Ahead of the release of her latest film, The Goldfinch, Nicole Kidman talks to Michele Manelis about film-making, family and transformation
When were you first aware of art and at what age did you have an appreciation for it?
I was always aware of art as a child and my parents made sure I had a lot of access to it. When I was a teenager, the first thing I did was get on a plane and head off to Italy so I could go to see the Sistine Chapel. Then slowly I discovered the old masters and made my way through Europe, falling in love with being able to see amazing art in person.
What struck me from watching the film is that you seem totally unafraid of physical transformation. How do you feel when you see an older version of yourself on screen?
Well, particularly in this film, when I look at it I see my mother. I look so much like my mother in the older version of this. It's actually kind of nice in a way.
What do the kids say?
They're aghast sometimes at the various transformations but I think they are now very captivated by the art form. It's strange because they very much rejected it earlier on but now they are growing to love it and it's interesting watching them absorb that and grow with that. We will see whether that ends up as a lifelong love and career for them but at the moment, I'm completely supporting all of it. I have one who wants to be behind the camera and one in front.
What do you tell them when they use social media?
They don't use social media. I don't let them go on it; they don't know it. I mean they know the words "Instagram," but they know they are not allowed on it. I mean, they are 8 and 11, so that's just not allowed.
What are the advantages of being a tall woman?
I've had a complicated relationship with being tall. When I was younger, I would always fall in love with the boys who were much smaller than me. I remember being at school and nobody wanting to dance with me because I was a foot taller than all of them. One of my most jarring images is this boy being dragged across the floor toward me and him going, "No!!" That scarred me for life. And then they would call me "Storky" at school. But subsequently I've gone, "Okay. Own it, enjoy it, wear your heels, wear your platform shoes and hold your shoulders back and don't stoop."
What are your favourite books you're reading right now?
Right now I'm reading Three Women, which is really … it's intense and heavy. So I am in the midst of reading that. Becoming, because I love Michelle [Obama] and then I have a book called Untangled, which is dealing with teenage girls, so that's on my horizon and I recommend it. So I have an array of things piled up on the floor.
When is it great to be Nicole Kidman and when is it not so great to be Nicole Kidman?
It's great when you are trying to get tickets to Moulin Rouge on Broadway, which I just did. I'm like, "Yep, I can get those tickets!" And then it's probably less great when I'm trying to go to Disneyworld and just slip under the radar or go to the beach in Florida and not be noticed, because my kids get embarrassed if people are coming up. And as a mother, a lot of times my children want me to just be anonymous, just a regular mum. So, they are always like, "Wear a hat, don't stand out." So that's probably where I'm always trying to go, "Okay. I'm under the radar for you."
Where will you be for Christmas?
Wherever my mother is. She has a tough time travelling now, so at Christmas time we all go back because of her. My sister and I were talking on the phone last night about it and we were saying that it's actually great for our kids because they will have memories that are going to be of the beach and heat and their grandmother and their cousins and cherries and peaches and that is what we have at Christmas time. And the memory of that becomes your childhood. My sister and I are very, very close and we have worked to keep our families together.
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Are you going to church? I read that some of your friends were teasing you about going?
It was really just in jest. Some of my friends said, "Why are you going to church?" but I have a thick skin about that and just say, "Yeah, this is what I do." I've settled into who I am as a person, whereas when I was younger I might have changed or hidden things because I didn't want people to know. But now I'm able to say, "This is who I am, if you don't like, you don't like it." It's a big thing to get to that point and it's nice that when you get to your 50s to find yourself at that place. And I am at that place.
The Goldfinch, based on Donna Tartt's novel, opens in New Zealand cinemas on Thursday.