| Lauren Bacall and Nicole Kidman: No love lost
Venice, Sept. 9: An icy front descended on the Venice Lido yesterday when Lauren Bacall delivered a withering put-down of her co-star Nicole Kidman.
Bacall, one of Hollywood's most enduring stars, took a dig at Kidman after an interviewer described the Australian actor as a 'screen legend'. Bacall snapped back: 'She is a beginner'.
The two actors were in Venice to promote their new film, Birth, in which Bacall, 80, plays Kidman's mother. However, the acerbic remarks, made during an interview with GMTV, cast a pall over the premiere on Tuesday night.
In the interview, the reporter Jenni Falconer talked of Bacall's glittering career that has spanned some six decades. 'And now you've worked alongside another screen legend, Nicole Kidman...' Falconer said. But Bacall cut her off mid-sentence.
'She's not a legend,' she replied. 'She's a beginner. What is this 'legend' She can't be a legend at whatever age she is. She can't be a legend, you have to be older.'
The chill in relations was evident at a press conference yesterday afternoon.
Although Bacall was given a standing ovation when she entered the room, she was then all but ignored by the journalists as they peppered Kidman with questions.
The 37-year-old, who won the best actress Oscar for The Hours last year, did her best to play down any suggestion that her ego had been bruised.
'I certainly don't feel like a big star in Hollywood,' she insisted.
She pleaded with journalists after the umpteenth question came her way.
'Please ask somebody else,' she implored.
However, Bacall was in a less charitable mood. In the film, Kidman plays a woman who believes that her dead husband has been reincarnated in the body of a 10-year-old boy.
The stars, together with the film's British director, Jonathan Glazer, were asked who they would like to come back as if they could be reincarnated. While the others tried to answer the question, Bacall was dismissive. 'It's not a fascinating question. No offence,' she said.
Nevertheless, the widow of Humphrey Bogart, whose film credits include The Big Sleep and Key Largo, insisted that she and Kidman were great friends.
The two women have acted together once before, with Bacall playing a supporting role in Dogville last year.
'I love working with a young actress,' she said. 'Nicole and I worked together on Dogville and we were friends when we started this.'
Bacall's acting career began in 1944 with a role in To Have And Have Not. Since then she has appeared in dozens of films but has never won an Oscar.
The atmosphere at the press conference was not helped by the film's poor critical reception ' including a chorus of boos at a preview screening. The film, one of 21 in competition at Venice, has also attracted some controversy in America, in particular over a scene in which Kidman and the boy bathe together.