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Nicole Kidman

As an adoptive mother, Nicole Kidman felt a special connection with Sue Brierley, whom she plays in the Golden Globes nominated Lion, which tells the story of an Indian child, Saroo Brierley (played by Sunny Pawar), who gets lost in the country’s vast train system and is unable to return to his family. He ends up being adopted by an Australian couple, Sue and her husband, John Brierley (played by David Wenham). At the age of 25, Saroo (played by Dev Patel) traces his biological family with the help of Google maps.

Kidman adopted two children, Isabella Jane and Connor Anthony, during her first marriage with Hollywood superstar, Tom Cruise, whom she met in 1989 on the set of the auto-racing thriller Days of Thunder. Following the couple’s divorce in 2001, their children remain with their father, although Kidman keeps in touch with them.

Like the Brierleys, who opted for adoption instead of having their own biological children in order to give parentless children a chance, the Australian superstar says that she felt the need to adopt. “I had a vision of a child who would be my child and had exactly the same feeling that Sue had and that’s probably what drew me subconsciously to the project.”

In addition, the 49-year-old actress has two biological children with her current husband, country singer Keith Urban, whom she married in 2006. Nonetheless, she insists that there is no difference between biological and adopted children. “Once you step into the mother role, you really bond because bonding is what it’s based on. And once it happens, it’s so powerful. Sue says to her son ‘Whatever you are, however you are, none of that matters to me. It’s just I am your mother, and I’ll always be here for you.’ and that’s for me the true sense of motherhood.”

In spite of this profound understanding of Sue’s character and feelings, the veteran actress didn’t take the job of inhabiting her for granted. She spent ample time with her, quizzing her about herself and her motive in adopting a child from India studying her mannerism. And during the filming, she wore makeup in order to look like her. “Although there were limited scenes, I wanted to jam-pack them with her story and didn’t want to waste any moment, not even a glance. I wanted that to be authentic.”

Such commitment to her craft is evident in the roles that she has played over the course of her career, whether it was a mother like in Lion or The Others, a war correspondent in Hemingway & Gellhorn, a groupie in The Paper Boy, a cabaret dancer in Moulin Rouge or a depressed Virginia Woolf in The Hours.

Instead of settling into the comfort of playing queens, princesses, and high-class characters that match her glamorous look and graceful beauty, the superstar often subjects herself to the hardship of inhabiting broken and fragile personalities that have very little in common with her and fearlessly journeys into their convoluted minds and dark worlds. Even now those roles do not land in her lap: she actively seeks them out. “I think as you move along you tend to get cast in the way people see you and that’s frustration as an actor because you’re looking for things that are not what you are or what you’ve done. You’re looking to stretch yourself and work from a place of discomfort rather than a place of comfort,” she explains.

Watching Kidman on screen leasing her body, soul, and entire being unconditionally to the shadowy characters she inhabits, and listening to her speaking passionately about doing it, one gets the impression that there is nothing she can’t or won’t do, but that is not the case, she says. “There are times in my life when I have red lines because I’m like I can go there but at the same time it’s like jumping out of a plane for me. I can’t do anything where I hit or abuse a child. There is nothing in me that is able to do that.”

Her hard work has paid off. Since she made her film debut in the Australian Christmas drama Bush Christmas (1983) at the age of 16, she has enjoyed critical acclaim and collected numerous accolades, including winning 3 Golden Globe awards, out of 11 nominations. In 2020 Kidman acted with Hugh Grant in the TV miniseries The Undoing, directed by Susanne Bier, with Meryl Streep in the movie version of the Broadway musical The Prom, directed by Ryan Murphy.