who share an extraordinary, deep tragedy and yet they react in such very different ways. They have to grieve in their own ways and yet still live together. I found that very fascinating and I really wanted to play Becca, who was so brilliantly brought to life on Broadway by Cynthia Nixon. I was so excited to help introduce that character to a movie-going audience.”

When Saari met with Lindsay-Abaire, the playwright was ready to jump in. "I never quite felt like I was finished with the characters in RABBIT HOLE,” the writer confesses. "So when Per and Nicole approached me, the idea of exploring them from the new perspective of a film really excited me as a writer.”

He continues: "Right away, Per told me they wanted me to feel the same sense of ownership as I had with the play. Of course, writers are never told that, but they were true to their word. I was involved at every turn, and not a single line of what I wrote was changed. Ultimately, everyone who came onto the project – John Cameron Mitchell and the truly amazing cast – contributed so much to it. I was indebted to them but I always felt like I was in there, too, and that was a real gift.”

"Supporting the artist is a priority for Nicole and me,” explains Saari, "and I think we all saw eye to eye on the importance of maintaining this project's integrity from beginning to end. David was a part of the family from that meeting onwards.”

Also joining the new team were producers Leslie Urdang and Dean Vanech of Olympus Pictures, who took a lead role in bringing the project to the screen. Says Saari, "Nicole and I were lucky to be partnered with Leslie and Dean, who were also the film's financiers, along with OddLot. Leslie is well versed in the language of smaller-budgeted films and everyday they proved to us what could be done for little or no money. Even a project whose stars seem aligned has something each day that threatens to shut it down – swine flu, a freak New York tornado – and Leslie was there with her smile and her dozen independent films under her belt to remind us that this is the way of indie filmmaking. You just keep on moving forward.”

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