Last year, every Friday night for five months, the 200-strong cast and crew of mini-series Nine Perfect Strangers were gifted surprise treats after a gruelling week of shooting. Food trucks carrying icecream, pizzas and burgers would weave through the picturesque Byron Bay hinterland and park on the lush grounds of Soma retreat (or Tranquillum House, as it’s called in the series), ready to reward exhausted workers. It was a tradition dreamt up by Nicole Kidman, who produces and stars as mysterious healer Masha in the highly anticipated TV drama. “All the key cast would pitch in to pay, but Nicole took the role of gift-giver to a whole other level,” recalls producer Jodi Matterson, whose company, Made Up Stories, worked with Kidman’s Blossom Films to bring the project to life. “Each week, she’d up the ante by giving piccolos of bubbly, boxes of cupcakes, steamed dumplings from food vans. Then on our last day, Nic gave everyone a special goodbye gift with a personal note. I’ve never worked with anyone who’s gone to such extremes to make people feel appreciated, acknowledged and valued. She’s a class act.”
Nicole Kidman’s generosity of spirit is well-known in the local film industry. When US financiers refused to back “an unknown” to play the role of tormented mum Heather in Nine Perfect Strangers, she fiercely championed Asher Keddie (who got the part). She’s pushed hard for Australian female filmmakers and writers to see their work come to fruition and attract global acclaim. And at the start of the pandemic she moved the entire production of Nine Perfect Strangers from California to Byron, offering a financial lifeline when hundreds faced months of zero work.
When I mention these acts of kindness during marie claire’s cover shoot on a chilly winter’s day in Sydney, Kidman is characteristically humble. “I’m just so grateful to be in a position to give people work and promote so much hidden talent in Australia,” she says, forking a multi-layered sponge cake during her lunch break. “Part of my mission is to give chances to creatives, women especially, who haven’t really had the opportunity; it’s my greatest thrill.”
Today, Kidman is here to promote her latest TV offering - the aforementioned Nine Perfect Strangers, another Liane Moriarty book adaptation poised to set the world ablaze like Big Little Lies did five years ago. For the series, which starts on August 20 on Amazon Prime Video, Kidman is joined by an all-star cast including Melissa McCarthy, Samara Weaving, Bobby Cannavale and Michael Shannon. “Each character has their own fully realised storyline which takes these incredible twists and turns; it’s so exciting to watch them.”
Kidman is also in the studio to helm our 25th birthday special issue (hence the cake). This marks her 10th marie claire cover, making Kidman the most prolific cover star in our quarter-century publishing history. For a skip down memory lane, I’ve laid out all nine issues along a wooden table. “Wow – it’s a This Is Your Life moment,” she says with a laugh. “Oh, I don’t like that one,” she says, pointing to 2007’s “over-done” delivery. “I prefer the more natural ones, like that” – she motions towards last year’s cover featuring her famed BMX Bandit curls.
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