Dear Gossips,

“(A) lot of my forces are maternal. I mean, they’re romantic too. I’ve always chosen to have really deep, intense romantic relationships. I don’t flit around, Laura. I don’t dabble. That’s who I am, and my mother’s always said it: “You’re just a child who attaches.”
-That’s Nicole Kidman talking to Laura Brown in the July issue of InStyle.

When I read that comment I thought immediately about Tom Cruise, perhaps because she says it right after her children are mentioned – Isabella, Connor, Sunday, and Faith. You could say that Tom also has “deep, intense romantic relationships”. We’ve seen how deep they are, how intense. Most recently with Katie Holmes but also with Nicole, in the early years of their relationship, when they first fell in love, and through parts of their marriage. Years ago I read an article about how Nicole reacted when she saw Tom for the first time after he’d dyed his hair blonde for Interview With The Vampire. I can’t find a link to it now because it’s been years, before the internet, but the point of the story was she rushed him immediately after laying eyes on him because she was so turned on by his new look. And, of course, they were not alone. In my head at the time, I imagined her jumping into his arms, wrapping her legs around his waist, and then they disappeared for a while. That was probably the goal of the anecdote – Nicole was hot for Tom.

There’s no doubt that Tom is “intense” when he falls in love. What you have to add to that, now at least, is how much of it is performance. And not just outward performance for the observer, but perhaps also inwardly, even in private. Tom Cruise lives on movie sets. What’s real to him is when he’s pretending – to chase and be chased, to punch and be punched, to investigate and be investigated, and, yes, to love and be loved. How does that apply to his life away from set? When he’s intensely in love, is he also playing himself being intensely in love? Production time on a movie is finite. Obviously it doesn’t work like that in a relationship. Can you play yourself being in love indefinitely? I’m thinking about this because I’m also remembering that alleged phone call. Did you hear about this? After their divorce, it was reported that a shady private investigator had wiretapped phone conversations between Tom and Nicole. One of those alleged conversations was an argument they had when they were both working on separate movies. Nicole was frustrated by the fact that Tom wasn’t present in their marriage. That he was always working and then always tired. She was asking for more attention, he was insisting that he was trying his best. Whatever intensity that Tom had for their relationship had apparently subsided. And for Nicole, who has always described herself as super “sensitive”, a word Laura Brown also uses in the InStyle piece, it had become a major problem. I mean, there were clearly, um, many, many other issues, but all of that, taken together, was the subtext for me when reading the article. Because Nicole Kidman has been famous for so long, at this point it’s hard to process an interview with her without thinking about and remembering all the rest. And this is precisely what actors – male actors – claim they want to avoid in their work. Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, has said that he doesn’t want his personal life to inform the audience’s impression of his roles. Which, sure, I get that.

But what’s amazing about someone like Nicole Kidman is that even though she is so famous and we have learned so much about her over the years, it doesn’t happen very often that when you’re watching Nicole Kidman in a movie or a TV show, you’re like, oh, I don’t believe this character, that’s Nicole Kidman. In fact, maybe you believe it even more… BECAUSE it’s Nicole Kidman? That was Joanna’s observation when she saw Nicole playing the mother of an adopted child in Lion last year. That’s what many of you were thinking when you saw her as Celeste in Big Little Lies. What Leo sees as a professional disadvantage, Nicole Kidman has made an artistic advantage. And now I’m wondering if there’s a bigger actor vs actress conversation to be had here in that approach. Click here to read the full Nicole Kidman interview in InStyle.

Yours in gossip,