“I do know there is a huge strength in saying to women: I believe you,” says Nicole Kidman.
For decades, Nicole Kidman has graced our screens. We’ve seen her successfully take on the iconic roles of Virginia Woolf in The Hours and Satine in Moulin Rouge, and yet, Kidman is certain the part which has been the most influential is Celeste in TV hit-show Big Little Lies.
“When we proposed it [Big Little Lies], even getting it made felt like a coup,” Kidman told The Observer. “It was like, ‘Oh my God! They will actually let us do it!’”
But they had limitations placed on their creative process by HBO. Both Kidman and Reese Witherspoon were told the series could only reach “a certain demographic”. In short: only women watch dramas about women.
“The first night it came out,” Kidman recalls, “we were a bit bummed, the reviews weren’t so great and the numbers were just OK. And we thought: ‘Oh they were right [about the limited audience].’ Which felt devastating. Because we had put our heart and soul into it.” But then something unexpected happened: Big Little Lies seemed suddenly overdue, urgent, and of the time.
“We started our production well before #MeToo,” Kidman says. “And then it was percolating a bit when Big Little Lies first came out. That is why for that role of Celeste, there was a bigger response than anything I had done before.”
In many of the scenes, Celeste is both verbally and physically abused by her husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard), with the intensity of the attacks escalating throughout the seven episodes of the series.
Previously, Kidman revealed that the role would truly tested her.
“I would come home and cry after doing Big Little Lies,” she said. “I would cry alone. I would sit and I would have a bath and cry. And feel very distressed and not know exactly what to do about it.”
The series visited many talking points – not just domestic violence – with other female actresses Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley. And as luck would have it, Meryl Streep is joining for the second series, which will be broadcast next year.
But the first series premiered months before multiple abuse allegations were made against writer-producer Harvey Weinstein by several actresses. Having worked with Weinstein on Cold Mountain and Nine, Kidman knew of his “anger” but “would never have thought he was capable of the rest.”
“My parts with Harvey were quite limited,” said Kidman.
Kidman has previously admitted that she believes being married to Tom Cruise protected her during her Twenties from sexual abuse within the film industry. But she still finds herself crying when she sees what the #MeToo movement is achieving for women everywhere.
“I do know there is a huge strength in saying to women: I believe you,” Kidman said. “Just to hear that makes me cry. It is why an apology, a public apology, is worth so much to women who have been in this situation. Because that is what it means: I believe you.”