Okay, kids, listen up: Best Supporting Actress is a hot category this year. We’ve got Sally Field in “Lincoln,” Jennifer Ehle in “Zero Dark Thirty,” Anne Hathaway singing her guts out in “Les Miz,” and Amy Adams in “The Master.” Jacki Weaver is sensational in “Silver Linings Playbook.” But wait there’s one more: Nicole Kidman’s sexy, incendiary performance as hot hot hot Charlotte Bless from “The Paperboy.”
Millennium dropped the ball on this film, which Lee Daniels directed specifically to look like a freaky Southern gothic circa 1968 with zoom in closeups and a kind of muddy patina to the film. But there is an Oscar DVD, and it’s gone out to Critics Choice voters and everyone else. If you’ve got it, watch it for Kidman’s work. It would be a shame to let it fall through the cracks.
Charlotte is one of Kidman’s best characters. She’s completely out there, wild, uninhibited, afraid of nothing. She looks like a young Ann-Margret. Charlotte is in keeping with Kidman characters from her many forays into indie filmmaking, like “Fur” or “Birth” or “Dogville” or “Rabbit Hole,” for which she was Oscar nominated. And let’s not forget her back-to-back home runs in “The Others” and “The Hours.” No other “movie star” takes so many risks doing small budget, edgy character work as Kidman.
I talked to the Oscar winner from Belgium where she’s been shooting “Grace of Monaco,” about Grace Kelly, with Olivier Dahan, the man who steered Marion Cotillard to accolades in “La Vie En Rose.” She told me she’s trying to wrap up and get to Australia where her sister Antonia is having baby number 6 in a couple of weeks. She’s 42. “It’s not a big deal in my family. My grandmother had her last at 49,” Nicole told me. She also said she will only have another child (she has two with Tom Cruise and two with Keith Urban) “if I get pregnant, if it happens.”
By the way: contrary to the tabs, Nicole is very much in touch with her older kids, Connor and Isabella. She says they’re doing great, but she tries to respect their privacy. Connor is in “Red Dawn.” Isabella is in school in London. That’s it.
But back to Charlotte Bless. Kidman did a Daniel Day-Lewis, and stayed in character for the entire shoot. When she (as Charlotte) and John Cusack (as her psychopath husband) meet in a prison waiting room and have sort of “psychic sex,” the actors had never met before and didn’t talk about what they would do in the scene. It’s so hot the paint peels off the prison walls. “John and I didn’t even talk to each other the movie was over,” Nicole told me.
“What I liked about the character was toughness. And I was always fighting for her fragility, her humanity. Lee (Daniels, director) brought out the sexuality. But I didn’t want to censor myself. In terms of being an actor, I wanted to go to a place that was dangerous. That’s the kind of stuff you try to find and don’t want to be frightened of doing. I’m trying to move out of my comfort zone.”
As for roles like “The Paperboy”: “This is where my heart is. I try to support independent filmmaking. And Charlotte is raw. This part is physically raw. I never got to play someone so damaged.”
After “Grace” is completed, and Kidman and Keith Urban spend the holidays in Australia, Nicole heads home to L.A. She’ll play the part of Urban’s wife (you know, real life) while he’s judging singers on “American Idol.” “I’ll cook,” she said. “I don’t how good it will be, but I’ll be doing it!”