Moulin Rouge! is a glittery spectacular musical and after 20 years, it still shines in the hearts of fans everywhere. The musical, starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor, had everything from modern music, two star-crossed lovers and an epic stage show of grand proportions. 

Written and directed by Baz Luhrmann, who also made a movie adaptation of The Great GatsbyMoulin Rouge! premiered back in 2001 to mixed reviews. Yet, it is considered a masterpiece to fans everywhere. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the film, so to celebrate, fans can enjoy some of the behind-the-scenes facts about its production.

20 Nicole Kidman Fractured Two Ribs And Injured Her Knee During Filming

According to CinemaBlend, while rehearsing a dance routine with Ewan McGregor, Nicole Kidman injured herself, causing filming to halt for two weeks.

Some scenes where Satine is shown from the chest up were shot while Kidman was in a wheelchair. Kidman also suffered additional injuries while fitting into corsets and tumbling down the stairs.

19 “Come What May” Was Originally Written For Romeo + Juliet

The only original song in Moulin Rouge! isn’t original at all. “Come What May,” the song that Christian wrote for the stage show within the musical, was technically written for Luhrmann’s previous movie, Romeo + Juliet.

The song didn’t make the cut and was rewritten for the musical, according to Mental Floss


18 Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal Were Both Up For The Role Of Christian

In Moulin Rouge!, Christian is a penniless writer who goes to Paris and falls in love with Satine. But he’s not the only one vying for Satine’s love. In real life, two other actors were vying for the role of Christian.

According to CinemaBlend, both Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal tested for the character, but it became clear to Luhrmann that the age difference was too much.

17 Nicole Kidman Performed The Iconic Scene Without A Stunt Double

How does one introduce Nicole Kidman in a spectacular movie? By lowering her in a swing all dressed in a sparkling corset and singing Madonna’s “Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend.”

The musical number saw Kidman doing extensive and intricate dance moves. Yet, in the same CinemaBlend article, it was mentioned that it turned out that Kidman didn’t use a stunt double and instead trained for two weeks for these particular scenes.

16 John Leguizamo Had Special Prosthetics To Play Toulouse-Lautrec

John Leguizamo is not considered that short, standing at about 5-foot-6. But as Toulouse-Lautrec, he had to appear smaller because the real-life character was 4 foot 11.

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So, Leguizamo had to wear prosthetics, which, according to the actor, weighed about 45 pounds. In an interview with Roger Ebert seen on YouTube, Leguizamo claimed that he could only work for 45 minutes straight before he had to take a 15-minute break.

15 Satine’s Necklace Is The Most Expensive Piece Of Jewelry

Moulin Rouge! is a spectacular film with lavish sets and gorgeous costumes, but the most expensive item on set was the necklace worn by Nicole Kidman.

According to Vogue, the necklace was designed by Stefano Canturi and is made of 1,308 diamonds. It weighs 134 carats and is reportedly worth $1 million. 

14 Moulin Rouge! Was Almost Set At Studio 54 In The 1970s

Before landing in the setting of Paris, 1899, Baz Lurhmann stated in an interview with Rotten Tomatoes that he was debating about setting Moulin Rouge! in Studio 54 in the ’70s.

The story would have involved a young writer/singer coming to New York and getting mixed up with the club’s underworld.

13 20th Century Fox Did Not Tell Test Audiences That Moulin Rouge! Was A Musical

There are lots of interesting behind-the-scenes facts about Moulin Rouge! One of the more interesting ones is that 20th Century Fox kept test audiences in the dark about what type of film they were about to watch. 

It’s strange to think that musicals had a hard time finding an audience since they are a such a big genre today.

12 The Moulin Rouge! Cast Had Wild Parties During Production

According to the actors, while workshopping the film, the cast and crew of Moulin Rouge! celebrated with wild parties. In a Variety interview, Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman shared their thoughts on the weekend get-togethers:

Nicole Kidman: “We’d have great parties. Remember those Friday nights, those Saturday nights?” 

Ewan McGregor:  “Not all of them. Don’t remember all of them.” 

