For more than twenty years, Kubrick had been thinking about Arthur Schnitzler’s novella “Rhapsody: A Dream Novel” (1926). The book, which is set in early twentieth-century Vienna, deals with the psychological transformations an sexual fantasies of a happily married couple. Kubrick wanted to set his film adaptation, “Eyes Wide Shut” (1999), in present-day New York and reworked the script many times, attempting to capture what the mind could see but the eye could not.
In 1998 he offered the lead parts to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who were not only two of the industry’s most successful actors but a married couple at the time as well. Their personas incorporate roles played in other movies as well as their “real” lives as celebrities; the “drift” of their on-screen and off-screen identities mingling with Kubrick’s characters.