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Entertainment & Arts

Nicole Kidman’s directors on her standout 2018: ‘Who else are you going to get to play the Queen of Atlantis?’

**DO NOT USE--FOR SUNDAY CALENDAR COVER STORY RUNNING 12/16/2018: WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA --NOVEMBER 11,
Academy Award-winning actress Nicole Kidman is photographed during a day of promotion for her film, “Destroyer,” at the London West Hollywood at Beverly Hills hotel, in November.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

By Christmas day, you’ll be able to choose your own Nicole Kidman adventure at the mutliplex. Kidman as a hardened L.A. detective looking to settle old scores? Check out “Destroyer.” Would you prefer her in supportive mom mode? “Boy Erased” has you covered. And if you want to see her play an otherworldly, protective mother who can single-handedly take out a squadron of enemy soldiers, there’s “Aquaman.”

We spoke to directors Joel Edgerton (“Boy Erased”), Karyn Kusama (“Destroyer”) and James Wan (“Aquaman”) about their collaborations with Kidman.

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James Wan, ‘Aquaman’

(L-r) TEMUERA MORRISON as Tom Curry and NICOLE KIDMAN as Atlanna in Warner Bros. Pictures? action ad
From left to right, Temuera Morrison and Nicole Kidman in "Aquaman."
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

What made this the perfect Nicole Kidman role?

“Who else are you going to get to play the Queen of Atlantis? Nicole is beautiful, elegant and brings the emotion to the character, which was very important because she only has a small amount of screen time to basically lay the emotional groundwork for the whole film.

Was there a moment when Nicole made a performance choice that felt uniquely Nicole Kidman?

There’s a really cute, little moment where her character has just been rescued and she wakes up and this puppy is sitting right in front of her. Since she’s Atlantian, she has no idea what a dog is. The dog reacted to her and then Nicole, remaining in character, reacted to the puppy, mimicking it. And then the puppy started mimicking her. It was classic Nicole, making a moment that wasn’t supposed to be a moment into something adorable and endearing.

RELATED: With ‘Aquaman,’ ‘Destroyer’ and ‘Boy Erased,’ Nicole Kidman is everywhere »

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Joel Edgerton, ‘Boy Erased’

(L-R) - Lucas Hedges stars as Jared and Russel Crowe and Nicole Kidman as Jared’s parents, Marshall
From left to right, Lucas Hedges, Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman in Joel Edgerton's "Boy Erased."
(Focus Features)

What made this the perfect Nicole Kidman role?

It struck me when I first saw Martha Conley in family photos that her slight frame and translucent skin made Nicole a good match in many ways externally. But more than that, there is a maternal warmth and strength I’ve seen on display with Nicole on screen that was perhaps more important than appearance.

Was there a moment when Nicole made a performance choice that felt uniquely Nicole Kidman?

To answer that would suggest that Nicole has a bag of tricks. I’m sure she does, but part of her magic is she blends with her characters so well that they all seem her and not her at the same time.

Karyn Kusama, “Destroyer”

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Nicole Kidman stars as Erin Bell in Karyn Kusama's "Destroyer."
(Annapurna Pictures)

What made this the perfect Nicole Kidman role?

She has an honest and instinctual approach to the material. And I respected that she had a healthy amount of skepticism and terror about the process and still wanted to walk with her eyes wide open into that.

Was there a moment when Nicole made a performance choice that felt uniquely Nicole Kidman?

There’s a moment in a flashback where she crashes a van, and I said to her, ‘I wonder if there’s some kind of animal sound we might hear from Erin as she recognizes the disaster.’ And Nicole did this thing on the first take where she just sank to her knees and screamed in this way that still haunts me. She went there and kept going there. We did six takes and all of them were different, but they all had moments of sustained wildness. With Nicole, you never know what’s coming next.

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glenn.whipp@latimes.com

Twitter: @glennwhipp


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