Nicole Kidman: Loving the Gypsy Life
By Sian Edwards
May 27, 2014
Nicole Kidman stars as Princess Grace in Grace of Monaco. The film opened at the Cannes Film Festival and Kidman, 46, is in France’s famed city on the Riviera doing interviews. Amid much controversy about the film, Kidman is holding up well.
Married to country music star, Keith Urban, 46, the couple lives in Nashville with their two daughters, Sunday, 5, and Faith, 3. Kidman was famously married to Tom Cruise for ten years with whom they have two adopted children, Isabella, 21, and Connor, 19.
Today she’s dressed in a black jacket, a black lace skirt and black flat shoes. Her hair is long and glamorous and her makeup emphasizes her dramatic cheekbones and blue eyes. She’s a lot more open and friendly than you might imagine and this afternoon she talks about her life, her career and what keeps her motivated. Kidman will next star in Strangerland with Joseph Fiennes.
There’s definitely a resemblance between you and Grace Kelly. Have people said that before?
They used to say Ann Margaret, and then suddenly Grace Kelly but I think that’s just the way they shot me; the hair and makeup. A lot of that is smoke and mirrors. I don’t think I look in real life like her.
What do you have in common with Grace?
Well, I have children. I have a relationship, a husband, and a career. I sort of have a whole mix of emotions and things that are similar. I have a more fragile thing and then again I have a much stronger aspect too; the combination of the two.
Is it true that you very much wanted to play her?
I grew up really loving Hitchcock and therefore loving Grace Kelly because I know his movies so well. And then I heard they were doing a movie and Olivier (director) said, ‘Yeah, I would like to Skype you.’ And we Skyped, and we really got along and I thought, ‘Oh, this could be an interesting thing.’ I had just done The Paperboy and then I did a thing called The Railway Man and then I had about six months off and so I knew I was going to be doing a film with Werner Herzog, which I just did at the beginning of this year, so I thought, ‘Oh that could be interesting.’ I am always looking at it like a jigsaw puzzle where I want to try all different things, so this was a really nice opportunity.
You play Grace Kelly in the time of her life where she is not a Hollywood star anymore but not yet a Princess per se. Can you recall a time of your life where you felt between something and nothing, like she does in the movie?
Yeah, sure. I have had limbo places as well, where I think, ‘Gosh, where am I going to live? What am I going to do and where is my life going to end up?’ I have definitely had those things, but I am very fortunate in the sense that I am in a position where I am very free. I cannot work, I can just raise my children and hang out with Keith. I can work if I want to, and that’s a really amazing place to be in. And I think the reason I still choose to go do things is because I look forward to the relationships with the directors and the people I meet and the new experiences. If I was a writer, then I’d probably need to work and if I was a director, then I would have a whole different trajectory. But, as it is, I am an actor.
So can you imagine making the decision not to act anymore?
Yeah. I can imagine not acting anymore.
Even when someone else pushes you to do this?
I think if I was forbidden, that is a lot different than the choice. That’s the human condition is that we like to make our own choices and I don’t like being told what to do, I don’t think anybody really likes being told what to do. I found through my experience, you can give advice to people, but people ultimately are just going to do what they want to do. It’s interesting, raising children and also with friends and you go, ‘I really feel like you shouldn’t do that.’ And they just nod and then before you know it, they are doing it. So it’s human nature, and I am probably just like everyone else. If I was forbidden, then I would just be like, huh? But when it’s my choice, then I feel much better with that.
Is there a difference between playing a character and playing an iconic character like Grace Kelly? Do you feel more pressure? Yeah there’s probably a lot more pressure. I am probably oblivious to it, I am probably guilty of walking around with my head in the clouds a bit, but I do tend to be a bit day-dreamy and I do tend to kind of just go with the flow, and I am not a huge analyzer. I don’t sit down and strategize things because I just can’t be bothered, which has its plusses and its minuses.
And probably, it’s still why I continue to act because I quite like the gypsy life. I like the idea of not knowing what’s around the corner, I like all of that and I have children and I think it’s very good to expose them to different environments, different people, and different countries. We got to live in France, which is good to live in, and Morocco, as well as back in Australia. We move a lot. It’s just part of our family.
Were you aware before shooting this about the crazy fascination with the royals? Especially the interest in England with the royal family?
I don’t know. I find it quite fascinating, the whole culture of just everyone being interested in everyone else’s life so much. But I am probably not the right person to ask about that because I don’t spend a lot of time on the net. I don’t spend a lot of time sort of Googling and I have a strange relationship with that whole world in the sense that I really don’t… I am not privy to a lot of it. And partly that’s because of where I live and partly it’s because of my desire to keep a lot of that out, to keep protected and I also just enjoy other things. Like I would much prefer to go swimming. (laughs) I went yesterday and people were like, ‘Are you insane?’ But I like that. I like hiking, I like swimming, I meditate, I am still religious, I have a whole spiritual life that’s very powerful, and I have a strong faith. So there are a lot of things that keep me in a place that I find very real, for me. Maybe not for other people, but for me that works.
So are you generally easy in leaving your comfort zone?
I leave my comfort zone to go and explore and to keep pushing myself because I could easily stay home and just get lost in novels. I have a big imagination and a fantasy life that I can get lost in. But I am still given the opportunity… like Paperboy, Lee Daniels called me three weeks before they started shooting and said ‘Do you want to come down and play this character?’ And it was in New Orleans, which is really close to Nashville, and I was like, ‘Yeah.’ But then I go and I check with Keith and I ask him and I say, ‘Are we going to be able to make this work for our family?’ And that’s how we work it out. And it sounds old fashioned, but that’s actually the way I approach the relationship, is always to go, ‘How is this going to work for our family?’ And if ever it doesn’t and there have been times where it hasn’t, then I go, ‘I can’t do that.’
I love the story, you being in the bathroom, checking out the dresses for Paperboy.
That’s when I did use the phone, I texted him and I was like, ‘What do you think of this?’ (laughs) But people always think there’s so much thought that goes into things like that and it’s so random half the time, which I kind of like. I mean, the film I just did in Australia (Strangerland), we had no money so we were just like hustling to get shots. We would have to cut scenes all the time, and I suppose it’s just a whole different way of being. I mean, it’s a great thing that things like the Internet and Netflix and those different mediums are there for material and for storytelling that is now available because there isn’t always the money to go and make stuff, a lot of times that is kind of scrambling to get it made and that random thing is a great way to be artistic.
After all these years do you still enjoy the red carpet, the flashbulbs, the makeup, getting dressed up and getting your hair done and being the movie star?
Well, it’s very much Cinderella, because then it all comes off. (laughter) I mean it really is. And before you know it, it’s back to normal life. I mean I go home tonight and all of this is kind of gone, and it’s truly a blessing as well, because you go, ‘Oh, I am home now,’ and a lot of this part of it, I hate to say, it is a job. The great part of it is between action and cut. And I am sorry to say, but it is, and for some people, I suppose what they love is the red carpet and all of that stuff. For me, it’s actually the work part of it.
You’re known for your style but what is your normal style like at home?
It fluctuates, but where we live now, it’s extremely hot and humid during the summer, so I would have to say it’s long skirts and T-shirt and always hats, because I have fair skin. So a lot of times I wear hats, and the guys are all like, ‘What are you doing?’ But I’m also athletic, so I tend to choose things that I can go and hike in. I come from a family of athletes, my dad is a marathon runner and my sister is a tri-athlete and it’s pretty amazing.