Profile: Nicole Kidman Talks About Her New Movie, 'Australia'

By Hank Stuever
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 23, 2008


She's changed, or something. That's her story now. She uses Lululemon words, like calm and universe.

She tells Oprah (and everyone else) about going skinny-dipping in a pool beneath some Australian waterfall last year with a half-dozen other women, and how they all got pregnant within weeks of that magical bath. She got pregnant, too, and drifted out of the public sphere for a little while on a fecund ray of sunshine. She tells Elle magazine about the enormous zucchini she grows in her Tennessee garden, on some secluded acreage in the hills an hour out of Nashville -- a humid paradise where she lives with her freshly rehabbed country pop-star husband, Keith Urban, the father of her baby daughter.

She gave birth in July at the age of 41, in a roomful of other women, and Keith. The way she describes it, it sounds less like a maternity ward and more like the epilogue of a Margaret Atwood novel, about a woman who escapes. She beatifically names the baby Sunday Rose Kidman Urban. It becomes clear right away that Nicole Kidman knows nothing of post-pregnancy flab.

She's added new glow to her old glow, and managed to lose some of that Stepford frozen-robot face. (What was she doing to her face? No -- you ask her.)

A Big Deal

The new movie is ludicrously huge. It's meant to be. It's called "Australia." It took 10 months to film.

Half of Hollywood is expecting a $120 million Vegemite bomb to go off this Wednesday when it opens; the other half believes in "Australia" deeply, almost weirdly. The thing is, no one has actually seen it. The director -- the hopeless romantic Baz Luhrmann -- is a notorious fussbudget, still fiddling with the final cut.

We are summoned to the Beverly Hills Hotel to speak about all of this with Kidman, alone, for precisely one hour (no more, no less) on a Monday afternoon in October -- even though she hasn't seen the movie yet either. "It's not my preference," she will say. "To sit here and talk with you about a movie this way, without really knowing. It would help, right? But I have ultimate faith in Baz."

("Don't fall for it," a shrewd friend admonished us before we went. Regarding Kidman. Regarding hype.)

We pull up to the big pink hotel with the city's tallest palm trees swaying in the hot, earthquake-weather vibes. We walk into what appears to be a fully staffed yet completely empty joint. Pretty soon we will totally, totally fall for it.


'Kissing and Galloping'

A cheerful Twentieth Century Fox publicist pops in a super-secret DVD and hits Play.

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