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OPEN CALL: Pais' casting process was a bit more rarefied than most. His mom was starring in the play "Abigail's Party" with Leigh and the then-12-year-old Pais was doing his homework backstage when, on a lark, Leigh thought of him for Claude. "She was talking about the movie, which was yet to be titled, and she said maybe we could read it, just me and her backstage," recalls Pais. "So right after the play was done we just kind of sat in the green room and talked and read lines." Pais later auditioned at Leigh and Baumbach's apartment (the two are married), and a month later, he had the part. "When I found out, I was just coming home from school and my mom just told me, 'Congratulations.' At first I thought she was playing a really mean joke on me."
HIT ME BABY ONE MORE TIME: With no acting experience under his belt, Pais soon found out that none other than Kidman would be his mom. Though the intimate rehearsals and Kidman's kindness helped quell his nerves, the shoot in Hampton Bays, N.Y., wasn't all smooth sailing. One particularly rough scene has Claude being beat up by neighborhood kids and then receiving a slap in the face from Margot, instead of sympathy. "I had to be slapped over and over and over again. They couldn't really fake it," he says. "I was actually getting slapped by Nicole Kidman....By the time we were halfway through the scene, I was getting really upset."