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The Screening Room

Kidman, Cruz and Loren top star-studded cast of musical 'Nine'

By Daniela Deane for CNN
  • Daniel Day-Lewis plays an Italian film director having a mid-life crisis
  • Sophia Loren is his mother; Marion Cotillard his wife
  • Movie based on Fellini's autobiographical film, "81/2"
  • Marshall "astonished" so many stars wanted to take part

London, England (CNN) -- Where can you find Daniel Day-Lewis, Sophia Loren, Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Judi Dench, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson and Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas all having a blast singing and dancing together?

In Rob Marshall's new Italy-drenched musical, "Nine," opening in theatres December 18, with what has to be the most star-studded cast ever to grace a musical.

The new singing-and-dancing extravaganza by the director of the Academy Award-winning "Chicago" is the story of Italian film director Guido Contini, played by Day-Lewis. Contini is in the throes of a mid-life crisis that has stifled his creative juices but ramped up his romantic entanglements in early 1960s Venice.

Sophia Loren plays Day-Lewis' mother; Marion Cotillard his wife and the other stars his various love interests. The story is based on an adaptation of Federico Fellini's autobiographical film, "8½."

Asked how he persuaded so many super-star leading ladies to play supporting parts in his new film, Marshall said he was "astonished" that they all wanted to take part.

We all knew how special it was
--Rob Marshall, director

"I think it's because a musical is special, as it rarely happens," the director told CNN. "And when it does, people who have a natural skill want to do it."

Video: All-star cast of 'Nine'
Video: 'Nine' debuts in London

"We all knew how special it was."

Marshall said that occasionally during filming, he had to "pinch" himself "because there's Sophia Loren, Judi Dench and Daniel Day-Lewis, the greatest actors in the world. I was overwhelmed each day working with them. That never really went away."

Asked how and why he came to cast Day-Lewis as the leading man in a musical, Marshall said of the actor: "He likes challenges, and he wants to transform himself into parts and become people."

Marshall said singing and dancing came naturally to Day-Lewis, much more known for dark, dramatic roles. "We had a short amount of time once we cast him, but he just went to work and kept working on the voice, the movement."

"He is just a director's dream," Marshall said about the award-winning actor, "because not only is he such a consummate artist and worker, but he's also wonderful to work with."