Nicole has worked with some of the most famous directors in film history, as well as some lesser-known upcoming auteurs. Nicole often says that once she has signed on to a film, she places herself in the hands of the director and lets them guide her, and is willing to do whatever they ask. She is known for putting a lot of trust in her directors, and developing close working relationships with them. “I work well with people who are extreme,” Nicole has said recently.
Here we will take a look at some of the key directors Nicole has worked with throughout her career – why did Nicole want to work with them, and vice versa? What did they say about each other? What was their working relationship like?
British director Stephen Daldry directed Nicole to an Oscar in the 2002 drama The Hours, in which Nicole played Virginia Woolf. The filming took place in early 2001 – just after Nicole has separated from her first husband – and because of her fragile state she was reluctant to continue with the film. But her director drew her back in and helped her to make the most of the pain from her personal life. Nicole recently talked about this, saying “If you’re being completely drained in your personal life and you’re never being nourished there, it’s very hard to make it work. But sometimes, if you meet the right person who will mine it, and you’re open to being mined, it can really work. Stephen was able to mine me. I was crazy in love with him, and so I was like, I’ll do whatever, because I love you. I gave him every part of me that I could give him.”
Lars Von Trier
There are many words that could be used to describe Danish director Lars Von Trier – controversial being one of them, and it is reported that Nicole found him challenging (yet stimulating) to work with on Dogville. While she acknowledges his eccentricities, Nicole also relishes this aspect of his film-making, saying “He does things cinematically that nobody else does. And whether you love him or hate him, the filmmaking is incredibly strong,” adding that “there’s different philosophers in the world, and some of them are going to be extreme and controversial and some of them aren’t. And we need both.” Their relationship isn’t all intense though – when Dogville premiered at Cannes Nicole and Lars made a bet that if he drove to the festival in the South of France (he’s scared of flying), she would walk the red carpet barefoot. They both held up their end of the deal, and Nicole took off her shoes during the films premiere. Nicole later confessed that “he does strange stuff … he tried to get me to come out in a dog collar” at the same festival – she declined. “Sometimes you just say, ‘Shut up, Lars,’ ‘Put your clothes on, Lars. I swear, you do say that to him”. Nicole has said she will be working with Von Trier again soon, taking a small part in his sex thriller The Nymphomaniac. He’s offered her parts before this but she has turned them down, but liked the character in this new film.
Arguably the most important and influential director in Nicole’s career, Jane Campion was the one that encouraged Nicole to pursue acting back in the 1980′s in Australia!
Nicole and British director/writer/producer Anthony Minghella spoke highly of each other after working together on Cold Mountain.
Nine producer John DeLuca spoke about Kidman and Minghella’s relationship on the Nine DVD commentary (Minghella wrote that film), saying that Anthony had told him about Nicole and said that “he loved Nicole – he really, really loved Nicole”, and that he considered her his muse in certain films.
Nicole and Sydney were last photographed together at the Cinetographer Awards in 2007, where Nicole presented Pollack with the Board of the Governors Award.
Nicole worked with the late, legendary American film director Stanley Kubrick on Eyes Wide Shut. True to Kubrick’s perfectionist method of making a film, Nicole spent over a year working on the film, and shot take after take after take of each scene. While this may seem repetetive, Nicole says he had his reasons, which she as an actress appreciated – “He believed that what it does to you, as an actor, was that you would lose control of your sense of self, of the part of you that was internally watching your own performance. Eventually, he felt, you would stop censoring yourself.” “Stanley wanted six months of rehearsal. He didn’t want to start, and then he didn’t want to finish,” Nicole says of his dedication. She didn’t just learn lessons in film-making from Kubrick, she also took on board his advice on life – “Stanley taught Tom and I, ‘Never say no.’ When someone proposes an idea, you never shut it down. And that’s a good lesson that goes far beyond work. That’s a life lesson.” Kubrick died suddenly mere days after he finished editing the film, which greatly upset Nicole. She even teared up whilst talking about him in an interview about the film. Kidman and then-husband Cruise gave eulogies at his memorial service. Nicole has seen “most of Stanley’s movies many times”.
Nicole was reunited with her director at the 2005 Palm Springs International Film Festival, at which she presented him with the Audience Award for The Sea Inside. A couple of days after, Nicole supported his film by attending a special screening for the film in LA, alongside its star Javier Bardem and the director.
American writer/director Lee Daniels is one of the most recent directors Nicole has worked with, and also one of the most controversial. When offered the part of Charlotte Bless in The Paperboy, Nicole accepted because she had enjoyed Daniels’ work on Precious, and “wanted something raw, and I wanted to work with a director who was going to access something different in me.” Daniels was initially star struck by Nicole – “I was terribly nervous working with her in the beginning. It was so hard to remember she was a person. She could see I was in awe. And she said, ‘Lee, you’ve got to direct me. I’m just a working girl.’”
Nicole worked with the wonderfully talented Nora Ephron on the 2005 magical comedy Bewitched. One of the reasons Nicole took the part was because she wanted to work with Nora Ephron, and Nora showed us a side of Nicole we hadn’t seen before. “She’s really fun, she’s really warm, she’s really charming, and we haven’t seen her be this Nicole Kidman,” Ephron said. Nicole herself enjoyed working with Ephron, noting that she has the best catering in the world! “Nora is incredibly witty and powerful as a woman, yet she is also extremely nurturing. She invites you over on a Saturday night and she does all the cooking and she kind of has 30 people over. She loves to direct the film during the week and then entertain on the weekends. And I think that that’s something that people don’t realize about her, that there’s such a selfness to her and at the same time she is one of the smartest writers and smartest women working today,” Nicole told an interviewer in 2005. Both Nicole and Will Ferrell liked the original concept for the film that the Ephron sisters came up with when writing the script, with Nicole describing it as “clever and “cute”. Upon Ephron’s death in June 2012, Nicole released a statement saying, “Nora was a joy to be around; she was so smart, warm, and funny. I am so grateful that she was my friend and we had the opportunity to work together. My thoughts and love are with her family at this time. I will never forget the dinners, games, and laughter we all shared.”
Gus Van Sant
Australian director/writer/producer John Duigan was one of the key influencers in Nicole’s early career.
Technically George Miller has more of a producer influence on Nicole’s career, rather than a directorial one, as he has only directed Nicole once – in the animated Happy Feet. The Australian producer/writer/director produced a number of Nicole’s earlier and most important works, including Vietnam, Bangkok Hilton, Dead Calm, and Flirting, the first three of which played a large role in getting her attention in America. Miller was greatly instrumental in Nicole’s early career. Fast forward 13 or so years, and he was one of a number of colleagues that was invited to speak at Nicole’s American Cinematheque Tribute in 2003. At the event Miller sang Nicole’s praises with a number of words on cards, and described her as “born to act”, “rigorous”, a “risk-taker, never playing it safe” and that her “kind of glamour comes with substance”. He added that it had been wonderful watching the “rising trajectory” of her work.
On Tony Scott – “He made some of the great movies of the 80s, 90s and into the 2000s – it’s just devastating. I loved him, and he was so much a part of my early career.”