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RABBIT HOLE

Family History
As tilted as their world has become, Becca and Howie still have to deal with the rest of their family, including Becca's mother and sister who have no idea how to help her but nevertheless keep trying.

Becca's mother Nat, one of the stage play's most beloved characters, is an offbeat woman who is a little loopy, very funny and yet touchingly real. To play her, the filmmakers chose Dianne Wiest, a two-time Academy Award® winner for Bullets Over Broadway and Hannah and Her Sisters and a nominee for a very different look at maternal angst in Parenthood.

Wiest sank her teeth into Nat, portraying her as a woman who wants to say all the right things to her grieving daughter, but whose words never come out right. The good intentioned Nat does everything out of love and empathy. As the story unfolds, it is revealed that Nat also had a child who died, albeit under very different circumstances, and she knows more about this loss than Becca is willing to acknowledge.

"In casting Nat, we wanted someone who could be the glue of the story, in a way,” says Saari. "Dianne brings warmth to every role she plays. She's like a member of the family – everybody's family – that we turn to for wisdom and kindness.”

Lindsay-Abaire was completely won over by Wiest's nuanced portrait. "Nat could be played as overbearing,” he notes, "but Dianne has this way of coming underneath all of her scenes and showing the hopefulness that is there inside of Nat. You see her desperation to do the right thing for her daughter, even if she has no idea what it is, and ultimately you see how she helps Becca move forward, even if it's just a single step.”

Tammy Blanchard, known for her work on Broadway, for her Emmy®-nominated role as Judy Garland in the telefilm Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, and for playing Matt Damon's deaf lover in The Good Shepherd, takes on the role of Becca's contrasting sister, Izzy.

Izzy is as rowdy, reckless and unsuccessful as Becca is controlled, serious and carefully put together, and their relationship becomes more complicated when Izzy announces she will be having a baby, news that hits Becca like a blow to the gut.

Blanchard was fascinated by the clashing siblings. "Izzy is a hip, spirited woman who has always been a fun-loving partier,” she explains. "She can't keep a job, she still lives with mom and yet she's had this wonderful thing happen to her. Becca, on the other hand, has done all the right things in life, made all the best decisions, worked very hard, and yet the most horrible thing imaginable has happened to her. There's this sense of unfairness they are both aware of, and one of the big questions of the story is how are these two very different sisters going to cope with how things have turned out? I think it's really only love that gets them through.”

As moved by the material as Blanchard was, nothing could quite prepare her for her first day on the set with Kidman. "For the first 20 minutes with her, I couldn't even look at her!” she laughs. "I was just so completely nervous. I remember seeing her in Moulin Rouge and feeling like she inspired my passion, so I was just in awe of being next to her. But we were able to develop this kind of disconnect with each other, which is what we needed to play these two sisters who are very much at odds.”

Kidman enjoyed the naturally contentious rapport they found together. "We had to be diametrically opposed as sisters,” she says, "but I think because Tammy and I both have children, we were each very emotionally attuned to the piece and to one another.”

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