Ni­cole Kid­man shows her silly side in­Padding­ton

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS in Bev­erly Hills, Cal­i­for­nia

Ni­cole Kid­man knows most peo­ple don’t con­sider her a comedic ac­tress.

In her 31-year ca­reer, her roles have ranged from the mo­rose to the de­li­ciously sadis­tic. There are a few straight come­dies in her re­sume, but Kid­man is the first to ad­mit that she just doesn’t get many of­fers to do that type of work.

She’s won an Os­car. She’s worked with Stan­ley Kubrick, Jane Cam­pion and Lars Von Trier. So how did she end up in a mod­est role as a de­light­fully vil­lain­ous taxi­der­mist in the chil­dren’s film Padding­ton with a rel­a­tively un­known di­rec­tor at the helm?

The an­swer is sim­ple: She was asked.

“The de­sire to run the gamut and be di­verse is some­thing you’re taught at drama school,” says Kid­man at the Bev­erly Wil­shireHo­tel.

“We’re trained in Shake­speare and then we’re trained in Noel Coward and we’re trained in mime classes. But a lot of times you’re not given the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plore the things that you’ve cul­ti­vated.”

For di­rec­tor Paul King, it was a no-brainer. But it wasn’t Kid­man’s 1996 ro­man­tic fan­tasy romp Prac­ti­cal Magic that he was think­ing of. He’d seen Gus Van Sant’s To Die For and knew Kid­man had to be hisMil­li­cent.

In the film, out on Fri­day, Mil­li­cent is a leather-clad, stiletto-wear­ing femme fa­tale who will stop at noth­ing to stuff the iconic talk­ing bear from Dark­est Peru and put him in a mu­seum.

“He wrote it for me. I’m not sure if that’s a flat­ter­ing thing or not,” Kid­man laughs.

King, who had mostly worked in Bri­tish TV, knew it was a long shot. “You should never write for an ac­tor be­cause they’ll just say no. But I did have her in mind,” he says.

The hard part was con­vinc­ing ev­ery­one to ac­tu­ally put the script in front of Kid­man. As King de­scribes it, it’s a process of be­ing po­litely in­sis­tent.

De­spite all the warn­ings that Kid­man was “never” go­ing to say yes, as soon as she heard the name Padding­ton, she jumped. Kid­man had grown up read­ing Michael Bond’s books in Aus­tralia and it just struck a nerve.

Ul­ti­mately, King says, she was the eas­i­est per­son to cast. She signed on in just 12 hours.

“You don’t of­ten see the silly side of Ni­cole and she’s such a funny, easy­go­ing per­son,” says King, who re­ally put the ac­tress to the test.

“I hope it gets a good re­sponse. It’s smart,” says Kid­man of the movie, ex­cit­edly talk­ing about how the phys­i­cal com­edy of the CG bear makes her two young daugh­ters “squeal with laugh­ter”.

Taken along­side a re­cent seg­ment on The Tonight Show star­ring Jimmy Fal­lon, where Kid­man charm­ingly re­vealed that the host had missed an op­por­tu­nity to date her years ago, it might seem as though the ac­tress who once uri­nated on Zac Efron for a role, is in a new phase of her ca­reer.

The past year wasn’t ex­actly a stel­lar one for Kid­man ei­ther, with re­leases like Be­fore I Go To Sleep and The Rail­way Man, and the­mys­te­ri­ous non­re­lease of Grace of Monaco in the United States.

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