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Swinging with Bing, the Daily Mail, April 8th 2005

Nicole Kidman was telling me how she has been enjoying her sojourn in Australia since the collapse of a movie she was due to make with her pal Russell Crowe.

She's been visiting her parents, spent time with her two children, seen her sister and has been "swimming, cooking, sleeping and playing".

Playing golf, I understand, with Steve Bing?

"Yes, but that's all we were doing, playing golf for a weekend," she protested after rumours of a romance between her and Liz Hurley's former lover. She quickly added: "So, anyway, my swing is terrible, I have the worst swing."

So what's the situation, I asked. Is Mr Bing a friend or is he more?

"He's a friend. Look, he came here for a weekend and we played some golf with my brother-in-law who, may I say, got cut out of the photographs used in the papers, much to his chagrin.

"We played golf and I showed Steve around Sydney, that was it."

Although Nicole describes the breakdown of the movie Eucalyptus Tree as 'an unhappy time', being able to have a break from work has been good for her.

She worked back-to-back on the thriller The Interpreter, opposite fellow Oscar winner Sean Penn, and Bewitched with Will Farrell.

"So I've gone from Sean to Will - pretty diverse leading men, eh?"

In Sydney Pollack's The Interpreter, Nicole plays a United Nations language expert who uncovers a plot to assassinate an African dictator at the UN.

Enter Penn as a secret service agent tasked with keeping order at the UN headquarters. If you don't think about the plot too much you can have fun sitting in the dark lapping up The Interpreter.

Nicole had to learn a dialect specially designed for the movie, and how to get on with Penn.

"Sean is what you'd classify as an actor's actor. He's all about performance and, because he's a director as well, he's very, very precise. It was an unusual combination - Sean, Sydney and I - but that's what made me want to do it."

But they got on and are hoping to work together on another movie. Was Sean someone she could have a laugh with, I wondered.

"Everyone thinks he's serious, but he has a sense of fun and play and was always calling up after work and going: 'Come on, let's go to this jazz club.'"

One reason for doing Hollywood pictures is that it allows Nicole to pick smaller, more personal films such as Lars Von Trier's Dogville and Jonathan Glazer's Birth.

"I've done some of the wildest, craziest films and you can never predict how they are going to be received."

Working with Von Trier was one such mad time. But suddenly she tells me: "I'm going back for more."

What? "I knew you'd laugh, but I'm going to do another film with Lars."

Dogville was part of a trilogy and she and Von Trier are discussing the possibility of her filming Wasington.

She goes quiet for a moment when I ask if she's ever lonely. "At times I am. You can live your life and walk around saying 'I'm happy' or 'I'm this and that' but your state of being changes a lot, and I should hope so.

"I hope I'm human and living my life the way everybody else is, in a feeling, intuitive way. As you get older, life takes you on strange journeys at different times."

Indeed, one such journey is to London next week for the UK premiere of The Interpreter, during which she'll check out the musical Billy Elliot, Derek Jacobi in Don Carlos, Mary Poppins and, if there's time, The History Boys.

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