Kidman, Nicole: Life (Improves?) at 50, Part One

Oscar winner Nicole (The Hours) Kidman was the reigning queen at this year’s Cannes Film Fest, in which she had no less than four films (all official selections).

Please Read Part Two

Kidman, Nicole: Life (Improves) at 50? Part Two

Kidman is set to portray Queen Atlanna, the mother of the title character, in the Warner’s comic strip Aquaman, directed by James Wan, and released in December 2018.

Taking Risks

Nicole Kidman: It really just comes from the love of filmmakers and auteurs primarily. I love auteurs, I love the directors that have a really, really strong vision. And they are hard to find. And then I like supporting first time filmmakers, or second filmmakers, because I just think if I am in a position now with some sort of power, to then be able to support and facilitate a career, that is a great thing to be able to do at this stage in my life. But I still try to conduct myself as though I have the abandonment of a 21 year old. Because when you start your career, you are like I am going to try this and I am going to give this a go and it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work and I am so fortunate and lucky to have this opportunity, so I try to stay in that place.

The work is going to be about the journey, and I realized that.  When I was younger, I would try to fit into, or conform into a formula, and that never worked for me. And that was a lot of times when I was being advised in a particular way or as an Australian I felt that I had to be more American or I had to fit into a mold.   As soon as I threw those things off, and freed myself artistically to follow filmmakers and storytellers in that way, it was very freeing. And that is what I constantly try to do.  It means at times being in a place of discomfort. It’s not always oh, it feels so great, it means that at times it’s disturbing and at times I am going to feel exposed and vulnerable and fragile and all of those emotions.  But I am willing to do it because I love the artistic journey. I am still passionate about it.

Working with Sofia Coppola?

NK: Sofia came and saw me in a play I was doing in London, “Photograph 51” and she said to me, we were at one point exploring another movie together which she ended up not making, and she said I have got another story, and Sofia is very quiet and demure, and she was like, I have got another story that I am sort of thinking about. And so we met for dinner after the play and she gave me the script. And I just said to her that I want to work with you and I want to be a part of what you do. I like her particular stamp that she puts on her films and her vision, it’s very much a Sofia Coppola vision. Which I think as the daughter of a very famous filmmaker, is very difficult to have established and she has done it.  To support her and to be in one of her projects was important to me actually. And she’s very unique Sofia, she has shown that you can, because she is not a carbon copy of her father, she has her own particular atmosphere that she creates with a film, she is very simple in her framing, her storytelling is, it almost hypnotizes you, this humor, this sort of twisted humor to it. And I am very proud of her for that, and proud to be associated with her. And her mother just directed a film, which is astounding. So they are just a very unique family and that is part of what I like to support.

Roles in The Beguiled and Big Little Lies

I’ve never thought of that, that’s amazing, yeah. No, I mean, I suppose because I see the stories so differently, for me, “Big Little Lies” in terms of the storyline, with my husband, I am very much, it’s so complicated. I think the storyline in “The Beguiled” and because of the way in which Sofia has framed it, it sort of starts like a fairytale almost in the way in which it goes awry and there is humor in it that is so unusual, I think the way in which “Big Little Lies” is portrayed, it’s meant to vibrate in terms of reality. You are meant to feel how absolutely real this is. And the response that I have had from people, say even in relation to the therapy scenes, they go it’s so uncomfortable watching it, because it feels so real and I feel like I am actually watching that these people, that I am in the therapy session with them, which is fantastic and that is a great response to have. So that is I suppose why I see the styles of the two as completely different. But yes, there’s probably a theme of what happens, women combining their powers to rid themselves of, (laughs) but we give it away, so we can’t say. But then you have got to understand between the two and I didn’t do those back to back, I did “The Killing of A Sacred Deer” in between, which if any of you have seen that, that’s a whole other story.

The Beguiled

That is how Sofia described it to me when she said, this is what the story is in a nutshell and yeah, I thought oh, I am interested because Sofia’s take on it versus the original, is very feminine. She sees it and it’s the female gaze. And so all of Sofia’s films are very, as Jane Campion says, Sofia, she has an ultra femme take, and that is what she puts and that is her mark. And I thought oh, that is interesting, because she is, she is ultra femme Sofia, all of her films are like that. And Jane was like, I can’t wait to see that film, because she knows Sofia well, but she said I can’t wait to see what Sofia does, because I am a huge fan of her filmmaking. And that really gave me, I understand that, and Jane is also a particular idiosyncratic female director and she has a very particular style and I don’t know if any of you have seen “Top of the Lake 2” but it’s Jane, just as “The Beguiled” is Sofia. And that is fantastic to be saying that about a filmmaker and there are so few female filmmakers that we say that’s their style, that is who they are. And they are not a hired hand, they are very specific in their vision. And I watched the original “Beguiled” and I sort of took a little bit from it, but not really because it exists in its own entity and it’s obviously a male perspective. It’s a good film, but this was Sofia’s take on it.

