Heath Ledger Almost Starred in 'Moulin Rouge' with Nicole Kidman After 'Beautiful' Audition

Heath Ledger and Nicole Kidman had "beautiful" chemistry while auditioning together for Moulin Rouge

nicole kidman, heath ledger
Photo: 20th Century Fox/Kobal/Shutterstock; Bob Riha Jr/WireImage

Heath Ledger was almost cast opposite Nicole Kidman in one of her most iconic roles.

Director Baz Luhrmann recently talked about Ledger's audition for the beloved 2001 movie musical Moulin Rouge and looked back on the "beautiful" chemistry between the two Australian stars.

"A young Heath Ledger was up for the role and I thought maybe the character could be very young," Lurhmann said in an interview with news.com.au. "And it turned out they did really work together. And it was quite beautiful."

Unfortunately for Ledger, Luhrmann couldn't get over their age difference. Ledger was 21 at the time while Kidman was 33, so the role went to then-30-year-old Ewan McGregor instead.

The director remembered seeing both McGregor and Kidman wow on stage and knew they could work, so he brought them together at his home in Australia.

"The real moment was when they met in Sydney and we did the first day of rehearsals," he recalled. "They were walking around, going into the elephant, and they were hysterical and wonderfully matched. They were great. He was just the perfect partner for Nicole."

MOULIN ROUGE!, Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, 2001, TM and Copyright (c)20th Century Fox Film Corp. A
Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge! . Everett

Also up for McGregor's role was Jake Gyllenhaal, who previously recalled how the grueling audition process for the film led to the beginnings of his friendship with the late Ledger.

"It was Ewan, it was Heath, and me," said Gyllenhaal in a 2018 GQ cover story. "And we auditioned with many different actresses, it was a long process. But I never met Heath, I only heard about him."

The two would later go on to star together in 2005's Brokeback Mountain, for which both received Oscar nominations.

Gyllenhaal then revealed that Ledger turned down Luhrmann when he offered him another role because he was frustrated by the audition process for Moulin Rouge, saying "that was how much Heath loved me. That was how I met him."

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