Smiling Til It Hurts…


All-day smiles
By Craig Kopp
The Snitch Newsweekly
Louisville, KY

Photo: Kevin Winter

“Yes, it did,” said Glenn Close with a laugh, as she talked in New York City about her role as the head Stepford wife, Claire Wellington. “We had nice masks to put on our face to kind of relax.”

And they needed it, as Close, Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler and country singer-turned-actress Faith Hill plunged into the robotically happy world of Stepford.

“It’s funny because I smile all the time,” said Hill. “I’ve read for a couple of things and people have told me, “You’ve got to stop smiling so much. It’s a nervous sort of thing for me. But, for this part, it was perfect.”

That part is the role of a woman who really doesn’t think a thought for herself because her husband — all of the husbands in Stepford — have turned their wives into robots of sorts.

“You have to release everything, let go of everything. You have to be empty,” to play a robot, according to Hill. “My character, Sara, was wired a little different. She’s hilarious. But you have to empty your head. It was like being on holiday.”

But there’s social satire going on in “The Stepford Wives.” The women who have their minds put under the control of their husbands were all powerful career women who had eclipsed their husbands’ careers.

Nicole Kidman plays the newest resident of Stepford, a former TV executive who thought nothing of ruining lives to get ratings. Hmmm. Sounds like any run-of-the-mill ruthless “male” executive.

“I really hope that they (real women executives) don’t act like men,” said Kidman. “What I try to bring to the workplace is to say, ‘I’m a woman in the workforce, what’s different about that?’ And you can be a nurturer. You can be the one who takes care of people. I mean, my nickname on the set, unfortunately or fortunately, is ‘mother’. That’s what they call me. But I think that’s a lovely thing to bring to the workplace. You don’t have to come in and be aggressive. You can state what you want to state and do it with a sensitivity and gentleness.”

And none of the women who play the perfect Stepford wives thinks the whole idea of the perfect wife — or the perfect person — is realistic or healthy.

“Wherever you’re at in life, we’re all just experiencing the same thing,” Kidman explained. “There are just different ways to experience them. But, everything that’s going on in our heads is usually the same stuff.”

And pointing to the current spate of “makeover” shows on television, Bette Midler had a dire prediction.

“The next step after you achieve the proper way to look is, what about the way you think? And that’s the next step. Is that what we really want to do, wipe all of the thought out of the population?”

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