Nicole Kidman Is Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass
Wicked meets Versace with an evil hench-monkey to boot.
Nicole Kidman certainly epitomizes the glamorous life of a Hollywood star. The press junket for The Golden Compass took place across the pond in London last week. There were quite a few events with the cast and crew, sans Nicole Kidman, who was kept away from the lurking media until the last press conference. I've seen local U.S. reporters chomp at the bit for some Kidman action, but the international press were really fired up. It was a scene, about as ostentatious as it gets. They also had a genteel British moderator to deflect any personal questions (insert Keith Urban here) and to make sure the other cast/crew got some questions thrown their way. I must say it was a rather impressive display of international stardom. I guess Nicole is truly a story the world over.
The good news is that she's great in The Golden Compass. Her character, the queen of mean Mrs. Coulter, goes through a lot of character development throughout the books; but is delightfully evil in the first film. I would have hoped for some better questions, especially about working with Daniel Craig again after the tremendous flop "The Invasion"; but the mic never came my way. No worries though, got my fill of ale, bangers and mash, tea and crumpets, cricket, and a few fit birds...whatever that means;)
This is another movie where you've been a bad woman to little children, The Others being the first...
Nicole Kidman: Oh right, you're talking about Margot at the Wedding also.
Did you ever feel a little guilty about scaring Dakota Blue Richards?
Nicole Kidman: There were points where I had to grab her wrist and say, "Are you all right?" I feel very strongly about it because I work with children in practically every film I've done recently. I think you need to really define what you're doing because it can be very confusing. Even as it's her first film, she (Dakota) has so much poise, almost like working with an adult. There are other children you work with that you really have to be so protective and careful with. The other thing is Dakota has beautiful skin. It blushes. And as an actor that is glorious. If you can capture that, and they do capture that with her on film at times, it really helps the performance in such a beautiful way.
Did you relish playing bad?
Nicole Kidman: With Mrs. Coulter, I hope we get to make all three films because I love playing her and obviously it's just a tiny little bit of her right now. If you know the rest of the trilogy, the way in which it explodes, layers of her are peeled away, which is exciting to me. I see her as very complicated, so obviously she's morally questionable at times, but also, and it gives away the film if I talk about it too much, there is a pulse in her heart beating her, that's driving her to do things. That's probably what I was really insistent upon with Chris [Weitz, the director] is that you could feel that pulsing through her at all times. Chris was so great with that because he was always trying to give me the opportunity to show the complexity to the woman. And Philip [Pullman, the author] really spelled out so much of her psychological makeup. I hope we get to make the trilogy because that would be really exciting as an actor.
Is it true that playing this character was a bit of a hard sell for you?
Nicole Kidman: I think that must be in the press kit that I did not read properly, I'm sorry to say, but I'm glad you all did. I actually just didn't want to work. When I originally was offered the part, I was at a place in my life where I was in Tennessee and feeling a little lazy and wanting to hang out. And then Chris actually sent me a letter and Philip Pullman sent me a letter. With those two letters I was seduced, and I'm really glad that I was. It wasn't so much about the villain, it was more my own laziness.
What's your take on fantasy in general and what fairy tales did you grow up on?
Nicole Kidman: I'm not a huge fan of fantasy. I've always been drawn to more psychological dramas, but I think what drew me to this was that it has the intricacies of the characters to allow strong performances. That's what I found compelling about it. In terms of fairy tales, I grew up with a lot of literature because my mother always would read to me...a lot of Roald Dahl, The Narnia Chronicles. I really think that when you have a film like this that's based on books, people feel so passionately about, it's wonderful. There's also people in these films. I'm glad to be in a film where there are people and it's not just animated.
What's your take on the Catholic Church's claim that this film and the books are anti-religion?
Nicole Kidman: I don't believe that when you see the film that it will be the same. I think there's almost an alarmist approach to it right now and when you see the film that will be dissipated. That's simply put. I don't want to make a film that's anti-religious or anti-Catholic. I come from a Catholic family so that's not something that my grandmother would not be very happy about and I don't really think that's what I'm involved in.
Did you have problems with the special effects? Acting opposite an imaginary daemon monkey?
Nicole Kidman: I've actually never done it to this degree. I've said that at drama school, the mime class was the class that I thought, "Well, I'm not going to be showing up for that." I would wag that class a lot. I would also wag accent class. And they're the two things that I've used most in my career, accents and now mime work. I did a film, Dogville, where there was nothing and we had to pretend, and then with this, where you learn how to create an animal and you sit there for five hours stroking a fur ball. So I say to all actors out there: go to your mime classes because it's the future.
How important is that for you to be able to take your daughter to something where there is a girl at the center of it? And do you think boys will also be attracted to the story with a girl as the star?
Nicole Kidman: I hope so. I hope it appeals to both. My son is really interested in seeing the film. But it's lovely that the protagonist is a young girl. There are not many films where it is. And I also think just the way that Lyra is depicted, she's got a wonderful strength of will and she's a free spirit and she's serious. I think that's a lovely combination to have on screen for young girls to see.
If you had a daemon in real life, what animal would it be?
Nicole Kidman: Well, it changes. Yesterday, it was a kitten, because I love milk and I like to be petted and taken care of and sleep a lot (laughter). But today, it's changed, and today it's a tiger. I don't know how to answer that.
One of the most interesting moments comes when Mrs. Coulter strikes her daemon and immediately feels this anguish and remorse. What do you think that scene tells us? Where do you plan on taking Mrs. Coulter?
Nicole Kidman: I think it's sort of a complicated response because it depends how you view the daemons. I think she loves herself and hates herself at the same time and has a very complicated relationship with her own emotions at this stage. But there is so much there. It's the extraordinary arc of the woman, if I only get to play it in the third movie. It would be very disappointing if not. Put it that way.
The Golden Compass is in theaters everywhere this Friday and is rated 'PG-13' for sequences of fantasy violence.