Love Among the Ruins

A clandestine photo of Law and Kidman dancing at a private concert given by the White Stripes for the cast and crew in Romania was enough to convince two British tabloids they had that--and more. Kidman ultimately sued ''The Sun'' and the ''Daily Mail'' and won damages when the papers admitted the stories were fabricated. She recalls a closeness felt by their characters to one another, but that's it.

''In a strange way we were very, very interconnected through our work, through our decisions about our work, through the way we experienced our lives,'' Kidman says. ''If you put the impact of another human being on you and you put it into your art, it doesn't have to impact your real life.'' (One relationship in the film that did spill over into real life was between Zellweger and White Stripes frontman Jack White, who appears in the film as a traveling musician.) Actually, what Kidman drew upon to play Ada was her experience of falling in love with Cruise. ''With my first marriage, it was so fast. Basically within a week, I was going to be married,'' she explains. ''Then you say, 'Is it timing? Is it where you are in your life, or is it the person you have been waiting for your whole life?' Nobody has the answer, and we've all tried to find them for thousands of years and continue, I suppose, to reach to find them. And we'll never have the answer to that.''

Law was more methodical about transforming himself into the stoic and soulful Inman. To prepare, he read ''The Red Badge of Courage'' and a sheaf of material on the Civil War. But what he really needed was boot camp. ''The character was so internal that I didn't foresee the physical labor of the movie,'' Law says. That labor included being buried in the dirt with an Aqua-Lung, thrown down a hill while chained to four other men, doused with freezing water while lying on a bed of corncobs, and sent off to walk through snowdrifts. Standing beside a stream in Romania, covered in the layer of dirt he has worn for the past five months, Law says, ''I'm at a point where I am ready to film the end--because of the journey that I've been on, let alone the journey that Inman's been on.''

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