Nicole Kidman’s long game
I used to love Nicole Kidman, so much. In high school, my girl crushes were 1) Gwyneth Paltrow, 2) Nicole Kidman, 3) Lucy Liu (only Liu still merits a girl crush). Remember Moulin Rouge? Who didn’t love Kidman around Moulin Rouge? And then she was liberated from Xenu-captivity and she became a gossip magnet—remember the days of Lenny Kravitz and Robbie Williams and the “secret engagement”? Sigh. I miss that Nicole.
She was also making some of the best movies of her career in the early aughts. Besides Moulin Rouge, there were The Others, The Hours, and Cold Mountain all in just a couple years. There was also, in 2003, Lars Von Trier’s Dogville. Kidman has always been willing to go far afield in her work, so it didn’t seem unreasonable that she would re-team with Von Trier for his new movie, Nymphomaniac. That’s the movie Shia LaBeouf says he’s going to do “real” sex scenes in, and also that he sent Von Trier a sex tape he made with his girlfriend as an audition. But Kidman, who has been promoting Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, in which she pees on Zac Efron, has backed out of Nymphomaniac.
It could just be scheduling, sure. She’s currently in France/Monaco filming Grace of Monaco, so it would have been very tight going directly from one movie to the other. But I had two thoughts when I heard she’d pulled out of the project: 1) It can’t be because of the graphic nature of the story as she was totally okay with The Paperboy, and 2) Nicole Kidman is already laying out her Oscar strategy for 2014.
Grace of Monaco is due next year and is intended as award bait. It’s a plum part for a leading lady, and Kidman, who went into a career decline starting in about 2005 (how did Bewitched ever look like a good idea?), is just getting back to where she was ten years ago, with a recent Oscar nomination for 2010’s Rabbit Hole. Of all the projects she’s got lined up right now, Grace is her best bet at another statue. To that end, I don’t think Kidman would muddy the waters with a controversial film from a controversial director. If you’ve learned anything about Oscar campaigning over the last couple years, it should be that timing is everything and successful campaigns are about total commitment to the goal. You can’t go off message in an Oscar campaign.
If you’re banking on portraying a legendary beauty, a woman forever associated with poise, class and fairy tales come true to get you another bit of gold to polish, if you want people to believe that you are a princess, making a “real sex” movie with Lars Von Trier is definitely off message.