While her ex-husband trumpets his new love from rooftops — or, at least, the Eiffel Tower — Nicole Kidman is quietly content with her own loves: their two adopted children and her work. HEAR IT NOW
"I'm desperately trying to be a good mom," Kidman said while discussing her new film, Bewitched, opening Friday. As for a relationship, "Oh, God — if I go down this territory, I end up with headlines and letters saying, 'I'll be the father of your child,' and I'm like, 'I don't know you.' "
But she's lacked the time, anyway. Since divorcing Tom Cruise in 2001, Kidman's career has soared, winning an Oscar for playing doomed author Virginia Woolf in The Hours and earning acclaim for films ranging from fever-dream musical Moulin Rouge to contemplative horror show The Others.
She's made big movies (Cold Mountain), small ones (Birth) and some in between, including Bewitched, a reinvention of the beloved '60s sitcom about a housewife with witchy powers.
Directed by Nora Ephron (Sleepless in Seattle), Bewitched takes a new tack. Set in present day, it has Will Ferrell as a vain film actor in a career tailspin who agrees to star in a TV remake of Bewitched. He casts a naive newcomer (Kidman) as his screen wife so he can upstage her. This doesn't work since, by coincidence, she really is a witch.
The original series starred Elizabeth Montgomery, who was married to Houston-born actor Robert Foxworth when she died in 1995. Kidman, 38, was a fan of the reruns while growing up in Australia, often wishing she had the magic "to pass my exams or get a great Christmas present."
If she could wriggle her nose to make magic today, she'd become omniscient about her kids, with whom she and Cruise share custody.
"You want to be aware of everything your children are up to," Kidman said of Conor, 10, and Isabella, 12. "When they hit 13, there's a lot of secrets, and my daughter will be 13 this year."
Bewitched sells the notion of love at first sight, but Kidman doesn't buy it in real life.
"I think you've got to get to know somebody," she said. "I'm shy and need it to be drawn out — to be coaxed out of my shell."
Her ex-husband's sudden giddiness is a stark contrast. And with growing skepticism that his whirlwind romance with Katie Holmes is a publicity stunt, Kidman's next words seemed pointed.
"I'm very protective of who I am," she said. "I try to be very honest — emotionally honest. You do that so you don't get accused of lying or your authenticity gets challenged."
Sure, she preens on red carpets in couture, but to her that's part of the job. When it comes to her private life, "I wear sweats and T-shirts. I live my life — I really do.
"I go to the movies. I have dinner with friends. I got up at 6 a.m. today to play tennis with my son. That's a great gift children give you: They don't allow you to be reclusive."
Also filling voids after a 10-year marriage is her work.
"At this time, my films are like my love affairs, where I put all these emotions into my characters," Kidman said. "When I was married it wasn't as interesting to me. I dabbled. Now I take it far more seriously."
Perhaps too seriously.
But light roles can be fun, too — as in Bewitched.
"I've had 12-year-old girls say they can't wait to see it, and that's really cool, because the last film I made for that age group was Moulin Rouge," said Kidman, whose next film, Fur, is an adult drama about photographer Diane Arbus. "Young people's enthusiasm for what you do is so unbridled. You feel it, and it's nice."
Bewitched did have one big demand: a special nose twitch for casting spells.
"Nicole had to have the nose twitch," Ephron said. "But I knew she'd be able to do it. It's pretty much in your mouth, but not all of it. It's both."
"They said my nose got me the role," Kidman said with a laugh — while refusing to demonstrate. "I don't know about that. But I should have been fired if I couldn't do that."
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