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Leading up to her red-carpet walk tomorrow night as a lead actress nominee for HBO miniseries Big Little Lies and a presenter at the Emmys, Nicole Kidman took time Saturday afternoon to sit down for tea at EB Florals Perfumery & Gallery in Beverly Grove in her role as global brand ambassador for Neutrogena to talk beauty, bullying, her latest projects and how husband Keith Urban and a hot bath may be her best beauty secrets.
“My daughter has a high fever at the moment and we were going to fly in last night but I said, ‘I can’t fly her when she’s that sick,’ so we all flew in this morning; she’s still a bit off but she’s getting better. Motherhood!” exclaimed the 50-year-old star, fresh off the plane from Nashville but looked refreshed and pulled-together as ever in a mint-colored Max Mara dress with open-toe nude satin Jimmy Choo heels.
Congratulations on your [Big Little Lies Emmy] nomination.
It’s actually exciting that the whole show got so recognized. And also that people responded to it the way they did. Because we were hoping that there would be a place for the show. We always hope, but a lot of times it doesn’t work out that way. So this is just one of those rare, serendipitous moments when we’re all going, ‘Thank you!’”
And Top of the Lake: China Girl also just aired. There are so many great strong female characters in both. Do you feel like you have more freedom at this point in your career, creating roles or having roles created for you?
Big Little Lies was primarily Reese [Witherspoon] and [executive producer] Bruna Papandrea and Per [Saari], my producing partner, saying, “We’re going to option this book and try to make something of it because we weren’t being asked to play these complex, deep roles.” So that was us trying to create our own path in a way. Whereas Top of The Lake was my relationship with Jane [Campion]. Jane Campion’s been one of my closest, dearest friends since I was 14. I suppose that’s the way a friendship plays out. I did The Portrait of a Lady with her, but our friendship’s far more than our creative life. So when she said to me, “Look, I’ve written this role for you. Do you want to come and do it?” I said, “Absolutely.” I didn’t even know what the role was. Then I read it and I was like, “Oh, this is cool.” (Laughs.) And then it was fantastic because I went from [Big Little Lies‘] Celeste to [China Girl‘s] Julia and that is just like, as an actress, that for me [and other actresses have other desires] but for me, I’m interested in all different women, all different ages, all different things going on inside them. And it’s hard to find that with great directors. Because also the key is the director.
Is the Big Little Lies cast going to celebrate this weekend? Do you guys have plans? You’ll obviously see each other Sunday night.
And tonight! We’re all seeing each other tonight. We’re all really close. Reese and I and Laura [Dern] are particularly close. And then Zoe’s [Kravitz] off working all the time. We’re all presenting together tomorrow night. I don’t know if I’m allowed to say that. But whatever! I’m a rebel!
Do you usually have a speech prepared or think about what you would want to say if you win, or do you try to just live in the moment of “if it happens”?
That’s a hard thing, because the idea of not preparing is hard because then you’re going to not acknowledge people. But at the same time, the idea of preparing and not giving a speech. It’s kind of a little of both. You go, “Well, I don’t want to be completely shocked, but I also want to just feel it.” And I think [it’s] the genuine sense of feeling it, either way. But also, at this stage, this is an amazing place to be for a series that did not — I mean, it was a book and it came together so quickly. The expectation for it was not what’s happened. It just wasn’t. I think people thought it would play to a certain demographic and would have a certain place in the world, but they didn’t think men would watch it. So for it to have crossed over. And I was with 17-year-old girls in Australia, who were, like, “You have got to make a sequel.” I’m, like, “They’re 17!” Because my niece is 17 and they all watched it and loved it. So for it to connect to them, and then for it to connect to people my age, and then for it to connect with my husband’s friends — that just doesn’t happen. That’s crazy. I’ve never had it in my whole career, and I’ve worked since I was 14.
What are your rituals to remain calm and stay in fighting shape before the red carpet?
It changes. Right now, it’s a little askew (laughs) with just flying in this morning. Because I don’t live here; I live in Nashville. So it’s a slightly different dynamic for me. But I’ll just do everything the same in the morning. I’ll wake up, get my kids breakfast, have some coffee, read the paper, go for a run or a spin class or something, and then get ready. And then I’m committed to — I did this at Cannes — just savoring it and drinking it in and having fun. Because I’m always like, “Have some fun, Nicole” (laughs). So you never know what I’ll do! But it’s just important because it doesn’t happen that often and I just don’t want to miss the moment in terms of the joy part of it.
