‘A love let­ter to my adopted chil­dren’

Nicole Kid­man ex­plains why her new film, has stirred up her emo­tions about the chil­dren she adopted with Tom Cruise

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FILM - By JOHN HISCOCK

Dur­ing the past year Nicole Kid­man has had what she de­scribes as “a mas­sive amount of work”, both as an ac­tress and a pro­ducer. But the one thing she wanted more than any­thing was to ac­cept the of­fer to star in the Broad­way pro­duc­tion of the award-win­ning play Pho­to­graph 51 which was such a suc­cess for her in the West End.

She played Ros­alind Franklin, the X-ray crys­tal­lo­g­ra­pher whose work at King’s Col­lege Lon­don in the Fifties led to the dis­cov­ery of the DNA dou­ble helix. Her col­leagues James Wat­son, Fran­cis Crick and Mau­rice Wilkins were awarded a No­bel Prize; Franklin was not — and her sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion has only been ac­knowl­edged posthu­mously.

“It’s a great play and a great role, and I would have had an amaz­ing time,” she says rue­fully. “But we had a fam­ily meet­ing and my kids said ‘No’. They didn’t want to go to New York for four months — and I get it. I’m not a sin­gle girl and not a child­less woman, and I need to bow down to that.”

Kid­man, who has two daugh­ters, Sun­day Rose, eight, and Faith, five, with the mu­si­cian Keith Ur­ban, now lives in Nashville, but we meet to dis­cuss her lat­est film, Lion, at the Four Sea­sons ho­tel in Bev­erly Hills. She is in the mid­dle of a par­tic­u­larly hec­tic sched­ule and has taken a brief break from film­ing Sofia Cop­pola’s The Beguiled, a re­make of the 1970 film that starred Clint East­wood.

“I was shoot­ing in Louisiana, got on a plane and went straight home to Nashville, so I was able to take my kids to school, spend the morn­ing with Keith and then got on another plane to come here to Los An­ge­les to ful­fil my obli­ga­tion to Lion and then I go straight back to Louisiana again,” she says, show­ing no sign of fa­tigue or jet lag.

In Lion she plays a real-life Aus­tralian, Su­san Bri­er­ley, who, with her hus­band, adopted two In­dian boys and raised them in Ho­bart, Tas­ma­nia. The film is based on the book, A Long Way Home, by one of the boys, Sa­roo Bri­er­ley (played by Dev Pa­tel), who was adopted after be­ing found on the streets of Cal­cutta when he was five years old. Twenty-five years later, with the help of Google Earth, he set out to find his real mother in an In­dian vil­lage, the name of which he could not re­call.

The story has par­tic­u­lar emo­tional sig­nif­i­cance for Kid­man, who has a grown-up son and daugh­ter, Con­nor, 21, and Is­abella, 23, whom she adopted when she was mar­ried to Tom Cruise. After she and Cruise split up in 2001 Kid­man shared cus­tody of the chil­dren, but they chose to go to live with their adop­tive fa­ther, were brought up as Scien­tol­o­gists, and over the years it has been re­ported that their re­la­tion­ship with Kid­man has been vexed. Ear­lier this year there were sto­ries of an emo­tional re­union with Is­abella fol­low­ing her daugh­ter’s mar­riage to Max Parker, an IT spe­cial­ist. Asked at the time about her re­la­tion­ship with her par­ents, Is­abella said, “Of course [we talk], they’re my par­ents. Any­one who says oth­er­wise is full of s**t.”

“When I read the script I didn’t know it was a true story and I was still so moved,” the 49-year-old ac­tress tells me. “I just wanted to be in it. I hadn’t played an Aus­tralian woman like this, so it was my way of con­nect­ing back to my coun­try. And I loved the mes­sage of un­con­di­tional love.

“The movie is a love let­ter to my chil­dren who are adopted and it’s not about any­thing other than ‘ I wanted you and what­ever your jour­ney is, I’m here to love and sup­port you’. That’s what I con­nected to. I wanted to make the film for them.

