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Kidman too busy for romance - The Star, June 4th 2004

Movies, motherhood are focus of her life Stepford Wives star

Nicole Kidman doesn't think men resent powerful and successful women, one of the themes in her new movie The Stepford Wives.

"I don't see myself as terribly powerful or successful," she told reporters yesterday at a session to promote the remake of the 1975 chiller about suburban life, which opens next Friday.

Her gaze makes it seem like those concepts are alien to her.

"I see myself more as loving what I do. I love to act. I love to play an array of women who are fascinating and complicated. I suppose with that comes all the other things that you deal with in relationships."

She bites her lower lip before continuing. "So in terms of men, I don't have a lot of time to give to someone else. When you're passionate about what you do, it's hard to be as passionate about another person, even though that's what we all want to happen.

"I would love to have another child. I would love to settle into a relationship that's important to me, but I'm just not all that good at the balance it requires. I suppose it's what I grapple with all the time, but I still haven't learned how to do it."

The Oscar-winning actress has released eight films since 2001, recently completed two and has two more already announced.

It seems to be stating the obvious when she closes the door on relationship talk by saying, "It's not something that I'm focusing on right now. I'm trying to handle some creative things and deal with things that I've got going on inside my head."

She punctuates the last phrase by giggling and moving her hands in circles on either side of her head. At that moment, the 36-year-old actress looks like a teenager, but in the next second, she flashes a seductive smile and she's a woman of the world again.

Kidman today is featuring the hairdo that adorns all the posters for The Stepford Wives - long, blonde and wavy. She's in a demure silk dress with mauve and grey flowers against a pale pink background that's echoed in the colour of her lipstick.

She seems light years removed from the character she plays in the movie, Joanna Eberhart, a hard-bitten TV executive who Kidman describes as "out of control, power-hungry, obsessed with her career."

A professional burnout sends her and her husband (Matthew Broderick) to the small Connecticut town of Stepford, where all the women seem strangely perfect.

Joanna has no sympathy with them, nor does Kidman.

"Happiness is not found through perfection, or the quest for it," she insists. "I have a lot of insecurities and I'm nowhere near perfect." She flashes a toothy smile. "In fact, what I find most attractive in other people is their flaws, their imperfections. What someone else thinks is appalling is what you think is attractive. It's the mystery of life."

The wives of Stepford are all domestic goddesses that would have gladdened the heart of Martha Stewart in her prime, but once again, Kidman can't claim membership in the club.

"I'm good at cooking, which relaxes me, but otherwise, forget it. I can't sew, I'm a poor knitter ... oh, but I do wrap Christmas presents well."

Still, she resents the implication that a mastery of household skills resigns a woman to the plastic world of Stepford.

"My mom stayed at home most of our lives and I never saw her in stiletto heels or with her hair done up. She could sew with the best of them; she made all our clothes. She was a wonderful woman and a wonderful role model for me."

Motherhood, in fact, is the offscreen role that Kidman is devoting most of her time to, taking care of her two adopted children from her marriage to Tom Cruise: Connor, 10, and Isabella, 12.

"I found childhood hell," she murmurs almost under her breath, and then talks about how she tries to make it different for her own kids.

"I'm a maniac about protecting my children's privacy. Just because their mother is famous doesn't mean they are. I'm their mother and my job is to take care of them. I don't let them see some of my films, but then I put on The Wizard Of Oz for them, which was my favourite movie and they were like, `Get this off!'"

She leans forward to share her feelings, no longer a movie star, but a single mom, trying to do her best.

"It's hard to get information out of a 12-year-old, isn't it? It's like being a sleuth. You work hard, you fail, you succeed ... but that's parenting, isn't it? Balance, balance, balance."

And as you look at this very beautiful, but eminently sensible woman, you think of one of her final lines from The Stepford Wives:

"It's not about perfect. Perfect doesn't work."

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