×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Nicole Kidman, Amy Adams on Their HBO Series and DC Franchises

Nicole Kidman and Amy Adams sat down for Variety’s Actors on Actors. For more, click here

Few stars are more willing to take risks than Amy Adams. Her turn as Second Lady Lynne Cheney in “Vice” is only the latest in a series of on-screen transformations, following her startling work in the HBO limited series “Sharp Objects.” Adams’ roles — from a heartbroken linguist in “Arrival” to a social climber in “American Hustle” to Lois Lane in the DC Universe — share little but Adams’ fierce tenacity and perpetual intelligence.   

Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman’s characters seem at times to share nothing at all. Her 2018 has been as much of a tightrope walk as Adams’, with two juicy but divergent roles — as an achingly conflicted mother of a gay son in “Boy Erased” and as a hardened cop in “Destroyer.” On top of it all, she plays an undersea monarch in “Aquaman,” a role whose special-effects surroundings promise not to diminish Kidman’s star power.

Nicole Kidman First of all, we have to acknowledge that we’ve both worked with Jean-Marc Vallée on limited series.

Amy Adams You had him first. When I started working with him, you guys were releasing “Big Little Lies,” and I read about the intensity of the work. What was that like for you?

Kidman It was incredibly intense, but it was also very freeing. It was almost slice-of-life, where he’s in there with the camera, because he operates the camera sometimes. I was really exposed, but that was good. What about you?

Adams It was challenging, because it does create this voyeuristic energy. I had so much to do that the way he shot became an endurance challenge.

Kidman You’re amazing in it. And I want to play sisters, so I’m putting that out there for anybody.

Adams I always said that I wanted to be like Nicole Kidman, but I understood that I was like corduroy to her silk.

Kidman No!

Adams It’s so true. I’m so corduroy and I hate it, but it’s true. You have to know yourself.

Kidman Well, I’m not silk. It’s like to be a little bit of lace, a little bit of leather. Can I be that?

Adams Yeah, you can be that.

Kidman And maybe pleather. I just saw “Vice,” and once again, [I’m] gobsmacked at your talent, because you become [Lynne Cheney]. You’re her.

Adams She reminded me of my grandmother very much. I grew up knowing women like Lynne who were self-starters, uncompromising and direct and not afraid to speak the truth. It was strangely empowering, because I would go on set and have these debates with Adam [McKay] as Lynne Cheney, so we would talk about the political events of the day and I would imagine Lynne’s point of view. Adam requires a lot of improv.

Kidman The scene where you and Christian [Bale] speak Shakespearean, that was obviously written.

Adams I had a contest with Christian to see who could memorize it first, and he won, of course. I have a feeble brain. He won, and that was with him working every day at two o’clock in the morning getting makeup on. I was not happy about it.

Kidman I have a tough time learning lines. There’s different directors, and sometimes there’s improvising; sometimes you can move around the line and fill in, and other times it literally is to the rhythm, to every piece of punctuation. You take a breath when they want you to take a breath. Have you run that scope of directors?

Adams Oh, absolutely. David O. Russell will throw lines to you in the middle of a scene, and you’re just saying them while in these intense situations.

Kidman But I love that. People say, “What’s your process?” Well, it changes every film.

Adams I agree, and I think that it’s so important to have that adaptability, because you never know the actor you’re going be working with, the director, what the day calls for. I always find that if I go into a scene with an idea of how this scene’s going to go, it never goes that way. And that’s when you get lost, when you’re trying to steer the scene. I used to try to steer scenes and I would get really panicky. There was this scene in “The Master” where I was supposed to wake [Joaquin Phoenix] up and he wasn’t waking up. I freaked out. I’d pour water on his head now; I’d be like, “You want to play that game, Joaquin, here you go.” I didn’t roll with it, and I learned a lesson from that.

Kidman My one thing I struggle with is to get through my shyness. Because if I’m willing to speak up and not be obedient all the time, then I’m free and I do much better work. But if I haven’t worked for a long time, I’m a little bit rigid and scared. Strangely enough, because “Destroyer” required so much fatigue and so much kind of just [being] beaten down, that kind of worked for it. I try to never fight whatever I’m given. I learned that early on from people like Jane Campion and even [Stanley] Kubrick. He’d lose a location and shrug, and create something better, actually.

