Nicole Kidman: Nic at Twilight
Caught in a spotlight, Nicole Kidman can seem distant and reserved. But have a talk with her in quiet evening light, and she comes across as relaxed and open--about working with Sandra Bullock on her new film Practical Magic ("She doesn't take it all too seriously, and that's good"), about her never-ending shoot with Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut ("I would do it again in a second"), about Tom ("I've been going through a pretty romantic stage lately") and about herself ("I wouldn't mind having bigger boobs").
Nicole Kidman pulls into my driveway, gets out of her new deep blue BMW 850 holding two plastic bags of sushi, tells me she's starving, and walks into my house as if she's been there before. She offers to help my wife put the food on plates, places her keys on a table and says, "I lose everything--so remember that they're here." Two minutes in my house and already I feel her energy and determination. She looks younger than her 31 years, and she's a lithe, graceful five-foot-ten. In street parlance, it's easy to see that she's got game.
Kidman found an agent for herself at 14 and began acting in Australia, where she twice won the Australian Film Institute's award for best actress in a miniseries. At 19, she landed a starring role in her first feature film, Dead Calm. It didn't take long for Tom Cruise to want her in his film Days of Thunder, and by the time she turned 23 they were married. They starred together in another film, Far and Away, and recently completed working with the legendary Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut, one of the most anticipated and secretive films ever, and still not ready for release. In addition to those films, Kidman has done Billy Bathgate _(1991), _My Life (1993), Malice (1993), Batman Forever (1995), To Die For (1995), for which she won a Golden Globe, The Portrait of a Lady (1996) and The Peacemaker (1997). Her new film is Practical Magic with Sandra Bullock.
LAWRENCE GROBEL: You and Sandra Bullock play sisters in Practical Magic. Did you enjoy working with her?
NICOLE KIDMAN: Yeah. I never got to work opposite a woman before and I liked it. Sandy's a tomboy and she likes to have fun. She doesn't take it all too seriously, and that's good. We just laughed. We teased [director] Griffin [Dunne] and had a lot of fun together and have become good friends.
Q: Do you have many friends?
A: A lot. And I'm glad I can say that. Most of my friends I knew from Australia. They were actors and they're now leading the industry there. In L.A. not many actors meet each other because you're off and about and quite isolated.
Q: You and Tom were off and about for quite a while working with Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut.
A: Yeah, that took a year and a half and will never be seen by anybody! But it does exist.
Q: Looking back, how would you assess the experience?
A: People looked at us like we were crazy to go there. But we weren't giving up anything, we were working with Kubrick. Yeah, could we have done three other movies and made lots of money--who cares? This was an epoch in our lives. I will forever remember it for being this strange, wonderful experience.
Q: And how was Kubrick to work with?
A: People ask me if it was hell. I say, "No, it was the complete opposite. It was an honor." I would do it again in a second. Stanley is extraordinary to be with. I would just go and sit in his office when we weren't shooting, just to be around him. We'd talk about everything, politics, World War II, Peter Sellers, airplanes, computers. You name it, he knows about it. He's a genius and I love him. I miss him now.
Q: Do you think Eyes Wide Shut will be a major film?
A: I don't know, I really don't. I wasn't allowed on the set when they were shooting the scenes I wasn't in. I read the script, but it changed.
Q: Does it have the potential for greatness?
A: I know that Kubrick has never made an uninteresting film. What's the difference between an interesting film and a great film?
Q: You said Kubrick reminded you of your father.
A: Stanley won't like to hear that--he doesn't like to be viewed as a father figure. He was just very kind to me. I respond to kindness. If someone is beating up on me I'll try to rise to the occasion, but I respond to nurturing.
Q: Did you and Tom bring the characters home with you?
A: It was intense.
Q: How different are the characters from what you are?
A: I can't answer that. I'd love to, I'm dying to talk about it, but once I get into that . . . I've just got to be careful. There is so much interest in this film. Tom's been in a lot of films that have had a lot of interest, but nothing like this.
Q: Does that scare you?
A: Yeah, because you can never live up to expectations.
Q: What was your first meeting with Kubrick like?
A: We sat in his kitchen. I was nervous. I thought he was going to see me in person and go, "Oh my God, I made a dreadful mistake." Tom was also really nervous.
Q: You said in Vanity Fair that you don't like to work as much as you used to. Is that a result of your experience on Eyes Wide Shut?
A: On the film I got to live a lot, because I had a lot of time off. I went to London, Rome, Paris. I learned Italian. I still want to work, but now I want to live my life more than I want to work.
Q: You skydive, scuba dive, do aerobatics, mountain climb, let boa constrictors wrap around your neck--what thrills you about these things?
A: I'm addicted to adrenaline.
Q: Have you done any drugs to get high? LSD? Mescaline?
A: I've never done LSD, but yeah, I've done my share of drugs. I've been working in the film industry since I was 14, so I've been in contact with every drug imaginable. But I never was addicted to them. I get a huge depression after drugs. I was lucky.
Q: What adventure would you think twice before doing?
Q: Would you walk on hot coals?
A: As a spiritual experience? No.
Q: Be a target for a knife thrower?
A: A good one. I'd watch him do somebody else first.
Q: Go into a cage full of lions or tigers?
A: I've done that.
Q: Allow an elephant to step over you?
Q: Put your head in an alligator's mouth?
A: Yeah, why not?
Q: Hold a tarantula?
A: Oh yeah.
Q: Lick a mouse?
A: Lick a mouse! No. Gross.
Q: Get your tongue pierced?
A: Isn't that meant to be really good for . . . well, why get into that? [Laughs] Possibly.