Nicole Kidman: at the forefront of the crusade for women in Hollywood – and beyond

At 52, Nicole Kidman is delivering some of her best performanc­es yet. Her award-winning turn as domestic abuse survivor Celeste in Big Little Lies aptly coincided with the #MeToo movement, putting her at the forefront of the crusade for women in Hollywood – and beyond.

Nicole Kidman was first encouraged to hone her craft by New Zealand director Jane Campion, back when she was just a teen. ‘[She] was the first great mind to take an interest in me,’ says Nicole. ‘She pulled me off a stage in a local theatre where I was doing Sweet

Bird of Youth, playing the princess at 14 – ridiculous!’ It was this formative experience of women supporting women that she now reflects on, at a time when women in the film industry are rising up and speaking out against the once covered-up scourge of sexual harassment and abuse.

Nicole has since become one of the most highly sought-after actors in cinema, having made a name for herself as versatile, passionate and profession­al with roles such as Alice Harford in Eyes Wide Shut (1999) the courtesan Satine in 2001’s Moulin Rouge! and her Academy Award-winning performanc­e as Virginia Woolf in The Hours (2002).

And she doesn’t see any reason to start slowing down; stagnating is not an option either.

‘There isn’t a shelf life

‘I want to have my well of experience and emotion tapped ’ into, used.

like there used to be,’ she says. ‘That’s why it’s so important to keep changing. We live longer now, if we’re fortunate. So there has to be a place to put all that creative energy.’

After 36 years on the big screen, Nicole took on her first TV role in 2017, playing Celeste in the critically acclaimed Big

Little Lies. She and co-star Reese Witherspoo­n brought the show to life when they signed on as producers under their respective production companies: Blossom Films and Hello Sunshine.

Initially pitched as a movie, it was eventually developed into a limited series, with the pair in lead roles. ‘That’s pretty much what Big Little Lies was,’ says Nicole. ‘It was building opportunit­ies for ourselves and our friends.’

The show has since been nominated for 16 Emmy Awards and has taken home an impressive eight wins. Nicole also scored a Golden Globe award for her portrayal of Celeste. Big Little Lies features an all-star female cast, including Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz and Laura Dern, and acting titan Meryl Streep joined in its second season.

‘Nicole and I talk about this often,’ says Reese. ‘I’d been in a show with maybe one other woman, but never five female leads. I never even had that many conversati­ons on-screen with women who had the same size part as me. It’s pretty amazing to get to work with this group. I feel like it’s a singular experience I’ll never have again.’

Big Little Lies follows the complex lives of five women in Monterey, California, amid a murder investigat­ion. Nicole’s character is physically abused by her husband, a relationsh­ip that is portrayed with chilling realism in the show. ‘I felt very exposed and vulnerable and deeply humiliated at times,’ explains Nicole. ‘But then I would have flashes of images of women who have gone through this and I’m like, “This is authentic, this is the truth, and this is what I have to do.”’

Although she has had #MeToo experience­s of her own, Nicole prefers to bring attention to the issue by channellin­g more intensity into her acting. ‘Of course I’ve had #MeToo moments – since I was little! But do I want to expose them in an article? No.

Do they come out in my work? Absolutely. I’m open and raw. I want to have my well of experience and emotion tapped into, used – and I’m not just talking about sexual harassment. I’m talking about loss, death, the full array of life. But it has to be by the right people, so it’s not abused again.’

he actress has been married to New Zealand-born Australian country music star Keith Urban since 2006 and the two are still as besotted with each other as ever. ‘Nicole is my best friend,’ he said in a 2016 interview. ‘I have

never had anybody on the planet who knows me as well as she does. I would love to have been worthy of somebody like Nic, but I was a long way from it when we met, but somehow we found there was love there, real love. I literally feel like the luckiest guy on the planet.’

Nicole is just as effusive in her praise of him. ‘Keith and I always say that we’re so lucky to have each other. In this world, to be able to come back to that love and strength is so nourishing and powerful.’

The couple has two daughters together, Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret, and Nicole shares two adopted children with ex-husband Tom Cruise: Connor and Isabella.

She recently opened up about her 11-year marriage to Cruise in New York Magazine’s Women and Power edition, where she reflected on how her marriage essentiall­y protected her from sexual harassment in the industry. ‘I got married very young, but it definitely wasn’t power for me – it was protection. I married for love, but being married to an extremely powerful man kept me from being sexually harassed. I would work, but I was still very much cocooned. So when I came out of it at 32, 33, it’s almost like I had to grow up,’ she recalls.

The #MeToo movement goes beyond one incident or one individual, she says. ‘I don’t think it’s just the guys; it’s the whole culture of what we’re dealing with. It covers so many topics. If you’re talking about it in terms of gender parity in the workforce, if you’re talking about sexual harassment, there are so many things under that veil.’

Nicole maintains that a change within the industry, and in general, will come about when there is a shift in the mindset, the outlook and perspectiv­e of what has become socially accepted. ‘Going, “Oh, what I thought was okay because of how I’ve been raised is actually not okay.” It’s a big movement for respect, equality and decency.’

Her latest film, Bombshell, chronicles the downfall of former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amid the sexual misconduct allegation­s made against him. Nicole portrays former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, while Charlize Theron plays well-known journalist Megyn Kelly and Margot

Robbie’s character is a fictional representa­tion of various Fox employees.

‘I do believe, and I hope, we can elicit change through the stories we tell and the way we tell them,’ Nicole said in her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes when she won for Big Little Lies. ‘Let’s keep the conversati­on alive.’

The power of acknowledg­ement is important, she explains. ‘There is a huge strength in saying to women, “I believe you.” Just to hear that makes me cry. It is why an apology, a public apology, is worth so much to women who have been in this situation. Because that is what it means: “I believe you.”’

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 ??  ?? This pic: Nicole in Bombshell, a film about the fall of Fox News mogul and sexual harasser Roger Ailes. Far right: With husband Keith Urban at the 2016 Academy of Country Music Awards.
This pic: Nicole in Bombshell, a film about the fall of Fox News mogul and sexual harasser Roger Ailes. Far right: With husband Keith Urban at the 2016 Academy of Country Music Awards.
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