‘I don’t choose roles that are going to please’
The Oscar winner says she has a stoic yet sensitive approach to life – which is probably why she’s tackling the thorny issue of domestic abuse not just on screen in Big Little Lies but also on the ground, as a UN Women’s Goodwill Ambassador.
Nicole Kidman has a laugh that makes you laugh too. She’s charming and warm, and watching her and Keith Urban on the red carpet is a delight as they tease each other and he gazes at his wife as she plays to the cameras. The lithe Australian
Oscar winner is a mother of four: she has two adoptive children, Isabella and Connor, with former hubby Tom Cruise, and two, Sunday Rose (8) and Faith Margaret (6), with her country singer husband.
In the industry, she’s known as a fearless actress who tackles tough subjects, and she does just that in miniseries Big Little Lies, which deals unflinchingly with domestic violence. Nicole plays Celeste Wright, a wealthy stay-at-home mom who has two young kids and whose picture-perfect life masks her volatile marriage and personal losses. There’s a complex psychology to the role which also requires nudity, and her performance is so authentic, it’s almost uncomfortable to watch. She secured the rights to Big Little Lies from Liane Moriarty, the author of the book on which the series is based, and teamed up with Reese Witherspoon to produce the womencentred show that also stars Laura Dern, Zoë Kravitz and Alexander Skarsgård.
I met Nicole at a swish Beverly Hills hotel to discuss why this project was important to her and how she’s crafted her life to meet her evolving needs.
ON BIG LITTLE LIES
I have a kindergartener and a second-grader, so I’m right in the thick of it, which is probably why I was drawn to the material [laughs]. But I was drawn to it primarily because it was an Australian author. I read the book overnight – really, really fast – and I thought if this could be made, it would be a great opportunity for five women. I’d promised [Liane] that Reese and I would get it made if she let us option the book. She said, ‘I’ll give you the rights as long as you play Celeste.’ So she cast it. That was two and a half years ago. It was like a whirlwind – that was probably the fastest I’ve ever seen something like this happen.
The role was tough. I’d go home with bruises all over my body. My neck and parts of my body were really damaged because I’d thrown myself into the physical scenes to such a degree. It wasn’t Alex’s fault; it was the way in which the director, Jean-Marc Vallée, shoots. You couldn’t use stunt people; it had to be real. I’d go home and sit in the bath and cry.
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