Nicole Kidman
Photo by Austin Hargrave

Nicole Kidman: “You choose the path”

Short Profile

Name: Nicole Mary Kidman
DOB: 20 June 1967
Place of birth: Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
Occupation: Actor, film producer

Nicole Kidman stars in Destroyer, in theaters now.

Ms. Kidman, are you a spontaneous person?

I do have a spontaneous kind of nature. Like, “You want to go there? Let’s go there!” I mean, I like being up for anything. I think that is a virtue in terms of a personality. Because why not? I am on the journey and I want to see and do as much as I can and go to the weird extraordinary corners where a lot of people don’t go.

And what about in terms of your work?

I think in my art I have always been that way, yeah. I like shaking things up and I like trying things and I like being brazen and taking risks. I recently did a film called Destroyer, and it was so far removed from anything I had done. I had grown up on those films that Al Pacino, and DeNiro, and Gene Hackman and all those guys from the seventies made — these crime noir thrillers. And I was like, “Where’s the female one of those?”

“What are you interested in and how can I help support? You choose the path and I am there to back you up.”

There isn’t one! Did it take some time for you to recognize that imbalance in this industry?

Because I came from Australia, I came from a slightly different background in terms of filmmaking. I was in a little drama school and a lot of directors were writing for me. I had Dead Calm written for me, I had Vietnam written for me… But there certainly wasn’t a huge number of women directing at the time. Jane Campion was the first person to sort of take me under her shoulder; she was a huge part of shaping me and is still one of my very, very close friends. She is still shaping me! But I am raising daughters right now and one of them has an interest in filmmaking — and that certainly opened my eyes even more.

In what ways?

Because there are not enough schools that a 10-year-old can go to learn editing. So that is part of the mission too, is trying to create those places and institutions that will allow young girls to find their voice through cameras, or hone their skills, their technical skills.

Would you encourage her to go to into the film industry?

I am not encouraging or discouraging, I am just following. What are you interested in and how can I help support? You choose the path and I am there to back you up.

Is that philosophy something that extends to your peers in the industry as well?

I have spent a lot of my career being given opportunities by other people and if I am in a position to give somebody an opportunity, then I want to do it. I am at that stage where I go, “I want to meet these women because the statistics are still not anywhere near what they should be.” So I am happy to contribute and collaborate in that way. When I heard Karyn Kusama’s take on Destroyer, for example, and how she wanted me to look and the authenticity of it… She really wanted it to be down and dirty. That’s me! (Laughs) She wasn’t going to sort of gloss it over, so I was like, “I’m your girl, I’m in!

How long does it take for you to get out of a character like that after the film?

When I finished filming, I was so happy — as was my family because that was an awful place to exist in. It really was unpleasant. I didn’t like being in her body and her soul for that period of time, I just wanted to go back to my own life. This character in particular, I couldn’t perform it, I just had to be it.

That must have been exhausting.

It was uncomfortable! We had seven weeks to shoot the film so we were really under the gun and long hours and night shoots and that was just wear and tear physically and emotionally, but it was also needed. I just don’t think I could have shown up and then gone, “Oh now I am going to step into this.” It would have felt like I was doing a performance and I wanted it to be incredibly real and organic and I wanted all of my instincts and things to be right there. Not mine, but the character’s. And because of that, I didn’t socialize much.

“Sometimes there’s some give and take with it, it can’t all be perfect.”

You isolated yourself a bit?

Well, I was with my kids and my husband, but I was tired most of the time so they were doing a lot of taking care of me. It was tiring and it was disturbing.

Have you ever said no to an interesting project because you felt like you couldn’t go to that place at that point in your life?


Does that happen a lot?

It happens, I don’t know a lot, but it definitely happens. And it’s been roles that have gone on to win huge awards and all of those things. But I have a certain reason for doing things and I know what my body can take and what my mind can take and I think that’s just the journey and it is what it is and you walk away from things a lot.

It seems like you have learned your own limits over the years.

This is more to do with what can my family give, actually. If I was single and on my own and just working, I could probably go to many places and do many things most of the time. But I am not, and there’s a family here that is first and foremost the most important thing. I will not jeopardize that family. So sometimes there’s some give and take with it, it can’t all be perfect, but overall, if it’s going to stress the family too much, then it can’t be done.