Courtney Love Let Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ Appear in ‘Moulin Rouge!’ Under 1 Condition

Outside of her music, Courtney Love has a career as an actor. She once tried to get the lead role in Baz Luhrmann‘s musical Moulin Rouge! While she didn’t appear in the film, she allowed Luhrmann to use Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” under one condition.

Courtney Love in an orange dress
Courtney Love | Lindsay Brice/Getty Images

Why Baz Luhrmann decided to work with Nicole Kidman instead of Courtney Love

Love appeared in films such as Sid and Nancy, The People vs. Larry Flynt, and Man on the Moon. During an interview with Contributor, Love recalled losing the role of Satine in Moulin Rouge! “The one that got away, which I am still not completely over, is Moulin Rouge!,” she said. “Baz thought I was a great representation of tragedy, and I thought I could intertwine that with comedy, which would have been ideal for the role.”

Love explained why Nicole Kidman appeared in the film instead. “After the film, I think Baz was quoted as saying something like he was looking for fire and ice, and that while I was fire Nicole had both,” Love recalled. Love said Luhrmann wanted Kidman for the part because she was similar to 1930s movie star Marlene Dietrich. 

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What Courtney Love thought about Baz Luhrmann after letting him use Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in ‘Moulin Rouge!’

Love expressed mixed feelings about Luhrmann. “Not getting Moulin Rouge! broke my heart,” she said. “After that happened, I stopped reading scripts for a while. It took me a while to get over that. But God, Nicole was magnificent in that role. I really want to work with Baz sometime; he is such a genius.”

Elsewhere, she said she was upset with Luhrmann even after allowing him to use “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in Moulin Rouge! “I said yes once — to Baz Luhrmann to use eight seconds of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ in Moulin Rouge!,” Love told Rolling Stone in 2012. “But he wasn’t allowed to use it in the marketing. I didn’t get the part in the film. I was so pissed off I made up the term to ‘Baz’ somebody.”

RELATED: Boston’s Tom Scholz Commented on the Similarity Between Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ and ‘More Than a Feeling’

The way critics and audiences reacted to ‘Moulin Rouge!’

Moulin Rouge! became a huge hit. According to Box Office Mojo, the film had a budget of $50 million. It made over $57 million at the domestic box office and over $121 million elsewhere. Moulin Rouge! earned over $179 million across the globe.

Moulin Rouge! also received critical acclaim. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including the Oscars for best picture and best actress for Kidman. The movie ultimately won the Oscars for best costume design and best art direction. Moulin Rouge! continues to impact pop culture, as it was adapted into a Broadway musical that includes some more modern songs.

Moulin Rouge! is one of the most famous musicals from the 2000s — and it wouldn’t be the same without “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

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