Kidman, Penn to Address United Nations

01/30/2004 AT 02:27 PM EST

Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn are even more international than you think. In March, the two will become the first-ever actors to film inside the General Assembly of United Nations headquarters in New York, after personally being approved by U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan, says the Hollywood Reporter.

Their film is "The Interpreter," a thriller for producer-director Sydney Pollack ("The Way We Were," "Tootsie," "Out of Africa"), and allowing filming to take place inside the high-security headquarters appears to have been a drama all its own.

The negotiations took months, says the Reporter, with confirmation not taking place until Thursday, when it was announced during the U.N.'s daily press briefing that the secretary-general had approved film producers' request.

U.N. spokeswoman Marie Okabe made the point that filming will take place only on weekends (when the diplomatic body is not in session), though she told the trade paper: "I cannot discuss details because the original approval is subject to satisfactory conclusion of agreements on practical arrangements."

"I'm very grateful to the secretary-general and to the U.N. for giving us the unique opportunity to make this film as authentically as possible," Pollack said in a statement. "It's not just a matter of architecture, it's a matter of history, of atmosphere. The physical setting and the sense of history and event that come from standing almost any place in the U.N.'s corridors and great rooms is impossible to duplicate."

The U.N. reportedly denied Alfred Hitchcock's request to shoot his 1959 film "North by Northwest," starring Cary Grant, inside the U.N., and Kidman's 1997 movie with George Clooney, "The Peacemaker," about a bomb scare at the U.N., shooting was only permitted on the street outside HQ.

"The Interpreter" deals with South African U.N. interpreter Silvia Broome (Kidman), who overhears an after-hours conversation in the General Assembly Hall about an assassination that could potentially topple the government. Penn plays a Secret Service agent brought on to protect her.

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