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« Ranking the Golden Globe presenters | Main | Who got the biggest Oscar boost from the Globes? »
Monday
Jan092017

A Cocktail with Nicole, Always Our Leading Lady.

UNICEF held a screening of Lion this past week in Manhattan with stars Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel and Sunny Pawar (who share the protagonist role of Saroo). I finally had the pleasure of getting some face time with Nicole at the party afterwards. The Monkey Bar's main room has restaurant tables and chairs circling the a big slightly lower open area where the stars enter and are then typically bombarded by press, photographers, and industry wellwishers.

The crowd gave adorable little Sunny plenty of space, looking so tiny and a bit overwhelmed while taking press photos, before he headed to a private table. Dev Patel worked the room shaking hands at tables. Nicole, at least from my vantage point, stayed in the center; you came to her. As it should be.

The statuesque star towered over me (she's only 1" taller, but, add heels)...

Her manner, though, is anything but intimidating. You can frequently hear her familiar daggy laugh and she knows how to take a compliment. She's had so much practice with the latter. I reminded her that we'd spoken on the phone for her rather jawdropping turn in The Paperboy

"You're my favorite," I mock-whispered in the loud bar, hand half covering my mouth in case other screen goddesses were lurking. "I'm not supposed to say that. Must. be. objective."

"Someone just asked me who my favorite designer is," she replied. "I'm not allowed to say that either!'" 

What she was there to talk about was Sue Brierley who she plays so beautifully in Lion. And talk she did, later in the evening to the whole crowd about her experience meeting Sue. But for now, I was getting a sneak peek. 

"Sue's life is so complex but it's also so warm. I love the maternal force of her which is complicated in the sense of what she's trying to maintain -- it spans years! We only get little grabs of her life [in the movie]. Trying to layer all that in is the work."

After telling her that she'd wowed yet again, delivering a fully complex woman in a place that many of us hadn't quite expected it ("mom" roles sometimes being missing two of the full three dimensions). I wondered aloud if she thinks of her occasional supporting characters as imaginary leads while playing them. 

"I always say whatever the size of the role, you have to do all the work. If you don't...," her voice trailed off, perhaps imagining the kind of nightmare scenario we're never likely to see in which she phones one in. "It's a lot of work to prepare to give it the complexity. Hopefully the role warrants it but I love doing the homework and the research. This was primarily learning all about Sue's life and asborbing her and starting to have her cadence. I naturally have some of that, being Australian. I've worked with women like her and I know her on a deep level. She felt the same thing"

Kidman and Sunny, her screen son, at the Critics Choice Awards last monthLater in the evening Nicole would detail more of that mother-to-mother bond to the Academy heavy crowd, but at this moment it was just her and I (tightly squeezed in a big crowded room but you get the point). I wasn't yet drinking, despite the cocktail in hand; her brief presence was intoxicating enough. I wished her luck with Lion

"It's so different than Paperboy, let's put it that way, right?" she said, laughing again, as the publicist turned her attention to the next supplicant. "Polar opposite!" 

more Nicole | more Lion | more Oscar race 2016

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Reader Comments (21)

This breaks the rule never meet your idols,I never understand the frosty reputation some say she has,I always find her warm and intelligent in interviews.thanks Nat.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordon

Just divine.

I wish you could do another full interview with her at one point. That, or at least share the "Nathaniel? It's Nicole" soundbit from your interview, so we all can use it as our ringtone.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTheis

I hate what they're doing with that little poor kid, parading him everywhere to drop him by the end of February.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

NICOLE!!!! I was beaming while reading all of this. She's one of those celebrities who you can hear the voice of whenever you read what they're saying.

And good use of 'dag'. These antipodean slang terms will make it eventually.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Frosty? I think she ends up with that because she's so awkward in an Australian way - just watch her first time on the Graham Norton show, she totally doesn't get his sense of humour at first but by the end she's warmed up and is now basically a regular on there! Similar I think, to how RPDR editors turned Courtney's awkward, blunt Australian humour into shade in their attempted 'bitch edit' - I live in Australia so I do speak from experience ha!

