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Kidman's personal wounds give `Birth' to latest character, the Boston Herald, October 28th 2004

After the disappointing Hollywood remake of `The Stepford Wives,' Nicole Kidman returns in `Birth' (opening tomorrow), the kind of small, intimate drama that has served her so well in the past - although this one has a controversial twist.

'Birth,' like `The Hours' and `The Others,' stars Kidman as a woman under siege - first from grief over the sudden death of her husband and then, a decade later, as she is considering remarriage, with the appearance of a 10-year-old boy (Cameron Bright) who announces he is the reincarnation of her dead spouse.

For Kidman, on a break from filming `Bewitched,' an update of the '60s TV series, `Birth' is another outing that gives meaning to her life.

"I love to act. It's something that's in my blood, that I need to do. For this period of time, it's almost saved my life at times," Kidman said.

The reasons for this plunge into angst-filled art - a journey that has earned her a Best Actress Academy Award and made her Hollywood's Golden Girl - can be traced back to her two-year collaboration with Stanley Kubrick while filming `Eyes Wide Shut' with then-husband Tom Cruise and her subsequent bitter divorce.

"I wasn't interested really beforehand in exposing myself," she said. "I was in a relationship. I didn't need to have any other way of expressing myself, really."

But Kubrick, she said, ``really sort of took me and shook me up. He would say, `Nicole, you have to honor your art and not sort of squander it.' You know, when someone that you admire to that degree and that you believe in wants that for you, then you listen. He really encouraged me to be bold. So I hope that I still get to do that."

`Birth' director Jonathan Glazer didn't have Kidman in mind when he wrote this story of loss and letting go; Kidman contacted him after she read it.

"She totally understood the piece, and it plainly touched a nerve with her," he said.

"It was just obviously a woman who was grieving, and when you get into those sort of things, it just gets too personal," Kidman said, preferring to keep her emotional connection to this character private.

Privacy weighs heavily on her mind. In Paris, she found herself in Coco Chanel's famed suite, sitting on the bed by herself.

"I called my sister and said, `I wish you were here so we could really enjoy this.' But at the same time, I have a little cottage just outside of Sydney where I go, and I spend some of the happiest times in my life there. It's just, walk on the beach and be with my kids. If I didn't have that, then I'd feel crazy!

"There's something about when you're alone and you're not sharing this with someone else. If you don't have a partner, you're kind of struggling at times to go, `I've just got to keep it up.' I've got very, very close friends, and I've a great, very together family who are willing to get on a plane and be with me. That's rare, when you can call and say, `Hey, I need someone to hold my hand.' That sounds like really, really simple stuff, but sometimes the power of that is really extraordinary."

As for a new love and possible remarriage, Kidman said softly, "I hope that I find someone that is strong enough to understand it all."

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