11 Ozzy Osbourne Was Originally Set To Play The Green Fairy

One of the most bizarre scenes in Moulin Rouge! saw the Bohemians drinking absinthe and celebrating the night. Christian hallucinates and sees a green fairy played by actress and singer Kylie Minogue. 

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In the same Mental Floss article mentioned above, Luhrmann originally had heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne in mind. Fans can still hear Ozzy Osbourne’s voice just as the fairy turns evil.

10 Baz Luhrmann’s Father Passed Away On The First Day Of Filming

The day production for Moulin Rouge! began, Luhrmann received the bad news that his father died. Leonard Luhrmann lost his battle with skin cancer, but before his death, Leonard had told his son to continue filming.

CinemaBlend mentions that Luhrmann kept his father’s words with him, even when the thought of giving up rattled his brain.

9 The Rolling Stones and Cat Stevens Declined Their Music

Moulin Rouge! was not like any other musical at the time. Luhrmann had gathered modern music from Paul McCartney, Madonna and Elton John and brought them back into the past.

In order to do this, it took him two years to clear the rights for the music. Only two bands refused to lend their music to the movie: The Rolling Stones and Yusuf Islam or Cat Stevens.

8 The Story Is Based On The Myth Of Orpheus

The plot of Moulin Rouge is simple: a writer falls in love with a dying woman and wants to save her from the evil Duke and the Moulin Rouge.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Luhrmann was inspired by the story of Orpheus. In the story, Orpheus loses his love and has to trench through the Underworld in order to bring her back from the dead. Hades agrees but gives on one condition: he can’t look back at her until they are both in the daylight. He does and he loses Eurydice forever. 

7 Courtney Love Almost Played Satine

Moulin Rouge! would have been a completely different film had Satine been played by anyone other than Nicole Kidman. It could have happened, though, according to Mental Floss.

Satine would have been played by Courtney Love, but it didn’t happen. Luhrmann did have to get the rights to use Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and Love agreed, but for $125,000. 

6 Marilyn Manson Was Taken Off The Soundtrack

Mental Floss also talks about how Luhrmann had initially hired Manson to sing the song “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” but had to change singers due to a longstanding feud between Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson.

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She evoked the performer approval clause in her contract, which forced production to switch directions. Six days before the movie’s premiere, Luhrmann found an unknown band to re-record the song.

5 Leonardo DiCaprio Wanted To Play Christian

Before Moulin Rouge!, Luhrmann transformed Shakespeare’s tragic love story, Romeo and Juliet, into a modern-day retelling. The movie stars a young Leonardo DiCaprio. The two still had a strong relationship after the film’s release and DiCaprio was keen to be in the director’s next film.

According to Variety, he auditioned for the role of Christian, even though, according to DiCaprio, “I have a pretty atrocious voice.” 

4 The End Of Production Was Pushed Back By Star Wars: Attack Of The Clones

Filming any movie can cause delay which is exactly what happened while filming Moulin Rouge! According to CinemaBlend, Baz Luhrmann had to stop production due to the Star Wars prequel.

Attack of the Clones was scheduled to start filming on the same sound stages that Moulin Rouge! currently occupied in Australia. Coincidentally, both films starred Ewan McGregor.

3 The Movie Won Two Academy Awards

The musical was nominated for eight Academy Awards at the 74th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role, Best Cinematography, Best Makeup, Best Editing and Best Song.

Yet it only walked away with only two awards: Best Art Direction-Set Direction and Best Costume Design.

2 Moulin Rouge! Became A Broadway Musical

It is no surprise that Moulin Rouge! went from an Academy Award-winning movie to a Tony-winning Broadway musical.

The show premiered in 2019 and was directed by Tony Award winner Alex Timbers and written by Tony Award-winner John Logan. It received 14 Tony nominations and went home with 10 awards.

1 Moulin Rouge! Is Part Of Luhrmann’s Red Curtain Trilogy

Baz Luhrmann created three movies that were all part of his Red Curtain Trilogy. The first was Luhrmann’s debut film, Strictly Ballroom.

It was followed by Romeo + Juliet then ending with Moulin Rouge! Despite being a trilogy, the films have nothing to do with each other.

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