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Nicole Kidman Netflix film almost had a different ending

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Spoiler alert! We discuss important details about the ending of the romantic comedy “A Family Affair” (now streaming on Netflix).

Somewhere between melons and avocados, Nicole Kidman found love in a grocery store.

That’s the gist of her new romantic comedy, “A Family Affair,” in which she plays widowed memoirist Brooke who falls in love with unexpectedly soulful movie star Chris Cole (Zac Efron), who is 20 years her junior. The problem is that Brooke’s daughter Zara (Joey King) has been working as Chris’s beleaguered assistant and is rebelling against her mother dating him. Eventually, Brooke gives in and dumps the hunky A-lister over Christmas.

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Feeling guilty and finally ready to accept her mother’s happiness, Zara stages a surprise meeting for Brooke and Chris at a supermarket, where they vow to give their relationship another chance. As they kiss, a gentle rain falls on the vegetables, surrounding the couple in mist – a clever, practical illusion orchestrated by Zara, an aspiring Hollywood producer.

“We prepared a small rainstorm over the products,” explains screenwriter Carrie Solomon. At the film’s premiere in Los Angeles, “we actually got applause for that. It was a kind of joke about the magic of the film, which ended up being funny and beautiful at the same time. That’s exactly the balance we wanted to achieve with the whole film.”

The Netflix film “A Family Affair” originally had an alternative ending

“A Family Affair” originally had a different finale. Early in the film, Chris takes Brooke on their first date to a Hollywood studio lot, where they wear top hats and pose with retro feather fans (which director Richard Lagravenese describes as a nod to Kidman’s 2001 film “Moulin Rouge!”). For a while, the film ended with them meeting again on the same soundstage.

“But after we shot and saw the film, we realized that the ending didn’t satisfy us emotionally,” says Lagravenese. “It was both too clichéd and not clichéd enough. It also didn’t involve Zara enough and didn’t give us the right conclusion to her journey.”

Solomon always knew she wanted the film to end in an unlikely place. “It was funny, when we were thinking together about what Chris Cole found exciting, it was the mundane,” she says. Because he’s so famous and can’t often venture out into public, “there was something about a grocery store that made it oddly desirable for the two of them to find normalcy at the same time and in the same place.”

Viewers quickly realize that this is no ordinary supermarket: Zara sits behind the cash register and operates the light and rain machine, and she fills the store with a crowd of paid extras who don’t immediately surround Chris when he walks in. “It’s basically a movie set,” says Solomon. “It’s just a wink (to the audience) that nothing about it is ordinary.” At the same time, “we tried to make it as real-world as possible. It’s just two people who fall in love at the end of the day.”

Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron took shopping breaks between recordings

“A Family Affair” reunites Kidman, 57, and Efron, 36, after their passionate 2012 thriller “The Paperboy.” On the first day of shooting that film, “they just fell into each other’s arms and became friends,” Lagravenese recalls. “There was this familiarity and ease and mutual respect that just flowed into (their characters).”

They especially enjoyed filming in the grocery store. The ending was shot at Trancas Country Market in Malibu, California, where the cast and crew were given one bill to buy whatever they wanted.

“It’s like having your own grocery-sized pantry,” Solomon says, laughing. “I remember at the end of the day Nicole said, ‘I could really use a kale chip.’ I said, ‘Aisle 3!’ We all just walked around between takes and bought things. It was a really silly thing – talk about wish fulfillment.”

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