Oct 30, 2017 Magazines Ali No Comment

December 2017

I first met Nicole Kidman about 15 years ago through a mutual friend. I don’t remember the exact moment, and neither does she. All I remember about those early days was her kindness and her beauty. Once, in London, at a mod hotel with great lychee martinis, we were both publicizing different movies and the place was humming with film people. My kids were very young then, sleeping upstairs; my husband and I didn’t get out much at the time, and I was enjoying this rare moment. Nicole was sitting opposite me, looking smashing, and I remember being so touched by what she said: “It’s important that we drink this in, and enjoy it, because one day when we’re old, we’ll have all these wonderful memories.” That really struck me. Nicole Kidman doesn’t take her life for granted.

There is a familiarity that develops between an audience and an actor who has dug as deep into the collective psyche as Nicole has. I felt I knew her even before we met: Her gaze—fierce, piercing, intelligent—has always drilled me to my seat. I can’t fidget when she holds the screen; my mind doesn’t wander. I suppose this is what they call charisma. “The way she hurls herself into her characters is unparalleled, and it’s so magnificent to watch,” says her friend and Big Little Lies costar Laura Dern. “She allows herself to be all women, but she doesn’t lead with shame or insecurity.”

I too am fascinated by the cocktail of talent, craft, and courage that makes Nicole so special. I would go so far as to say she is a character actress in the body of a great beauty. Consider a sampling of the emotions she brings out in her roles: the sociopathic charm in To Die For (1995); the soul-destroying grief in Birth (2004); the suicidal genius in The Hours (2002), for which she won an Oscar; the frightening dissociation in HBO’s Big Little Lies (2017), for which she took home an Emmy; and the chilling reserve in the just-released The Killing of a Sacred Deer. (To say nothing of the four—four—major films she has coming out in 2018.) The breadth of her work is tremendous.

At 50, a mother four times over and a devoted partner to her husband, country singer Keith Urban, she is also an extraordinary instrument of change—one who flexes her personal power not only in the world of motion pictures and television but as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador. “By using her global visibility to speak out for women who have suffered abuse, Nicole has literally given her voice to the voiceless,” says U.N. Women communications and advocacy chief Nanette Braun. Supporting other women is a central point Nicole returns to again and again, but for her, talking isn’t enough; she is all about the doing. I was so glad to be able to ask my friend how she creates her characters, and how her feminism informs the choices she makes on (and off) the screen.

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