PLAY­ING ROS­ALIND

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

I meet Kid­man in Lon­don a week be­fore the play is due to open and she’s ter­ri­fied about her com­ing role. She has gone back to her roots, ex­er­cis­ing a whole set of skills and mus­cles she’d for­got­ten she had. “When I said I’d do it, I ac­tu­ally didn’t re­alise how much fear I would have,” she says. “But I’m so glad I did, be­cause it pushed me so far out of my com­fort zone and made me find that place where there’s no way to go but for­ward. I have to go for­ward.”

Based on her im­pres­sive track record, she has ab­so­lutely no rea­son to sec­ond-guess her­self. Af­ter all, she’s cer­tainly no stranger to the stage—the Aus­tralian ac­tress has been per­form­ing all her life. Kid­man started tak­ing bal­let lessons at the age of three, acted in plays at school and en­rolled in the Aus­tralian The­atre for Young Peo­ple when she was a teenager. At 16, she landed her first lead roles in film, in 1983’s Bush Christ­mas and BMX Ban­dits. Five years later, she was in Hol­ly­wood, cap­ti­vat­ing au­di­ences around the world with one block­buster af­ter an­other. Among her nu­mer­ous ac­co­lades, she has won three Golden Globe Awards, a Bri­tish Acad­emy Film Award and an Acad­emy Award.

FAM­ILY LIFE

Af­ter a tu­mul­tuous mar­riage to Tom Cruise played out un­der the full glare of the Hol­ly­wood lights, Kid­man’s life be­came in­fin­itely hap­pier and calmer when she mar­ried coun­try singer Keith Ur­ban. “Time is pre­cious,” she says. “I’m in­cred­i­bly for­tu­nate to have found a part­ner who I have enor­mous syn­ergy and love with, and we’re rais­ing our girls to­gether with the same ideas and morals.”

Nowa­days, her life re­volves around her fam­ily. “I don’t ever make a de­ci­sion by my­self or just for my­self,” she ex­plains. “To do some­thing like the play—it’s a fam­ily de­ci­sion. Even the four-year- old gets a say in that. Time with them is the most im­por­tant thing. I know it’s a cliché, but it does go by so quickly, which is dev­as­tat­ing. That’s why I don’t want to miss any of it.” Be­cause Kid­man has two young chil­dren (she also has two older chil­dren she adopted dur­ing her first mar­riage to Cruise), be­ing based in Lon­don for the play was a sac­ri­fice, as her fam­ily is based in Nashville, where Ur­ban’s ca­reer is flour­ish­ing.

“It’s hard be­ing away, but we make it work. And I love making the world feel small,” she says. “Trav­el­ling fre­quently, and making films in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and play­ing dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties—i’m not sure what de­fines Hol­ly­wood now. I mean, I live in Nashville and I work glob­ally. It’s not really set up like it used to be when I was in my 30s.” It was her mother who pushed her to ac­cept the role of Ros­alind Franklin in Pho­to­graph 51. “I thought, ‘Oh, I can just stay home in Nashville.’ And she was like, ‘Do the play, Ni­cole,’” Kid­man re­calls. “At one point, I called her and said, ‘Are you crazy? This is so hard. I’m ter­ri­fied. I so wish I hadn’t done this.’” But, true to form, Kid­man pow­ered through. The crit­i­cal re­cep­tion to her West End turn has been over­whelm­ingly pos­i­tive. The Ob­server’s Su­san­nah Clapp called it “dra­matic am­phet­a­mine,” while Ben Brant­ley of The New York Times felt that Kid­man had sel­dom been bet­ter cast. “Among movie stars of her gen­er­a­tion, she stands out for the re­lent­less de­ter­mi­na­tion she projects; she se­duces au­di­ences not by charm but by con­cen­tra­tion,” he wrote. Prov­ing that her early panic really was un­founded, Kid­man was named Best Ac­tress at the 2015 Lon­don Evening Stan­dard The­atre Awards.

“SU­PERB.” “DE­CI­SIVE.” “COM­MAND­ING.” THOSE ARE THE WORDS BRI­TISH THE­ATRE CRIT­ICS ARE US­ING TO DE­SCRIBE NI­COLE KID­MAN’S AWARD-WIN­NING WEST END PER­FOR­MANCE IN THE RE­CENT RUN OF ANNA ZIEGLER’S

RE­MOVE THE CON­TEXT AND THEY COULD EAS­ILY BE TALK­ING ABOUT THE AC­TRESS HER­SELF.

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