It’s been quite the year for Nicole Kidman, between taking four films to the Cannes Film Festival and starring in two TV shows. Kidman received her second Emmy® nomination this morning for her role as Celeste in HBO’s Big Little Lies. I spoke to her on the phone to talk about her reaction to the nomination and her relationship to the original novel by Liane Moriarty.
I’ve had films and TV, so the mix of the two has been like nothing that I’ve experienced before. I never would have thought that at this stage in my career that I’d be saying that. I’ve experienced a lot of things, but this has been really unusual. The power of TV allows you to penetrate people’s lives so directly and so quickly and to have access like that is beautiful.
I’ve produced things before, but to produce this with Reese and to see it take on a life of its own and find its way was so gorgeous.
The character is in the book. I go and portray her, feel her, and be her. I really do an enormous amount of work and research and then I give over to my feelings. Jean-Marc [Vallée] was so intuitive with me, and so was David. There were times when I’d call him and ask if I could add on something. I felt that some things needed to be emphasized so that people will really understand and get a glimpse into the relationship that is so destructive about why people are unable to leave as much as it’s frustrating for an audience. I would hope there’s compassion and understanding there because of the way it’s portrayed.
The Celeste/Perry relationship is very complicated, and that’s where television helps because you have seven hours to explore it and not 90 minutes.
Her sexuality and the toxicity of that at times, the thoughts, the self- blame, and the culpability that she feels are things that are hard to communicate. I’ve had people come up to me and say, “Oh that’s not true. There’s no way a woman would stay.” Someone said, “The minute he hit her she would have left.” (Yes, it was a man who said that.)
Celeste really got into me, and it was deeply emotional. My ability to connect with people through her was more so than any other role, and I’ve played Virginia Woolf. She was emotional for people because of the subject matter, but the way in which Jean-Marc did the therapy scenes and the way you get into her head is what’s important there. I’m so glad they didn’t cut all that.
I’m so thrilled that Jean-Marc, David [E. Kelley] and HBO took the plunge and showed it in its complexities.
You can re-watch it and rewind it. That’s where as an actor that if you don’t have it in your spirit, your body, and your soul, and you’re not acting from that place. In TV, people are going to go back and look and look. People have told me that they have watched the therapy scenes over and over, and they’re very nuanced. Jean-Marc let those scenes play out.
It’s so different. If you could give a polar opposite character, that would be it. To have Julia and Celeste in the same year is crazy, but I’m the recipient of Jane Campion and Jean-Marc Vallée.
I’ve always wanted to play different and diverse characters. A lot of the time you don’t get that opportunity. You’re only as good as the people that want to work with you. Reese and I were able to create the show for us and for our friends.
It was great to be able to give people that role and that opportunity. “Do you want to do it Laura?” She said yes, and she’s an amazing actress. Shailene and Reese and the children are excellent. They’re all good friends with my own children. Out of the show, I also got a lot of friendships for my children.
We want to do it. We all want to do it, but we don’t want to do it if it doesn’t warrant it. My belief is that these women warrant a second season, and Reese believes it too. The story lines and their lives and who they are can definitely be extended. I don’t believe that this series died on the thriller part of it, at least I hope it didn’t.
I’ve been working since I was fourteen. I can see things and how I would want to do them, but I don’t think I have the confidence. You have to be insanely confident to be a director, and my confidence in that milieu is not followed.
I have a nine-year-old who just shoots everything and edits. She is always writing stories. I’m watching her and she’s drawn to directing. It’s in her.
She shot a horror film the other day. She did the lighting, and it’s interesting to me because her vocabulary is through a camera.