Working with Women

NK: Well I think I have gotten a lot from male directors and it’s not about that. It’s about giving women the opportunity so they can build their careers the same way as men. It’s not a pose, like to not work with a male director. I have given amazing performances with male directors, it’s not that. Something like “Big Little Lies” it’s just easy for us. We can share so in-between or after work, you go out and you talk about and you share your wisdom, or you ask questions or you learn or you lean on each other. But because you are similar, you have that club so to speak. But right now, a lot of support for the female directors is to just give them the opportunities to build their careers in the same way.

Depiction of Women in Cannes Fest Films

NK: I didn’t see all the films that were at the Cannes Film Festival. I saw my films. But unfortunately I didn’t get to see any others. I will see them eventually. I know a lot of the filmmakers that had films in the festival. For Sofia to win the award there, was a huge triumph in that sense. And her film, this film, is a very strong depiction of women uniting, it’s got its own aura and atmosphere that she has put in it and it’s obviously a genre picture, but she has broadened the genre with this film. So I think that is a strong statement by Jessica Chastain and by the jury in support of what Sofia created and we were really surprised. It’s why Sofia wasn’t there. And I was back in Nashville and I didn’t expect to win anything or be acknowledged. So, I was so disappointed, because I really wanted to be there, and when they called me, it was like seven in the morning in Nashville and they were like you have won a prize. And I was like, it’s three o’clock over there and your ceremony is in four hours, I can’t get back. So it was one of those things where you just go, oh I wish I could have been there to thank the world in a way, because it was such an acknowledgement of just the work.

Opportunities for Actresses

NK: “Big Little Lies” was the result of Reese Witherspoon and I going there isn’t the opportunities.  “Big Little Lies” came about because we were frustrated that we weren’t being offered complex, interesting roles.  And so we were able through Bruna Papandrea, who was Reese’s producing partner, we found this book and we went, let’s get this made.  And we created our own opportunities.  And then gave our girlfriends roles.  So that actually came out of not being offered things that we felt were good enough. Subsequently something like the Sofia film or Yorgos Lanthimos’ film, those came after “Big Little Lies.” So initially “Big Little Lies” was really important in turning a corner for me.

Long Way for Women to Go

NK: Statistically when you look at the way in which women are still in the industry, it’s tough, it’s not an easy road for directors, for writers, for any of them. So for someone like Sofia to be acknowledged in Cannes like that, that’s big.  Or for Patty Jenkins to have a massive success right now, those things are helpful, but they haven’t changed it, it’s in the midst of things turning.  For “Big Little Lies” to have been such a success is astounding because we thought, well this will hit a small demographic of women with children and who have kids at school, but it penetrated.  And I have traveled the world and the way in which this series has worked globally, I am astounded.  It’s like being in a massive hit film, the way television now penetrates the world, I am shocked.  Because I go to England, I go to France,  I go to Australia, everyone talks to me about “Big Little Lies.”


Big Little Lies Sequel

NK: We have got Liane coming up with ideas and we have got to convince David Kelley to write it, and there’s a lot of moving parts.  But it was interesting because a friend of mine said, you should do another one and I was like maybe it’s good to leave it, and she goes, those roles don’t come along very often, you don’t enter the zeitgeist like that with a show very often, it’s rare, very rare.  She said not to follow through, that would not be a good idea.  She goes why don’t you explore where the storylines go, because the characters are so strong?  They are not one-dimensional, they are very complex and so if Liane and David can match what they did, then we would be foolish not to try and pull it all back together.


Most Courageous Thing You’ve Done

NK: Artistically, for me doing a play, you are there, you are committed to eight performances a week, you walk out on that stage, and there is an audience there that you have to fulfill their expectations.  That is really frightening to me.  And when I did the play recently in London, I hadn’t been on stage in seventeen years and I went, have I lost my mind, what was I thinking?  Because when I signed on to do it, I was like yeah it’s a play, and then when the reality of having to sell out a West End theater, hoping that the critics were going to like it and it was a new play, it was a play about science and a woman, I was like this is, I have taken on way too much.  But to walk out on stage every night, particularly those first previews, it took a lot to get out there and I didn’t realize how much stage fright I was going to have.  But I did it.  And then by the end of the run, I was like, I did it.  So that was probably the most fulfilling as well.  As much as it was the most frightening, it was the most fulfilling.

Career Lessons?

NK: I don’t know if I would avoid anything in terms of just, my whole way of approaching things is always just jump in, try something and then don’t regret it, because yes, there are times when I have attempted things that maybe haven’t worked, but I have tried to do the best that I could do.  I have never gone in without the intention of doing the best that I can do.  Have things then failed because of other reasons?  But my intention behind it, if I didn’t succeed, it’s not because I didn’t try my hardest.  That is what I say to young actors, you can’t control the outcome, because you are not the director.  But what you can control is how you commit yourself to it and your ability of what you do when you go in.  Never go in half hearted, always go in committed and always stay true to the director.  This is just my particular theory, that when you sign on to the director, you are also signing on to their vision.  You have to be committed and loyal to that vision.  You can come up with ideas and help, but you can’t abandon his or her vision.  That’s where the allegiance is formed creatively, and I have always done that.  No matter what the film has been like, I have never turned around and not supported the director.