Kidman, Nicole: Getting Closer to Hollywood’s Hottest and Coolest ActressPart Two

The interview with Nicole Kidman took place a few days before the Palm Springs International Film Festival, where she was honored with a career achievement award, and a week before the Golden Globes.

Emanuel Levy: Your new comedy “Bewitched” is coming up. It should be fun and commercial. How do you feel about it

Nicole Kidman: I had a great time doing comedy with Will Farrell. I am so glad I made that film, you know, after things like “Birth.” And I also have done “The Interpreter” this year, because I wanted to work with Sidney Pollack who’s a great American director. So I did do much bigger films than Im used to, and had a good time doing it. But now I go straight back to Wong Kar-wai , and Im going to Australia to do this tiny film (“Eucalyptus)” with Russell Crowe and this art house director, Jocelyn Morehouse. So I bow in the bigger things, then go running back to where I feel the safest, the art films..

Emanuel: Going back to directors, if I may, is there any director you would like to work with and have not yet

Nicole: Id like to work with Scorsese, because I don’t think he has never done a big film about a woman, and Id love to do that with him.

Emanuel: Any chance for such collaboration

Nicole: I don’t know. The strange thing is when I said I wanted to work with Lars von Trier, he wrote me something. So you never know, maybe they read it. Id love to work with Scorsese. Id love to work with Spike Jonze, Alexander Payne, and Id like to do another film with Alejandro Amenabar. The Swedish director who did “Lila Forever,” Id love to work with him.

Emanuel: You are often described as elegant, that’s the adjective that first comes to mind, elegant, hauteur, the thinking man’s sex symbol. How do you feel about these adjectives

Nicole: Im fine (Laughs.) But I think of myself as far more It’s interesting, because I’m very shy so through my work I get a way to express myself. When I go to awards sort of thing, I tend to be even much quieter. I stand back and I find that I put on my dress and I stand there and I kind of keep a shield around me, because that’s the only way I can get through it. People used to say, “Oh she’s so cold.” And now they realize, I think, that it’s actually misinterpreted. It’s actually shyness. I am really, really shy. As a child, I would hide under my mother’s skirt, and they couldn’t get me to come out.

Emanuel: So how do you deal with nudity scenes, in films by Kubrick, Robert Benton, and others How do you feel about nudity and stripping on camera

Nicole: I think it comes back to my European sensibility. If it’s in relation to and very very true to the story and the character, it doesn’t make me squirm. Because I don’t think you can censor performances on any level. I mean, all of that is still part of the person you play. And if you say, “Im not going to do this, I m going to do this,” it’s not true to the character or true to the film as a piece of art. Nudity can be artistic too.

Emanuel: How important was it for you to win the Oscar for “The Hours,” and what are the effects, in the short run and in the long run, of winning

Nicole: It was an enormous shock for me. And now, I sit back and I say, “What a wonderful, wonderful thing it is, because you get to say to your mother, who Ive spent my whole life trying to please, “Look mom, I have this! Did I do well In a way trying, youre still trying to seek the approval of your parents. This is particularly so with me and my mother.

Emanuel: Are you still trying to please you mom Is there anyone else to please

Nicole: Yes, I still am, and I really don’t think Ive fixed it yet.

Emanuel: Where do you keep your Oscar statuette, Im curious to know

Nicole: My mother has it; Ive given it to her.

Emanuel: People talk a lot about actresses’ problems when they reach the age of 40. I know you have many years to go (Nicole laughs, as she is 37). How do you feel about age and women in Hollywood Is it changing for the better Is there progress now for mature actresses

Nicole: Im not sure. Id like to think so. I look at the performances this year. You look at Imelda Stautnon (the protagonist of “Vera Drake”), and you look at these other women being given wonderful roles. Still I think we are not as intriguing to people for some reason as men are. But I certainly think that it’s changing, and that has very much to do with the way in which some of those films are doing well. At the same time, it’ very very difficult for a woman today in her 40s, far more difficult than for a woman in her 30s. And that’s so unfortunate, because I think that women are at their most extraordinary phase in their 40s and 50s.

