Keeping up with Kidman

11th January 2019

As the evolution of an actress goes, Nicole Kidman is a biopic in her own right. While the start of 2019 sees her bookending two roles whose genres couldn’t be further apart, the iconic Australian actress opens up about what truly inspires her to maintain such energy and creativity. Danny Bowman tells us more…

There is a level of consistency that has always accompanied Nicole Kidman’s work. From breakthrough brilliance (Dead Calm and Days of Thunder) to shimmering showtime magnificence (Moulin Rouge), from science fiction horror comedy (The Stepford Wives) to dark mystery (Birth), there has been a measure of excellence in the actress’s work. Even for those movies that were roundly panned by critics (Eyes Wide Shut, Grace of Monaco), the 51-year-old’s investment in her craft has always demonstrated integrity.

It’s perhaps the reason why Kidman has moved across that much discussed age milestone with effortless grace. In an industry where so much is made of the transition of its female stars from eye candy icons to middle-aged wives and mothers, where Kidman is concerned the media have barely discussed it, although that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to…

“I think so much is said of the role of men and women in the industry, and the battle for equality, both in terms of gender and age of its stars, and it’s a debate that should be had,” she begins. “I have always been lucky to have good directors around me, good scripts, and I feel I’ve made good choices, but ultimately it all comes down to getting on with the work and seizing the opportunities when they come your way, and that’s something I’ve always embraced from the very first day.”

Kidman remains true to her word – how else might you explain her current two projects. In Boy Erased, out in February, she stars opposite Joel Edgerton – who was also screenplay writer and director on the movie – in telling the story of Jared Eamons. The son of a small-town pastor, Jared has had his homosexuality revealed, and is left with two choices – accept being abandoned by friends, family and his community, or resolve to attend a conversion therapy program where his alleged ‘confused morals’ can be realigned.

Set against a quaint, rural backdrop of fervent faith and wrapped in a veil of softly-lit love and support – at first – the movie is based on the memoir of Garrard Conley, who recounts his childhood in a fundamentalist Arkansas family.

“I think the fact we’re retelling true events makes the movie even more poignant,” says Kidman. “These are always the best types of movies because you know there is true heart in there. We know these situations occur all across the world, every day of the week; but to be able to crystallise it down to an actual person and place seems to add a layer of belief, authenticity and empathy, because this isn’t a fictional thing, it is real and it happened, just as it continues to happen.”

The movie also stars Russell Crowe stars, as the stubborn and unrelenting father, in what is a touching and sometimes painful reminder that regardless of how much we have centred ourselves, society still has a long way to go when it comes to acceptance of its alternative, peripheral or under-represented members.

While Boy Erased is expected to become an early-year forerunner for Oscars’ talk, Kidman would not want 2019 to be defined by one project… far from it. Hugely successful HBO drama Big Little Lies returns for a second series, while in The Goldfinch, due out in the autumn, she stars in a big-budget tale of a boy whose life is turned upside down following a terrorist attack at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The movie is based on the novel by Donna Tartt.

Yet it wouldn’t be a Kidman year without a further drive for diversity, and the echoes of Aquaman – in which she plays Queen Atlanna, the mother of the starring character, in DC Comics’ $160million blockbuster – still resound loudly. In probably the most left-field choice of her entire career, Kidman proves that in film, just as in life, the willingness to experiment is all that’s required. “It was a role that provided such a breath of fresh air,” she says. “I never thought I needed to prove anything to anyone else other than myself, and that’s pretty much the way it turned out, but it has been a brilliant experience.”

Kidman admits to selecting roles that appeal as much to her family as they do herself – the actress has two adopted children – Isabella, 26, and Connor, 23 – with Tom Cruise; and lives with husband Keith Urban and their two children: Sunday, 10 and Faith, 8. The family divide their time between their homes in Nashville, Sydney and Los Angeles.

“It’s nice to look on film roles as being something other than just for my satisfaction,” she admits. “Was taking Aquaman a risk? Well, maybe, but I’ve always trusted my instinct, and I certainly trust director James Wan, so it always felt like the right step at the right time.”

She pauses for a moment before adding, “I don’t feel I have anything to prove with my choices, but I certainly want to have fun… isn’t that the point!”

Find Your Local