Nicole Kidman, Hollywood’s den mother
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban walked the red carpet together at the premiere of Lion at the MoMA in New York last night. They were coy, playful and affectionate, and gave photographers several options of loved up photos to use and service to the press in service of Lion.
In Lion, Nicole gets the best, most gut-wrenching scene in the film, when she explains to her adopted son Saroo (Dev Patel) why she chose to raise him, and how that choice gave her life purpose. It’s very raw, and very relatable, given what we know about her personal life. When I wrote about Lion at TIFF, I wrote how Nicole is “so, so, so good” in this part, and that the added context only enhances her performance.
Except, as Lainey has mentioned, Nicole’s not gunning for a Supporting Actress win. She’s aiming for a nomination. Early buzz for Fences (plus the trailers – my God, the clips!) indicates that Viola Davis is the one to beat, and could be unstoppable. But that does not mean that Nicole still can’t fight for recognition — and her fourth nomination — while leaning into her personal life, using it as a career pivot, and promoting her softer side. An Oscar campaign (and nomination) is currency. And the first thing you think of when you hear the name “Nicole Kidman” is how warm and motherly she is, right?
Interestingly – Keith Urban told ET last night that Nicole is an “incredible mom.”:
"Loving, maternal, and [she's] teaching me a lot about how to raise children, especially girls."
Similarly, Nicole told the house crew why she related so strongly to Sue Brierley, the real woman and fellow adoptive mother she portrays in Lion.
“I don’t think I’ve known anyone the way I know Sue, because for some reason, well, I know the reasons…. We just connected and she’s so maternal, and I feel very safe with her and she’s very nice to me. And I just like her, you know? I wanted to depict her spirit and her beauty, and she’s just a loving, kind woman and I wanted that to be shown on-screen.”
Later, she noted that she holds extra maternal feelings towards her co-star, Dev:
“For me, I’m very maternal towards Dev, so those natural instincts just came out. And he’s very easy, he’s very committed, and yeah… he was just very open, which is always what you want from another actor.”
Nicole’s maternal touch also extends beyond the premiere.
According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg, Sunny Panwar — the little boy who plays young Saroo in Lion — spent most of the Governor’s Awards last Saturday in Nicole Kidman’s arms, and on her lap. Scott also notes that Nicole was seated next to her Lion producer Harvey Weinstein at the event, and that when Sunny began to doze off, she “carried him out of the room.” Very maternal.
LION child star Sunny Pawar where so many men have wanted to be: in the arms of Nicole Kidman. pic.twitter.com/cj4N2OuaKb— Scott Feinberg (@ScottFeinberg) November 13, 2016
This comes days after her Rabbit Hole co-star Miles Teller told the same reporter that he owes his entire career to Nicole, because she was the one who fought for him to star alongside her in the film… giving him his breakout role. We’ve heard this before, but it’s resurfacing now.
The day after the Governor’s Awards? Nicole is paired with her To Die For co-star Casey Affleck for her Variety actors one-on-one interview. To Die For is the 1995 film that Casey continues to reference throughout his own awards campaign, as one of his earliest and most high profile parts. He’s talking about it as much as he can, also mentioning it in a widely-circulated E! junket clip from earlier this week. Intentional or not, it’s yet another nod to Nicole’s nurturing side.
Certainly, it’s not uncommon for a Hollywood star, especially one as established as Nicole Kidman, to have several ties to other actors at various stages of their career. These connections are consistently shaping the same narrative as we move into the heart of campaign season - that she is inseparable from her character, and so a vote for her would be a vote for mom.