By now, you’ve seen that photo of a nearly unrecognizable Nicole Kidman in Destroyer, with her ash grey hair and worn-out-looking eyes: 


The buzz has been building steadily for her performance since its Telluride launch and knowing this, and knowing the first time it will be seen by a much bigger crowd of people (and critics!) would be in Toronto, well, you better believe Nicole Kidman would be ready to cash in on the hype. And that’s exactly what she did.

One way you know the star is eager to embrace a project — especially an ambitious gritty crime thriller indie — is by how generous they are with their time. It’s a little different than contractually obligated promotion on a so-so studio film. At the international premiere of Destroyer last night, Nicole did SO much press to promote Destroyer on the red carpet. She arrived very early and gave each outlet about three minutes of her time. And she made it worth it: lots of laughs, smiles, and she was very engaged with each question, especially those about “my love” Keith Urban. It looked like she clearly came with the intention of creating red carpet “moments” that could be used year-round to promote this film should it, or her work, go the distance. 

Earlier this year at the Canadian Screen Awards, her co-star Tatiana Maslany told my etalk host Danielle Graham that this was Nicole’s bravest performance yet. So, when we asked her about that, and about the hype for this movie on the red carpet, she talked about taking the risk. Then she said, “I was nervous [to take this on], but the response has been amazing. I hope it’s good!”   

In Destroyer, Nicole plays LAPD detective Erin Bell, a woman who is forced to relive her traumatic past as an undercover officer with a gang to solve a recent case. She’s not just living on the edge, she’s hanging off it. She told the Hollywood Reporter that “my husband couldn’t wait for the thing to be over, because he was like, what the hell has happened?! But you know, it’s called Destroyer". So the best scene, of course, is when Nicole and Tatiana (who plays a bankrobbing gang member) have an all-out girlfight in a coffee shop.

We asked Tatiana about that scrap, which was apparently shot on the first or second day of filming, and she said, “[Nicole] decimated me!! She was so strong! She would destroy me, no question. I was like actually trying to fight her, and she was like… no.”

And when we followed up with Nicole, we got this moment:


She let out a huge laugh, said, “Oh my God! Did she [say that]?!” 

Then Nicole turned around, high fived Tatiana, who was standing next to her, and says, “Can you believe that?! That was so much fun! And then I shoved you! And that was the first day! And I was like, this is a badass girl. And I kept being like, are you okay?! And she’s like… I’m fine. She is one tough cookie!”
It was the perfect on-camera moment for an entertainment show. And from the looks of things, Nicole was just as animated as she continued her chats. Tonight, Nicole’s back on the press line for Boy Erased, so it will be interesting to see if she’ll be as invested when it comes to her energy. And if she has the same faith in the gay conversion drama.

Speaking of Nicole and Destroyer, it’s been quite the week of celebrating bold, and often against-type performances. Melissa McCarthy was the runaway buzzy contender from Telluride to Toronto, and yesterday, I wrote about Julia Roberts’s best performance in years in Ben is Back. Then there’s Natalie Portman, the troubled popstar of Vox Lux. I noted in my post at the time that it was up for sale. The film officially got picked up by Neon last night, the same distributor that bought I, Tonya at last year's TIFF. So. This wide-open race continues to get more and more interesting.