Nicole Kidman: “I am attracted to layers and complexity in characters.”
In The Undoing, Nicole Kidman stars as Grace Fraser, a therapist with an affluent New York life style that almost seems too good to be true. With a doctor husband who adores her, a young son, who is thriving and doing well in his prestigious private school, and a job that satisfies her intellect, she has what one could consider the perfect life. However, in this upcoming HBO six-part series nothing is quite what it seems at first glance. Based on the 2014 novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz, it is created by screenwriter and producer David E. Kelley and soon sends thrills down your spine. When the mother of her son’s classmate is brutally murdered, and her husband disappears right afterward, Grace starts questioning everything she has known to be facts. Then the truth starts to unravel.
Your co-star Hugh Grant called The Undoing scandi-noir even though it takes place in New York and is based on an American novel. Do you agree that you could call it that and why?
I’m not sure if it’s scandi-noir or cinematic noir, but it has Susanne Bier’s stamp on it and obviously she is Danish so it has a very Scandinavian feel. I’m very proud of a television series that looks so high quality and that has so much depth and complexity in terms of its characters.
Susanne Bier is in great demand. What made your production company Blossom Films choose her to direct The Undoing and what makes her such a great director in your opinion?
It’s her ability to be such a powerful leader and have such a strong vision for the piece and tell the story through a female’s point of view, yet still give very complex characters to the men as well. I feel she’s extremely talented and has this force behind her, that she can direct something for six hours with such detail and depth. I would love to do something with her again because she is so easy to communicate with and I have a deep love for her.
In The Undoing Grace is a smart and successful career woman – but it turns out that the man in her life was not what she thought he was. He is her soft spot so to speak. This was also the case with your character in Big Little Lies and to some extent in Bombshell. Do you see some overlap there?
These women are complicated and powerful with fragility, yet a lot of them have stoic qualities. So there is always duality in the emotions. I’m always looking for layers, I’m not interested in simple storytelling. Even though The Undoing is commercial because you can grasp the concepts of it.
Which characters are you attracted to at this stage of your life? Are there any common traits?
Having just finished The Prom, which is a musical, it’s almost like I’m going against common traits and trying to find polar opposites. I’m always trying to stretch and pull myself in different directions. I’m intuitive with roles. There is no rhyme or reason. I make a choice and then I commit with 100% of my heart.
You recently shot The Prom with Ryan Murphy. I believe you play a more lighthearted character in this. What can you tell us about that experience?
It’s been so lovely working with Ryan Murphy, Meryl Streep, James Corden, and Andrew Rannells because there has been an immense amount of laughter. Dancing and singing is such a joy, so I’ve been really excited to be able to do that. I love constantly discovering new things and I’ve been pushed beyond what I thought I could do, which is really interesting at this stage of my career. Ryan has been very nurturing and very kind.
I met a 50-year-old male actor at Sundance and he complained a little that it is not an easy time to be a middle-aged man in this business – because women are taking over now. Do you think this is true and how does it affect the business?
I’m hoping we are all working together. It’s so beautiful in The Undoing watching Donald Sutherland and Hugh Grant giving such extraordinary performances. I can only speak from my own experience, but watching these actors do what I consider some of the best work of their careers is so exciting.