“When you are an adop­tive mother, of course you think about the birth mother and the birth par­ents and what it all means and how our lives are in­ter­twined in some way, whether the child chooses to find the birth par­ents or not.”

I sense a de­sire for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Kid­man and in­deed a few weeks after we speak she gives an in­ter­view to an Amer­i­can magazine where she talks in glow­ing terms about the first time she met Tom Cruise in an au­di­tion for Days of Thun­der (“He got out of the car and walked through and I was like, ‘Ah’. My jaw dropped”); and about their sub­se­quent mar­riage and adop­tion of Con­nor and Is­abella (“It was a beau­ti­ful mar­riage and all of those things that came out of it. Two beau­ti­ful chil­dren. The rest is his­tory.”)

For the last 10 years Kid­man has Lion

been set­tled in Nashville with Ur­ban. “I love it there, I re­ally do,” she says. “I am lucky be­cause I travel, but in terms of a home base, it’s so good for us. It’s very quiet and easy, and it’s just a re­ally lovely way of life. Keith has lived there for 25 years. So when I met him he said, ‘How do you feel about Nashville?’ And I was like, ‘Ab­so­lutely, I will move’. And I did, but I think I could move pretty much any­where if I loved some­body. I’m not at­tached to an en­vi­ron­ment — I am prob­a­bly far more at­tached to a per­son. So hav­ing to move some­where would never be a deal­breaker for me.

“It’s an easy, sim­ple life there. On week­ends we’ll go to peo­ple’s houses and ev­ery­body is around the pi­ano and play­ing the gui­tar and singing. For me, the high­light is be­ing around a whole dif­fer­ent type of peo­ple. I’ve been around ac­tors and film­mak­ers my whole life, so now I love be­ing around mu­si­cians and see­ing what gets put into their mu­sic. I get to sit in the back­ground and lis­ten and watch and hum along and it’s beau­ti­ful.”

She and Ur­ban met at an Aus­tralian pro­mo­tional party in Los An­ge­les in Jan­uary 2005 and qui­etly dated for sev­eral months be­fore be­com­ing en­gaged. They mar­ried in June the fol­low­ing year in Syd­ney, but four months later her new hus­band checked into the Betty Ford clinic in Cal­i­for­nia for 90 days of re­hab for al­co­hol abuse.

She stuck by him, en­cour­ag­ing him in his re­cov­ery. “I learnt an enor­mous amount hav­ing a re­la­tion­ship with some­one in re­cov­ery,” she says. “We were in a bad, painful place and man­aged to step through it. I love him for his hon­esty and brav­ery. Sim­ply put, he’s a won­der­ful, won­der­ful man and I’m very lucky to have him” — though as this ar­ti­cle goes to press there are re­ports that she and Ur­ban have en­rolled in a $10,000 cou­ple’s re­treat.

Kid­man has come through bad times — the failed mar­riage to Cruise, sep­a­ra­tion from her adopted chil­dren and the re­cent death of her fa­ther — and is now, she tells me, “down on my knees grate­ful for my life and truly I mean that. I don’t think I would ever have imag­ined this. But also, if I re­ally think about it, what I do is make movies. I was lucky enough to get a job when I was 14 and I’m still do­ing pretty much ex­actly the same thing that I was do­ing then — and with the same amount of pas­sion.”

“Lion” is out on Jan­uary 20.

Of course you think about the birth mother and the birth par­ents and what it all means and how our lives are in­ter­twined in some way.” Nicole Kid­man, ac­tress

PHO­TOS.COM

Nicole Kid­man and Keith Ur­ban at the premiere of held at the MOMA in NYC.

DAVID ROHMER/GETTY IM­AGES

Nicole Kid­man takes an af­ter­noon stroll with her adopted son and daugh­ter, Con­nor and Is­abella March.,

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