Kid­man: In her el­e­ment.

Pow­er­house Ni­cole Kid­man is in her el­e­ment in new HBO se­ries Big Lit­tle Lies, but the hard­work­ing ac­tor isn’t stop­ping there, writes

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - CON­TENTS - SARAH BLAKE

AF­TER decades of lauded film and stage work, Ni­cole Kid­man is re­turn­ing to where it all be­gan: the small screen.

With a slew of tele­vi­sion roles to add to her lat­est Os­car nom­i­na­tion for Lion, the Aus­tralian ac­tress has never been in more de­mand.

While the slen­der in­genue, with her sig­na­ture cloud of straw­berry-blonde curls, con­tin­ues to win plau­dits for her best sup­port­ing ac­tress role in box-of­fice hit Lion – an in­spir­ing story about adop­tion and motherly love – she has stepped it up again in the darkly comic HBO adap­ta­tion of Big Lit­tle Lies. And she couldn’t be more ex­cited.

The seven-episode minis­eries, based on Aus­tralian author Liane Mo­ri­arty’s best­selling novel, has been a deeply per­sonal project for its lead­ing lady and co-pro­ducer Kid­man, who stars along­side Reese Wither­spoon, Shai­lene Wood­ley, Laura Dern and Zoe Kravitz.

“I love the length of it, I love hav­ing the time, be­cause I started in [Chan­nel 10 minis­eries] Bangkok Hil­ton [1989] and Viet­nam [1987],” she said at the Big Lit­tle Lies launch in Los An­ge­les.

“I love work­ing like this, you have 10 hours to de­velop a char­ac­ter, and to have the time to de­velop the char­ac­ter for me is so fan­tas­tic.”

That lux­ury to ex­plore sees Kid­man de­liver what her co-star, co-pro­ducer and friend Wither­spoon de­scribes as a mas­ter­class in act­ing.

Kid­man plays Ce­leste, a glam­orous re­tired lawyer with a wealthy, younger hus­band

and twin sons. But be­hind their ut­terly en­vi­able ex­te­rior lurks a dark se­cret.

One scene fea­tures a silent Kid­man watch­ing on for sev­eral min­utes as her hus­band, played by Alexan­der Skars­gard, talks about their mar­riage.

“I call that scene an act­ing class,” Wither­spoon said.

“I stopped watch­ing for a sec­ond, I had to catch my breath. I have never seen two ac­tors sus­tained in that space, deal­ing with such com­plex­ity. It was just ex­tra­or­di­nary. I would rec­om­mend it to all of our bud­ding ac­tors and ac­tresses out there: ‘Watch that scene’,” Wither­spoon en­thused. “Ni­cole dis­ap­pears when you watch her work, it’s re­ally beau­ti­ful.”

The feel­ing is mu­tual, with Kid­man heap­ing praise on Wither­spoon’s por­trayal of over­bear­ing, stay-at-home al­pha-mum Made­line.

“When you read Made­line on the page she speaks non­stop, but that’s an in­cred­i­bly hard thing to do,” Kid­man ex­plained. “There’s no­body else in this coun­try work­ing to­day who can do that sort of role, where you bal­ance the com­edy and the ver­bose con­stant fast-talk­ing with all of that emo­tion and hu­man­ity.”

TV is prov­ing a happy new hunt­ing ground for Kid­man, who is set to make her guest ap­pear­ance in Jane Cam­pion’s Top of the Lake (ex­pected to air later this year on BBC First). She also plans a TV adap­tion of Jan­ice Y.K. Lee’s best­selling novel

The Ex­pa­tri­ates, about three women liv­ing the ex­pat life in Hong Kong.

Kid­man, who is also pro­duc­ing a film of Liane Mo­ri­arty’s most re­cent novel

Truly Madly Guilty, said she was drawn to the author’s light hand with se­ri­ous is­sues, such as do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and di­vorce.

“There’s other is­sues in this as well. There’s sex­ual as­sault, there’s be­ing a sin­gle mother, rais­ing a child on your own,” she said.

“All of those things are just fan­tas­tic things to be talk­ing about. I’m just glad that they’re in a seven-hour se­ries that peo­ple seem to want to see be­cause it’s not … some­thing that’s in­cred­i­bly di­dac­tic and heavy-handed. This is funny, it’s poignant and it’s dev­as­tat­ing.”

BIG LIT­TLE LIES

TO­MOR­ROW, 1PM/8.30PM, ON FOX­TEL’S SHOW­CASE CHAN­NEL

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