Adams Amazing.

Kidman Do you ever feel that you’re in that place where it’s not clicking in?

Adams I think that happens to me when I’m trying to please somebody. When I’m trying to please the director, I’m not thinking about the character anymore. You do a take and they call “Cut,” and I would immediately look for them to tell me if it was OK. And I had to train myself out of that.

Kidman Do you watch the monitor?

Adams I don’t.

Kidman Neither do I.

Adams I’ll start self-directing.

Kidman We’re kindred spirits.

Adams Do you still try to please, though?

Kidman I have a pleaser personality, so there’ll be times when I’m being really well behaved and really good. That can sometimes not work for me because I have other ideas. Now what I’ve trained myself to do is just do it. I never ask; I just do it. Because then it’s being true to the character and who I am. And I love obsessive directors. I love the passion, so anyone that people think is difficult, I usually do not think is difficult.

Adams I’m OK with difficult, as long as they’re nice. I don’t like yelling.

Kidman No. But I’ve never really worked with yellers. I have a huge understanding of the artistic process, and I like the idea of the set being sacred. So there’s a sacredness to what goes on there, and obviously if someone’s feeling exploited or violated, everything has to be talked about so it’s safe. But I also believe there is a sacredness to the artistic bubble.

Adams You’ve committed to working with female directors once every 18 months, right?

Kidman I did. I made a pledge at the Cannes Film Festival to work with a female director every 18 months because I actually saw the statistics and they were unbelievably dire. One night, strangely enough, after the Oscars, and instead of going to the parties, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and a bunch of us went and just had a bite to eat. Out of it came the conversation of how do we support women, and how do we build more female directors, female crews in this industry. What do we do? And that’s where I went, “OK, I’m going to make this pledge publicly,” and I’ve exceeded it, actually.

Watch the full interview below:

More Film

  • Steve James Chicago Story

    Participant Media Partners With Filmmaker Steve James on Documentary 'Chicago Story' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant Media is reteaming with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James and his longtime production home, Kartemquin Films, on his latest documentary, “Chicago Story.” Participant Media will finance the project, which will be produced by James and Zak Piper. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann will executive produce with Alex Kotlowitz and Gordon Quinn. James, Piper, and [...]

  • 'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because

    'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because 'A Lot of Things Didn't Work'

    It appears that MGM’s film adaptation of “Metro 2033” is no longer happening because “a lot of things didn’t work,” according to VG24/7. “Metro 2033” is a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was also adapted into a series of successful survival horror shooters from video game publisher THQ and developer 4A Games in [...]

  • Jirga

    Film Review: 'Jirga'

    Buried within the closing crawl of writer, director, cinematographer and co-producer Benjamin Gilmour’s unfortunately cryptic but nonetheless fascinating debut film “Jirga” are shout-outs for security, political and cultural liaisons, as well as an Afghan film advisor. These credits speak, however quietly, to the no-doubt-delicate and clearly arduous making of a film that finds a guilt-ridden [...]

  • Fox Names Benjamin Bach Theatrical MD

    Fox Names Benjamin Bach MD for Germany, Replacing Vincent  De La Tour

    Twentieth Century Fox has upped Benjamin Bach to managing director, theatrical, for Austria and Germany. In Germany he takes over from the long-serving Vincent de la Tour who is leaving after 27 years. Bach has been MD of Fox’s operations in Austria since 2012 and he steps into his new, expanded, role immediately. He will [...]

  • Lois Smith

    Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch' Adds Lois Smith (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lois Smith has joined the cast of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Variety has learned. It continues a late-career resurgence for the 88-year-old stage and screen actress. Smith was nominated for a Gotham and Independent Spirit Award for her work in last year’s “Marjorie Prime,” a role that garnered her some of the best reviews [...]

  • Stephan James as Fonny and Brian

    Brian Tyree Henry Breaks Out Big in Jenkins' 'If Beale Street Could Talk'

    The final days of filming writer-director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” were dedicated to moments that foreshadowed its entire plot: Having run into the recently incarcerated Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) on the streets of Harlem, the struggling artist Fonny (Stephan James) invites his friend back to his apartment for [...]

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content