I’ve read that you really take care of yourself from the inside out.
Well, I sort of take care of myself from the inside. (Laughs.) I’m just a person who’s about moderation, but I really like reading and thinking about things and meditating on things and spending time with Keith and talking. I love talking. I don’t like big parties. I love dinner parties. I love being invited somewhere, and it’s yummy food and beautiful lighting and great conversation. But also yes, I wear sunscreen, which is why Neutrogena is probably the best combination for me because I’m a complete sunscreen addict. I would never think of going [in the sun]. I’m just been trained like that since I was little because I’m so fair. And both of my parents have had skin cancers, so we’re genetically predisposed to it and it’s something that’s a part of my life. And I was forced to wear the white zinc on my nose as a kid at the beach. So to have Neutrogena’s invisible zinc is a really great thing for me. And also for acting, like in Big Little Lies, I sit out in the cafe in the sun, and I would never be doing that.
Are there beauty regimens and secrets you’ve learned from working with so many experts?
I try to get sleep, but I’m not a great sleeper. The other thing is I’m lucky that I have a partner who’s just very relaxed, whose nature is a very mellow nature. And so that is a huge part of our life. He’s never gonna stay up at night worrying about something. It’s so nice because with my nature and partly being an actor is that my antenna is attuned to everybody. So I’ll say, “So-and-so seems a little off, don’t you think?” He’s like, “No, we’re just not going to worry about anything right now except going to bed.” So he really balances it. And I also love baths. I love having a bath. I love the idea of just getting into a hot bath. That really relaxes me. And putting on candles and some great jazz.
With Big Little Lies and Top Of The Lake and all these movies you have this year, it’s been such an incredible confluence of projects. Looking to the next year, do you have ideas of what you want to do next?
I’m about to do a film called Boy Erased that Joel Edgerton is directing with Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges. It’s a beautiful script that Joel wrote. It’s about [a gay] conversion [program]. Then I just finished Aquaman. I wore my sunscreen. For me to be in a movie like that was just crazy-fun for me. [Director] James Wan is just divine. He’s so talented. I love the diversity of [doing those films]. It’s fun. And to have that opportunity right now, I would never have thought. There have been times in my career when there’s been nothing. So that’s why I learned, “Well, okay, you’ve kind of got to generate your own things now and then.” And that’s where Rabbit Hole came out of. And I think now to be able to enjoy risks is because I’ve had to contrast and know the other side of it.
I think many struggle with ageism, especially with social media and society’s standards of beauty. As a mom, do you think about how to keep your girls feeling strong and confident in exactly who they are?
It’s an important question. “Strong is the new pretty” is such a beautiful slogan. Because yes, there is so much emphasis placed on physical beauty, but you can demystify it. I have a 9-year-old [Sunday Rose], so I see how they approach the world and a lot of their approach is through being strong, being mentally strong and physically strong and healthy, which is a better way to slant it anyway, because it’s coming from an emotional place instead. And it’s not to say you can’t be fragile or have feelings. But at the same time it’s about, “How do I build myself so I can have the path I want and do the things I want to do?” So it takes the emphasis off the physical. We don’t talk in our house in terms of anything to do with beauty. What’s beautiful is, “Oh, you’re learning that” and “What did you think of that?” There’s a huge thing in that we judge that younger generation in a severe way with all their social media and I think, at the same time, I read a fantastic article [that said how] they’re also really protective of each other, they’re really anti-bullying. There’s a whole way in which that generation now bands together. And as much as we make fun of the emojis and the this-and-that and the Snapchat, they’re connected. And they might not be connected in the same way we are, but they’re connected in a different way and they’re quite protective of each other. They don’t do each other in, you know? And there’s a camaraderie and it’s different. And then it can move into other things. But if that’s emphasized early on, they’re on it. My daughter just wrote a thing about anti-bullying, that was her essay at school and she’s 9. But that’s what they’re being taught. And that was never taught to me at school. We just had to handle it on our own. That was tough. And it’s gotten worse, but at least they’re on it.
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