Shirley MacLaine Photograph by Ethan Hill
EW Staff
April 21, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT


Current Status
In Season
100 minutes
Wide Release Date
Will Ferrell, Nicole Kidman, Michael Caine, Steve Carell, Kristin Chenoweth, David Alan Grier, Shirley MacLaine, Joan Plowright, Jason Schwartzman, Amy Sedaris, Fred Willard
Nora Ephron
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Delia Ephron, Nora Ephron, Adam McKay

We gave it a C

As a young girl in the ’70s, Nicole Kidman fell under the spell of Bewitched. Every weekday, she’d plunk herself down to watch the ’60s sitcom in reruns, hear that tinkling theme song, and dream witchy dreams of conjuring magic with a twitch of her pert little nose. ”I was desperate to be able to turn the teacher into a donkey,” she says. ”I wanted to be Samantha Stephens.”

It took a few decades, but even in Hollywood things don’t always go alakazam-quick. A big-screen Bewitched had been languishing in development for more than a decade before Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle) cracked it with a truly twisty concept: a comic actor (Will Ferrell) gets cast as Darrin Stephens in a remake of Bewitched opposite a Samantha (Kidman) who, unbeknownst to everyone, is a real witch. ”The studio had already screwed up six or seven times trying to keep it in the world of Bewitched,” Ephron says. ”We didn’t want to do that. We wanted it to be contemporary.”

Jim Carrey had been mentioned to star opposite Kidman, but when he chose to do Fun With Dick and Jane instead (a source says he wanted a more straightforward Bewitched), Ferrell’s name shot to the top of the list. Ephron brought Ferrell to meet Kidman — a huge Old School fan, as it turns out — on the set of The Stepford Wives, and somehow the combo of the ethereal Oscar winner and Frank the Tank seemed so wrong it had to be right. ”It is an odd pairing,” admits Ferrell, who brought in Anchorman writer-director Adam McKay to Ferrell-ize the script. ”Nicole described it as Hepburn and Tracy. That’s the classy version. The not-classy version is, I don’t know, Britney Spears and Daniel Day-Lewis? With me being Britney in drag?”

Offbeat casting is all well and good (the film features Steve Carell, Amy Sedaris, and Shirley MacLaine as Endora), but if the magic is truly to work, Kidman knows it’s all in the nose. ”I read somewhere that I’d done four weeks of intense yoga training so I could wrinkle my nose,” she says, laughing. ”I’m like, How do you do yoga on your face? But I did practice a lot in the mirror. I thought, if I can learn accents and instruments and all that, I’d better take this nose thing seriously.”

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