Wizard of Oz

November's Down Under epic, Australia, is the classic story of an aristocratic woman (Nicole Kidman) who falls for a rough-edged cowboy (Hugh Jackman), but making the film wasn't so predictable. Australian director Baz Luhrmann, 46, whose previous film (2001's Moulin Rouge!) also starred Kidman, had his entire crew of 300 trucked hundreds of miles into the desert, where he quickly learned that nature doesn't care about call times.

Outside: Why shoot in the outback?
LUHRMANN: If the film stars Kidman and Jackman, it also stars the far northwest of Australia. The story's simple but played in a vast landscape. The emotions are amplified in a way that you can't do anywhere else.

Was it tough to film there?
Punishing. There was an equine-flu outbreak. It rained for the first time in something like 100 years as we were about to shoot the desert scene. There was nothing that could have happened that didn't.

How did Kidman and Jackman hold up?
Nicole is at her best in the unusual and difficult. I think it's one of her great characteristics. And no one camped out in the bush with me except for Hugh. He set up down the road. We absolutely loved it.

You camped?
I said to the guys, "Just put the van down by the river and I'll stay one night." Then I never left. There was this old, salty crocodile that lived nearby. And lots of jokes that the director was going to be eaten.

Any weird or freaky wildlife encounters?
One of my team set his bag down, came back 15 minutes later, and there was this giant mound on it that looked like sticky rice. But it was moving! An ant had laid zillions of eggs. It looked like Jell-O.

That's disgusting.
That's the word I used. I was no bushman at that moment.

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