Nicole Kidman: TV Is Where "the Great Roles Are Being Developed for Women"

Nicole Kidman - P 2017
Courtesy of BBC Worldwide

"I think there's an enormous appeal for actors working there because you have time to develop a character and for stories to unfold,” the Oscar winner says.

Starring in two major TV series in 2017 and having earned an Emmy nomination for her turn on Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman says the diversity and complexity of roles for women in TV are making the small screen more appealing.

Speaking at the Australian premiere of Top of the Lake: China Girl, the Oscar winner, who stars alongside Elisabeth Moss and Gwendoline Christie in the second season of Jane Campion’s drama, said that "great roles are being developed for women right now — they are not in film they are in television." She added: "They’re on both, but they’re rare in film though."

“I think in television right now, there’s great opportunity for women because it’s a place in which there is money and directors of this caliber [Campion and Ariel Kleiman] who are willing to work in that medium and write and explore their storytelling,” Kidman added. "I think there's an enormous appeal for actors working there because you have time to develop a character and for stories to unfold. Like Big Little Lies, where there was five amazing roles for women. That's where obviously the great roles are being developed for women right now."

Admitting that she had asked Campion — with whom she had previously worked in Portrait of a Lady — for a role in the first season of Top of the Lake, she said it was the reaction to the series that gave her confidence that a female-led series like Big Little Lies could get made.

“We saw Top of the Lake, and we saw what they were able to accomplish and that was how we were able to say ‘maybe we can do Big Little Lies’. Because at the time there was True Detective, which had male leads, and we wanted to do something that had female leads and was set in America. We were inspired by Top of the Lake. That was the stepping-stone."

But she acknowledged that creating Big Little Lies, on which she was a producer, was done “out of frustration."

“Reese [Witherspoon, co-producer] and I were frustrated because we weren’t being offered the sort of roles we wanted in terms of complexity and that was born out of a desire to create an opportunity for ourselves and our friends,” she said. “We were able to do that because we had the ability to go and option a book like Big Little Lies, and we had a company that gave us the money to at least develop it and then it took off.”

Kidman continued: “The more things that are made that are successful that have women as leads is great, because it inspires others and it also gives the people that put the money behind things the belief it’s going to be successful or has the opportunity to be successful. We’re all helping each other."

Working alongside Moss in Top of the Lake: China Girl was “really wonderful," Kidman said. “Here’s another woman who has two TV series this year. She also has The Handmaid's Tale, which is fantastic for anyone that hasn’t seen it, and she is, as Jane says, she’s brilliant in this."

Added the star: “We have very, very different energies, Lizzie and I, and the combination of those energies, with Ariel and Jane putting it together the way they did, it was fantastic. I got to play the very febrile Julie,...Lizzie has that sort of Mona Lisa energy. She has a very deep resonant energy and to act opposite that and watch that is really wonderful. She’s a great actress."