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Nicole Kidman's Knee Kept Her Out Of The Panic Room

In the pantheon of home invasion films, David Fincher's "Panic Room" is as gripping as it was back in 2002. The movie saw Jodie Foster as a single mother forced to lock herself into the titular tight spot after her brand new home is broken into by a trio of thieves, one of whom helped build it.

The movie was met with a reasonably positive reception critically during its release (via Rotten Tomatoes). While considered reasonably low on the list of Fincher favorites, it is still better than most for its achievements. Not only does it dazzle with some clever camerawork mixed with subtle CGI, but the film also introduces the world to Kristen Stewart, who starred alongside Foster as her on-screen daughter, Sarah. While the mother-daughter dynamic is on point (there's almost a legit likeness between the two), Foster was a replacement mother for the one Fincher initially hoped for. As a classic bit of trivia that would make for a great quiz night, Nicole Kidman was originally down to star in "Panic Room" but had to reluctantly exit, and it turns out Fincher had a can-can to thank for it.

Post-Moulin Rouge injuries kept Kidman from visiting the Panic Room

Production for "Panic Room" had gotten as far as filming before things started to go south for the then-main lead in David Fincher's claustrophobic hair-raiser. Three weeks into filming, Nicole Kidman had to break the bad news that she could no longer continue work on "Panic Room," thanks to the after-effects of her demanding work on Baz Luhrmann's beloved romance, "Moulin Rouge" (via Entertainment Weekly). 

Her time being spun around under the sparkling Paris lights with Ewan McGregor had made an impact. While she ended up earning a Golden Globe for her troubles, the physical strain rolled over to what would have been her first collaboration with Fincher. Thanks to a knee injury, Kidman could not exert herself for the role that, while not as demanding as Luhrmann's musical, was still taking its toll on injuries that hadn't fully healed. As a result, damage control was implemented to get a new mom for Kristen Stewart's somewhat stranded character. While initially thought to be simple, the switch around proved to have been more impactful for Fincher when Jodie Foster stepped in to take the part.

Fincher had to make some not-so simple adjustments when Jodie Foster joined Panic Room

Speaking to Creative Loafing about the shift in stars, David Fincher explained that a simple home invasion movie was hit with some subtle but complex alterations that needed to be considered when Jodie Foster took the job after Nicole Kidman had exited. The up-to-date filming techniques had to be reviewed now that they had a new star on board. "Most of the scenes in this movie were totally pre-planned on the computer, and yet when we needed to reshoot a certain scene with Jodie, sometimes it just wouldn't look the same," Fincher explained. "I mean little things, like having to lower the wall phone in the kitchen so that it was on Jodie's level and not Nicole's."

While technical elements needed to be altered for the production's newest addition, the story and dynamic of Meg (Foster) also required to be reviewed, which Fincher was happy to adapt to. "The part was originally written to be much more helpless," Fincher revealed, which certainly isn't what we end up with on screen. "And while I happen to think Jodie Foster can play just about anything, helplessness might be a big stretch for the audience to buy from her." At the same time, it might have been a small nightmare for Fincher, though it ended up being a dream experience for Stewart that the now Oscar-nominated star carried with her for years. She even expressed gratitude when she sat with Kidman almost 20 years later.

A young Kristen Stewart saw Kidman as a friend during her time on Panic Room

In the lead-up to awards season and following her performance as Princess Diana in "Spencer," Kristen Stewart jumped on a call with Nicole Kidman for Variety's Actors on Actors (via Instagram). In a heartwarming chat, Stewart had nothing but good things to say about the co-star we never saw her share the screen with, recalling how much she saw Kidman as a friend in an industry that she'd become such a massive part of. "I was a little guy but it's an interesting time to meet somebody and have a vivid memory of it because the way that you treat kids, is so telling of you — of anyone," Stewart explained. At 12 years old, the star-in-the-making had bagged a winning part that left her with a lot of insight into the career she would become known for, and it was her friend she briefly worked with on "Panic Room" who she had to thank. "I just felt like I was buds with you and that says so much."

Kidman herself was also grateful for the experience and accepting of Jodie Foster's take on the character who, as she described it, "was just brilliant." Looking back, though, even having to leave the project, she was just as grateful as Stewart. "Here we are, decades later, and you're amazing — [David] Fincher was right, as he always is — and thus we're sitting here, and I get to be your bud."