There was never any talk of bringing Kim's mother or mine or any of our siblings, most of who had children, to LA to participate in Kim's care. It was go-it-alone time again. As the due date drew near, there was some warmth and even some closeness. But, the overall experience left me wondering if this was how it was supposed to be.
After my daughter was born, like many new fathers, I felt an almost instinctual need to work harder to make us more secure. My film career was never robust, but 1996 proved to be a good one for me and for Kim as well. I shot "Ghosts of Mississippi" in Los Angeles and Kim shot "LA Confidential" there at around the same time. Next, I went to Alberta, Canada to shoot "The Edge," with Tony Hopkins. My daughter was just shy of a year old, but my wife complained about putting her on a plane to see me.
The flight to Calgary was just over two hours, but Kim came there with my daughter only once. I worked what was an unusually tough schedule and flew to LA nearly every other weekend. Kim complained about my being away, but I maintained that one of us had to work. Then, suddenly, "LA Confidential" was released in 1997 and the film was a critical success. Soon thereafter, Kim was nominated for an Oscar and, as if in a dream, she won in early 1998
Five years after her loss in civil court, Kim had a beautiful daughter, an Oscar and the opportunity to earn back nearly all of the money she had lost in court.
Kim had been restored to the place she longed to be and starred in two films between 1998 and 1999. I clearly sensed that, by that point, I had outlived my usefulness to her. I accompanied her to Africa in the fall of 1998, but I was really just the third nanny in the rotation. In 1999, I went to Montreal to work and she to Toronto. By the fall of 1999, my daughter was ready for preschool.
I commuted to Toronto nearly every weekend to see Ireland. No provisions were made for a tutor, or for any type of academic program, as Ireland turned four years old. My daughter would essentially visit her mother on the movie set and then spend the remainder of the day sitting in an expensive hotel suite, reading books or watching television with a nanny.
I did not graduate Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard, but I wanted my daughter's educational needs to be addressed with some real care and deliberation. We were now approaching the end of the road. I urged my wife to move to New York to put my daughter into school, as I did not want my child raised in Los Angeles.
By 2000, we lived in eastern Long Island. My wife complained, nearly every day, that the weather there was making my daughter sick. I countered that my daughter was sick on a regular basis because she was in school. Like all children, she was building the immune system that would protect her for the rest of her life. I took off nearly all of 2000, working for only six weeks that year, in order to drive my daughter to school each day.
Often, I would go to the school to pick up my daughter's missed assignments, only to see other kids with symptoms that had kept my daughter home. One teacher told me that her rule was that if the child does not have a fever, convince her to attend school. My wife would hear none of it. She threatened, on a daily basis, to head back to Los Angeles. I reminded her that Los Angeles, with its mythic air pollution and overcrowding, was no environmental Eden by any stretch.