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Interview with Nicole Kidman promoting The Hours, BBC Films

Australian actress Nicole Kidman has stepped out of Tom Cruise's shadow in recent years. First with Baz Luhrmann's 2001 hit "Moulin Rouge", and now with another Oscar-nominated performance, as Virginia Woolf in "The Hours".

Did Virginia Woolf mean anything to you before "The Hours"?
I got to discover Virginia Woolf and her writings. Prior to the film, I'd encountered her at school, but I'd never responded to her in the way that I did when I started to read "Mrs Dalloway". At school I hated her. I thought she was boring, but that was because I was drawn to the romantics, like the Brontė sisters.

The role came following the break-up of your marriage to Tom Cruise. Was this role a kind of therapy?
Therapy... no. It was something that came along at a time in my life when I was raw enough or open enough to play it, and I was lucky enough to have a director who took me and coaxed a performance out of me. I think roles fall into your lap at certain times when they're meant to happen. I suppose that's what I felt with Virginia; she came along at a time when I needed to play her, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so.

What did you learn playing her?
The thing that fascinated me about Virginia is, she has this incredibly strong intellect, but also this emotional fragility. I think the combination of that makes her an extraordinary creature. I actually would not have cast myself in the role if I was casting the film [laughs]. When I first read the script, I thought I was reading it to play Laura Brown [Julianne Moore's character] - Meryl thought she was reading it to play Virginia. I think it's wonderful when you don't think you're right for something and somehow you end up doing it. [Director] Stephen Daldry had far more faith that I could do it than I did - thank God!

After "Moulin Rouge", are you going to be in Baz Luhrmann's next film, "Alexander the Great"?
He's asked me to do it. As I said to Baz, "I'll do anything for you, even if it's just a day's work or two years' work, you know that I'm there." He's asked me to play Leo's [DiCaprio] mother!

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