JULIETTE MICHAUD: For two years now, you have been filming, each time with intense and very different roles. How do you do it?
NICOLE KIDMAN: It amuses me to think that when I was pregnant with my daughter Sunday, nine years ago, I wanted to retire. I have been working since the age of 14, I stopped school at 16 to become an actress with the blessing of great parents. I thought it was time to ask myself. I finally had a happy private life, maybe it was time to live peacefully in Nashville, where Keith [country singer Keith Urban, her second husband] and I have a farm. My mother had advised me to keep "a toe in the water," in case the desire to work arose in me again... [Laughs]
JM: Do you escape unscathed from your movies?
NK: I often go out on a shoot. That's why I just did Aquaman in Australia: besides the happiness of working in my homeland, I had to have a little fun! I had followed up Big Little Lies, where I play an abused wife, with the very confusing Killing of a Sacred Deer. I shot Sofia Coppola's Prey and Top of the Lake detective series, China Girl by Jane Campion. I needed to be a mermaid in a superhero movie!
JM: Do you play a siren in Aquaman? It suits you so well!
NK: I find myself at one point on a rock with my hair scattered on my shoulders, but I am not in the true sense of the term a siren that moves his tail from right to left [laughs]. I am rather a queen, with a beautiful crown, who is the mother of Aquaman. The film is comic and my daughters have been so mesmerized by filming that one of them wants to become a filmmaker. I owed them that: by making films too adult where my children could not visit me on the set, I began to have scruples.
JM: You also played in Neil Burger's comedy The Upside, the American remake of the French film Intouchables.
NK: I really liked the original that producer Harvey Weinstein had shown me, so when he bought the rights and offered me the remake, I signed. It was a breath of fresh air. Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart take on the roles of François Cluzet and Omar Sy.
JM: You've worked with so many legendary filmmakers: how do you define your relationship with them?
NK: I am, first of all, a movie buff. When I did Eyes Wide Shut with Stanley Kubrick, I had the feeling that it was my destiny, I felt invested, I had been marked at age 15 by A Clockwork Orange. I am not someone who has self-confidence. But, at the same time, I like venturing onto the screen where I dare not go in life, that's how I feel safe in the world, and I never judge my characters. Only human nature fascinates me, which can bring you far. So I defer to the directors, and I am so grateful to them for helping me to find the truth, that I will do everything for them. Even when they ask me for disconcerting things, like Yórgos Lánthimos.
JM: Your accomplice Colin Farrell warned you that working with the director of Lobster would be disturbing.
NK: Yes, I was warned! [Laughs] With The Killing of a Sacred Deer, Yórgos has writted a frightening, modern Greek tragedy. Once you have assimilated the phrasing of his universe, which resonates very peculiarly in the viewer's psyche, it is fascinating to play. This filmmaker reminds me a lot Stanley Kubrick. For an actress of my age, having the opportunity to move from such an offbeat universe to more realistic films, like Boy Erased that I shoot under the direction of Australian actor Joel Edgerton, with Russell Crowe, a film about reconversion Forced homosexuals by the Church, it is rather unheard of.
JM: What were the major turning points in your career?
NK: Ready for everything (1995) from Gus Van Sant, who gave me credibility. Portrait of a Woman (1996) by Jane Campion, Moulin Rouge (2001) by Baz Luhrmann, Dogville (2003) by Lars Von Trier... Lion, last year, a poignant film by Garth Davis about roots and adoption. I did not expect a fourth Oscar nomination for this role of adoptive mother. Becoming friends with director John Cameron Mitchell, who gave me a small role in How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which we presented in Cannes, with Elle Fanning.
JM: Do you also consider television to be an important step?
NK: Yes, even if nothing replaces the cinema. Reese and I produced Big Little Lies, which portrays middle-class women full of cracks and secrets in Monterey, because we do not find enough complex female roles. It's a project born of our frustrations of actresses in a Hollywood. But it's also the first season of Top of the Lake that made me want to watch television.
JM: What was your reaction to your role of a lesbian mother in season two of Top of the Lake?
NK: This is one of the roles that gave me the most trouble! I have four children, and now I'm given a lot of mother's roles, but this one is different. I play the adoptive mother of a girl who was abandoned by the detective played by Elisabeth Moss. I have long gray hair, my character, Julia, who lives in a relationship with a woman, is fierce, full of contradictions and just hilarious. But go internalize all that!
JM: After Sofia Coppola, you will meet another director with a very personal style, Rebecca Miller.
NK: I swore to work with at least one female director per year. I was very touched by Sofia's talent for creating an atmosphere, and by her combination of determination and gentleness. Rebecca, I had met her already since I shot Nine with her husband Daniel Day-Lewis. She is a beautiful woman and artist. We're shooting She Came to Me, with Steve Carell and Amy Schumer, a comedy in the world of contemporary opera.
JM: It's impossible not to mention your name without thinking of glamour. What is your relationship with fashion today?
NK: Amazed. All this has a very Cinderella side. The dresses I wear for galas, I have to give them back. But I do not just call my stylist who lives in New York. I am very interested in fashion. Having participated in the great campaign of Chanel N ° 5 with Baz Luhrmann remains a very strong memory. I recently went to a Dior exhibition in Melbourne, I was seized by the beauty of the dresses, exhibited as works of art, especially when I realized having worn two of his wonders. It is a privilege to wear one's "works" on red carpets, to show them to the world.
The Killing of a Sacred Deer by Yórgos Lánthimos is in theatres now.