An excerpt from The Guardian - by Dan Glaister - 9 March 1999
On Saturday afternoon, just 12 hours before he died, Stanley Kubrick was his usual, expansive self. Sitting in his famously private home in Hertfordshire, surrounded by all the trappings of the nerd, Kubrick was engaged in a surprisingly mundane activity: the workaholic director was glued to the television, watching the Ireland-England rugby match.
Proving that he could engage in more than one activity at a time, Kubrick was also on the telephone to an old friend and colleague. While the two were supposed to be discussing the poster design for his latest film Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick was providing a running commentary on the match, obsessing on the England scrum-half Kieran Bracken.
"I kept saying, 'Stanley, will you go away? I'm trying to watch the rugby too.' "Julian Senior, the grandly titled senior vice-president of European advertising and publicity at Warner Bros, the studio behind Eyes Wide Shut and every other Kubrick film for the last 19 years, was trying to make the most of his weekend.
Kubrick, however, was having none of it. "Stanley did not understand what weekends were," says Senior. "His work was his life. He was excited about the release of the film. He wanted to talk about the publicity schedule. It was the same voice we'd known for the last 20 years - young, vibrant. He'd had flu a couple of weeks ago but apart from that there was no hint of illness. He said: 'Let's think about what we're going to do. Get me a list of the top four or five magazines and the best writers. We'll do a few interviews.'"
Kubrick had finished an 80-second trailer for the film, to be shown tomorrow before an audience of 3,000 polyester suits at Sho West, the forum for American exhibitors. But it is not just the polyester suits who are excited at the prospect. With speculation about the film at fever pitch before the director's death, the rumour mill has gone into overdrive since he died in his sleep at 4 o'clock on Sunday morning.
With a 15-month shoot, and over two-and-a-half years since the project got underway, Eyes Wide Shut had become one of the longest ever film productions. The question "Will he ever finish it?" had moved from humour to anxiety. On his death, the fans were sent into a state of panic, clogging up Internet chat lines with speculation about what the studio might do to the master's film. With Kubrick reportedly having a clause written into his contract that a film could only be released when he said so, and only in the final version he submitted, there were fears that Eyes Wide Shut would never be shown on a public screen.
..... But for once the paranoia surrounding Kubrick was misplaced. "The film that will be released is Stanley's film;' says Senior. "The film is over, the trailer is done, he was working on the poster artwork. We'd even talked about which stills to use for the publicity." Then Senior, with his smooth, comforting Bob Monkhouse voice, chooses a strange turn of phrase. "Stanley finished with his life less than a week after he finished with his movie. If you'd stood back and written it, people would have laughed."
The polyester suits behind the American movie industry will not be the first to see the finished film. That privilege came on Tuesday last week, to an audience of just four. In the screening room at Warner's New York headquarters on Fifth Avenue were the company's two co-chairmen, Terry Semel and Robert Daley, and the film's two co-stars, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. None of them, it is safe to say, were wearing polyester suits.
The screening was an emotional affair. It was held in New York to suit the stars. Cruise was in New York with his wife before flying to Australia to begin work on the sequel to Mission: Impossible. Kidman was nursing a sore throat, the product of her Broadway run in David Hare's The Blue Room, which transferred from London earlier this year. "Nicole and Tom were both weeping," says a source at the company. "Nicole kept saying, 'He was like a father figure to me.'"