Emanuel: When you look at the commercial appeal of your movies, does it bother you that “Dogville” or “Birth,” or any other film did not reach it largest potential audience

Nicole: Well, that was what was so wonderful about the Golden Globe nomination for “Birth,” because now New Line is going to re-release the film. Nominations and awards give the chance to a small art film like “Birth” to grow and to be seen by many more people. And that’s a great benefit of awards and nominations and festivals and all of those things. Because smaller films really don’t have a chance, unless they are supported critically. And so the receive those sort of things; the way in which they impact is enormous. I am so grateful for that. It makes a huge difference

Emanuel: We all know that comedies are more popular in terms of their reach. Even a film that some felt was not what it should have been like “The Stepford Wives.” Do you feel pressured to choose projects that you know will be popular at the box-office, like broad comedies

Nicole: No, no, I won’t do it. I mean the things I get offered, I could easily do those films, because I get offered them now, and I don’t choose them. That’s not interesting to me. I pass on a lot of movies these days, particularly formulaic films.

Emanuel: Now a question that Im often asked as a film professor and film critic. Which are the two or three of your favorite or influential movies

Nicole: Wow!

Emanuel: Which movies would you find yourself wanting to see again and again, including yours

Nicole: No, I don’t have any of mine. I think in terms of films with great performances. I look at something like “King of Comedy,” I look at all of Scorsese’s movies that I think are extraordinary for men. I look a t all of Kieslowski’s films. In his trilogy, ” Red, White and Blue,” he gave us such an array of great women. And then I suppose if I had to choose a director, Id choose Bergman. And Feline. I look at Feline still, and I go, “Wow! I look at “81/2,” which Ive watched maybe 20 times. You judge their work, and that’s when I think filmmaking was at its most extraordinary. I can’t wait for the new Fellini to be discovered.

Emanuel: What about Pedro Almodovar

Nicole: I would love to work with Pedro, but, you know, you have to speak Spanish (Laughs). Im willing to learn for him!

Emanuel: You have two children. How old are your kids

Nicole: 10 and 12.

Emanuel: Do you give them a “proper” movie education What kinds of movies you like them to watch

Nicole: Their favorite film is “Some Like It Hot.”

Emanuel: Really. Do they get Billy Wilder at age 10

Nicole: They get it! My son loves it. He is love with Marilyn.

Emanuel: I predict a very bright future for him. Do you have any family time when you sit and watch movies together

Nicole: I take them to the movies a lot. The last movie we saw together was “The Incredibles,” which they loved. That’s what we go through. We see movies on the big screen. When they were young, they were more interested in popcorn movies, but now theyre more interested in art films.

Emanuel: You have been acting for two decades. You began on television

Nicole: I actually began on film, and then I did a little bit of television. I never did a lot of television. I was lucky, I went straight into film.

Emanuel: At that time, could you ever predict that you would land in Hollywood as one of the top actresses

Nicole: Never, ever ever. I mean, as a little child your dream of having a few opportunities, especially the little girl form Australia, when you are not even in the same country as Hollywood. So to actually be here, doing this interview with you, Im still stunned at it. I think that’s important, though, that you maintain that sense of perspective. It somehow keeps you more innocent.

Emanuel: You often talk about the process of work rather than the end result. Do you distinguish between the two Is the process of filmmaking more rewarding to you than the final result when you look at the movie on screen

Nicole: Yea, I love being on film sets, the collaboration. And I love meeting people and the sharing of ideas with them. That’s the thing I enjoy the most. But then I look at something like “Moulin Rouge” that I got to make with Baz, we are joined forever because of that film. And I loved that film. Im so proud of that, just as Im so proud of “The Hours.” It’s not like Im not proud of them; it’s just that the collaboration is the thing that gives me the most joy.

Emanuel: I know you need to go, Nicole. I thank you very much and Ill see you at the Golden Globes.

Nicole: Yea. It will be fun. Goodbye.