CANNES – Her fourth Oscar nomination this past January somehow an afterthought, Nicole Kidman has arrived on la Croisette as, arguably, the queen of the 70th Cannes Film Festival. That may give Isabelle Huppert stans heart palpitations, but after nearly universal acclaim and an Emmy nomination in sight for her work on “HBO’s” “Big Little Lies” Kidman has not one, not two, but four different projects screening during the fest. And none of it was planned.
“To have four projects here, I mean, that’s a confluence of events. It’s not something I was aware would happen,” Kidman says. “At this stage of my life, I’m just trying to remain very bold and open and try things and support filmmakers I believe in and also people like Jane Campion, who has been my friend since I was 14. She discovered me basically. I’m at that place in my life where I still try act like I’m 21 and starting my career.”
Kidman was speaking during a press conference for her most acclaimed work at the festival so far, Yorgos Lanthimos‘ “The Killing of a Sacred Deer.” She gives a riveting performance of a successful doctor whose seemingly idyllic life is upended after her husband (Colin Farrell) tries to befriend the teenage son (Barry Keoghan) of his former patient.
“I feel the film has a hypnotic quality to it, and a lot of its was abandoning any analysis and just as Yorgos says, ‘forget all the preparation,’” Kidman says. “He has a very intricate way of creating a set and a vision for it and I think the job of the actor, particularly in his style of filmmaking, is to come and help that come to a fruition. And not distract. A lot of time Yorgos’ direction is ‘Please do nothing.’ Which is a very interesting thing and it’s a very, very difficult thing to do as an actor.”
One of the Aussie icon’s other films in Cannes, James Cameron Mitchell’s “How To Talk To Girls At Parties,” has already screened to mostly negative reviews, but Kidman still earned praise for her role as a punk era muse. Up next is Campion’s “Top of the Lake: China Girl” which will air in the U.S. on Sundance TV in September. She’ll end the festival reuniting with Farrell in Sofia Coppola’s new version of Thomas P. Cullinan‘s novel “The Beguiled.”
“As an actor, you are only good as the opportunities you’re given,” Kidman says. “That’s why I did something like ‘Big Little Lies’ because I could produce that, find that and make that happen. A lot of the time you are not in a position of power or control and I always say ‘An actor can’t be a control freak.’ You really have to be able to give yourself over to the process and really be willing to change and be molded. And I love that.”
While Kidman’s family has increasingly taken a priority in her life, she’s taking every opportunity possible in this “resurgence.” She’ll soon be seen in Neil Burger’s remake of the French blockbuster “The Intouchables,” “Untouchable,” produced by her old buddy Harvey Weinstein and as Queen Atlanna in James Wan’s “Aquaman.” The latter may be a small supporting role, but it’s still her first true studio movie since 2011 and according to Kidman there is a particular reason for that.
“I want to support people who are trying different things or have a very, very unique filmmaking style. Or are first time filmmakers who can’t get things made,” Kidman says. “I’ve worked a lot. I don’t have to work. I work because it’s still my passion. It’s still the way in which I express myself.”
And that’s why her latest coronation at Cannes (and by the media over the past few months) may actually be slightly late. This is the woman who buckled Hollywood to star in challenging and artistic fare such as Jonathan Glazer’s “Birth,” Diane Arbus’ “Fur,” Park Chan-wook’s “Stoker,” Lee Daniels’ “The Paperboy” and Werner Herzog’s “Queen of the Desert.” Not all of them were masterpieces, but very few of her peers have that sort of challenging resumé over the past 10 to 15 years.
“I’m still in that place to throw the word around but exploring,” Kidman says. “I love to be part of the exploration of the human condition. I think I have always had that slightly rebel spirit. I don’t want to conform. That’s just who I am. I have veered off that at time, but I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve had people who have stood by me and believe in me.”
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” opens in limited release on Nov. 3. Check out the rest of our coverage from the 2017 Cannes Film Festival by clicking here.