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
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  and Vietnam ,” 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