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Nicole Kidman on ‘Big Little Lies’ Season 2, Her Craziest Cannes Memory in Exclusive Interview

Variety logo Variety 5/16/2017 Ramin Setoodeh
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Nicole Kidman’s heels will be aching from this year’s Cannes Film Festival. She’ll be a fixture on the red carpet, launching four projects. There’s Yorgos Lanthimos’ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled” (both co-starring Colin Farrell). She plays a supporting role in John Cameron Mitchell’s “How to Talk to Girls at Parties.” And finally, there’s the second season of Jane Campion’s “Top of the Lake.” She spoke with Variety about all her various roles.

I want to congratulate you on being the queen of Cannes.

No, no. I’m not the queen of Cannes. I’m just a hired actor going to Cannes on four different projects.

How are you going to do all these red carpets?

I don’t know if I can do all of them, right? I mean I will show up and do what I can. I’ve got little kids in school, so I’m juggling that as well. But I will be there supporting my directors, and I’m just happy to be in a position where I’m working. The diversity of the characters was what was so appealing to me. They are all completely different. In John Cameron Mitchell’s movie, I’m speaking with a South London accent. And then you’ve got “Sacred Deer,” which is unto itself. And then “The Beguiled” is the Southern belle in the Civil War. And then “Top of the Lake,” where I play a radical feminist lesbian. There we go — bring it on!

Isn’t it crazy that in 2017, women directors are still a rarity?

It’s not crazy to me. It’s just the nature of the beast. But that’s why I’m happy to be with two female directors in Cannes. It’s part of my trajectory now — every year I’m going, “I’ve got to choose a female to work with.” I have a lot of female friends who are directors or trying to be directors. They are there.

What was it like giving Colin Farrell a sponge bath in “The Beguiled?”

It was actually really lovely, because it was late in the afternoon. He lay there. I really thought he was asleep. I bathed him for hours. Maybe two hours of cleaning his hands and his whole body.

He said you missed a few spots.

I don’t know about that, Colin. His lips are sealed.

You’re on a roll after “Big Little Lies.”

I cannot believe how it entered the zeitgeist. It’s really been a huge eye opener for me on the power of television, the power of that particular story and how it connected. It was glorious, actually. While it was on, the way people were coming up, saying: “What happens next?” They were obsessed. It was beautiful. I was very much part of people’s lives.

TV is more intimate because it’s in people’s homes.

Yes, and people would want to reach out and touch me. I got so many emails and people talking to me about it, which I like because it’s a really complicated relationship. I obviously understand it, so I’m able to talk about it in complex detail. It’s so based in shame, and the desire to protect her husband and family.

Would you do another season?

If the storyline could be powerful and compelling. If there is a way to form these women’s lives further, that’s really interesting. It would be so lovely if we could do it.

There’s so much good TV now. Are the movies dead?

I hope not. I love movies. I would be in mourning if they were dead, in deep mourning. I’d be grieving. “The Killing of the Sacred Deer” and “The Beguiled” were both shot on film. I think it’s up to all of us to keep hoping that the movies exist, because people still love to go to the cinema or discover them at home. I see “Big Little Lies” as cinematic. Having the format of what I call almost long films, a 7-hour film.

What’s your favorite Cannes moment?

I remember a wild party after “Moulin Rouge.” I think I was DJ’ing at about 2 a.m. Don’t ask.

Had you DJ’d before?

Not my forte, but I was up for anything. I had a few drinks. John Cameron Mitchell is having a big party this year, so I’ll be at that, dancing.

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