I love that she's getting so kooky as she's getting older, her red carpet last night with Tom Hiddleston was my favourite and she's beginning to come across like a very glamorous, crazy aunt who's had one too many Champagnes at her niece's wedding. (Feeling my fantasy!)

Her snub for the paperboy still hurts - what a performance. Seriously. As much as I love Jacki weaver, no.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMorganb

When I saw Lion, I totally agreed with all the people who loved Kidman's performance. Such a wonderful combination of delicacy, strength, and utter sincerity.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteradri

is her hair as wrecked close-up as it appears in the photos? hope she kept the terrible wigs

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpar

I always enjoy an interview with Kidman, she's full of enthusiasm for her craft and a disarming sense of humour about herself. That's a winning combination and essential for a long career.
She reminds me a bit of Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Thompson. They have reached that age where they've seen it all and can make fun of the pomposity of the entertainment industry.

It's always a treat to see Kidman sink her teeth into a good part.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterLadyEdith

!!!! I am so happy that you talked to her in person!!! Hopefully someday you can have full interview in person.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrew

Jealous! I'd be too terrified to approach her, spend about 10 minutes willing myself to go over there and if I managed it, struggle to speak above an audible whisper and hope I don't ask something stupid. Are selfies allowed at events like these? Because I'd put shame aside for that one moment.

I'm glad she's getting so much publicity these days. I'm also one of the very few who loved her McQueen dress last night.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck.

Derreck -- they're frowned upon (selfies) but it depends on the actual event. sometimes they're happening en masse in which case, go for it.

January 9, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nicole... only good performance was "To Die For". Meryl is Trump's over-rated actress. Nicole is mine.

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRJL

Nathaniel!! It's Nicole!!

January 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick Davis

Hope Oscar morning this year yields her fourth nomination.

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

She's so lovely :)

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEz

I'll hold onto my devotion with you, Nat. She's my favorite too.

Getting into film seriously in 2001, I don't think I could help but become an avid supporter. I love the image of her growing into even a more adventurous actress with choices and directors as she gets older. That image you created of her and her auteur list is one of my favorites.
So glad you got to meet her!

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

I adore her and always defend her fervently because she is the constant target of people who enjoy attacking her looks (plastic surgery and pale and hair and dress.... always something). She gets more of that than any other movie star and i think it may be because she d naturally statuesque and plays objects of desire. People need to be embarassed about how they obsessvabout her looks. One of my closest friends who is an fervent feminist who enjoys criticizing her texted me on sunday that Nicole's look scares her. So i reminded her that Nicole had been trucking along in the business come rain or come shine since she was 14 and she had a moment of "holy shit why am i so averse to her?!". At this point Nicole is not going away. She s a producer and she seems to be extremely well connected though maybe not as appreciated as we'd like. That said i enjoy Nicole Kidman much more than I enjoy Nicole Urban who is constantly talking about Keith and babies. I m hoping she ll do something like Elle or Requiem for a dream once her kids are grown up. Her slew of projects for bext year does give me hope.

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterTony T

Nicole. Goddess. The End.

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

She's my favorite, too. Nicole and Julianne Moore are tied for me. And congrats to Nicole for scoring her first BAFTA nod since The Hours. I have to admit I was worried about her odds of getting an Oscar nod for Lion. She's definitely fourth or fifth in line, but things are looking good for her, I have to say. She definitely deserves more Oscar nominations to her credit. Given how many great performances she's given over the span of decades, it's been frustrating to see other actors accumulate three nods in extremely brief periods of time (Renee Z, Penelope Cruz, etc) while some of Nicole's very best work has been unrecognized. If a nod happens for Lion, it will be a nice little bump for her.

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoe

One of my favorite actresses. She killed it in Lion. That scene with Patel where she shares her girlhood vision of someday rescuing a young tan boy was beautiful.

January 10, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichael R

lovely, funny and fun article. great site - thanks! she is somehow, always, nothing but real.admirably so

January 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKawika

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