Nicole Kidman reveals emotional toll of filming Big Little Lies abuse scenes

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Sarah Biddlecombe
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Big Little Lies is undoubtedly one of the most hotly discussed TV shows of the year so far.

A feminist tour de force, the series is a true championing of women, featuring both a stellar cast of all-female lead characters, including Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and Shailene Woodley, and being produced by both Kidman and Witherspoon themselves.

And as well as providing viewers with the opportunity to see how badass TV can be when women are allowed to run the show, the series also offered a number of important talking points – one of which being the domestic abuse scenes filmed by Kidman and actor Alexander Skarsgard.

In the scenes, Celeste (played by Kidman) is both verbally and physically abused by her husband Perry (Skarsgard), with the intensity of the attacks escalating throughout the seven episodes of the series.

Unsurprisingly, filming such traumatic scenes had a painful impact on Kidman, and the actor has spoken for the first time about how she felt once the scenes were finished.

"I remember lying on the floor in the last episode, being in my underwear and having just been really thrown around," she told The Hollywood Reporter, referencing one of the opening scenes of the final episode.

"I just lay on the floor. I couldn't get up. I didn't want to get up [...] I just felt completely humiliated and devastated. And angry inside,” she continued. 

“I went home and I threw a rock through a glass door.”

Kidman explained that she had been storing up “all that rage” from shooting the scenes, while Witherspoon added that her co-star and co-producer’s behaviour was completely out of character.

Describing a call she had from Kidman on that same night, Witherspoon said, “She says, ‘I've just done the craziest thing.’

“She got home from work and she had one of these horrible scenes and she goes, ‘I couldn't get into my hotel room so I threw a rock through the window...I don't do stuff like that.’”

When the scenes aired earlier this year, the show’s creators were praised for shining a light on such an important topic, especially since Perry’s abuse of Celeste always happened in private, thus none of her friends – who believed them to have a ‘perfect’ relationship – knew it was happening.

Domestic violence is an issue that is prevalent in England and Wales, with statistics showing that two women are killed every week by a partner or former partner, while one in four women will experience some kind of domestic abuse in their lifetimes.

“I think one of the lessons to learn is that we don’t ever really know what domestic violence looks like from the outside,” Mariam Durrani, public policy attorney at the US National Network to End Domestic Violence, told The Huffington Post in March.

“People don’t think that someone rich and beautiful in a seemingly idyllic life would be facing something like this,” she added.

“There’s a really dark cloud over her that isn’t visible.”

If you, or anyone you know, needs advice about domestic abuse, you can call Refuge on 0808 2000 247 or visit their website at

Images: HBO