×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Aging Rock Stars Were Inspiration for Nicole Kidman’s ‘Destroyer’ Character

In director Karyn Kusama’s “destroyer,” Nicole Kidman plays Erin Bell, a detective and tortured soul who has spent nearly 20 years punishing herself for her role in an undercover operation gone wrong.

Kidman delivers an intense, gripping performance, and a team of artisans were key in creating the highly distressed look that helped the Oscar-winning beauty convincingly inhabit a down-at-the-heels character who ages — from her mid-20s into her late 40s — in the film.

Makeup designer Bill Corso explains that he set out to make Kidman “look like a real woman who’s had a hard life. She’s a detective. She has let herself go. She smokes. She drinks.” All her bad choices had to show on her face, so Corso turned to photos of aging rock stars for inspiration.

The makeup designer gave Kidman bags under red-rimmed eyes, and he aged the skin on her face — as well as her neck and hands — and simulated sun damage. “It was quite a bit of actual makeup, painting and making her skin look a little weathered like most people in their 50s that haven’t taken care of themselves,” Corso says. “It was like doing a portrait painting every day that has to match the day before. It was very challenging.”

He also had to apply a small prosthetic piece to change the shape of Kidman’s nose so it would look as though it had been broken. Corso also had fake teeth made to cover Kidman’s movie-star teeth.

For the younger version of Bell, Corso filled out Kidman’s face with fake cheeks, added freckles to her skin and worked on her eyes and eyebrows.

Corso says the actress doesn’t like to sit in a makeup chair for too long, so she asked him to do the makeup application process as quickly as possible. “We got it down to a little over 30 minutes, and that was with Barbara and I working on her simultaneously,” says Corso, referring to hair stylist Barbara Lorenz, who did the wigs for “Destroyer” and has worked with Kidman before.

In addition to Lorenz, Corso worked closely with costume designer Audrey Fisher. “Audrey and I spoke a lot in the beginning,” he says. “When I did my first makeup test on Nicole, Audrey did her first costume test on her.”

“We had our own little triad,” Fisher says of Corso and Lorenz. “It has to be a team in order to achieve the look. I’m always incredibly proactive about that.
Bill was totally responsive and excited, and it was the same with Barbara. We really had a wonderful way of sharing information and working together.”

For the flashback scenes, in which Bell is an undercover officer trying to fit in with a bank-robbing, drug-loving gang, Fisher outfitted Kidman in grungy T-shirts and jeans she picked up at thrift stores and flea markets and from vintage dealers.

Rocketing forward 18 years to the scenes of Bell in her 40s, Fisher notes that the character’s wardrobe hasn’t changed all that much. “She just has a pile of T-shirts and a pair of jeans,” Fisher says. “She puts on whatever is on the floor when she gets up in the morning.”

That said, Fisher wanted there to be some evidence of who Bell was before she lost all hope, so the costume designer chose to clothe the character in a leather jacket.

Fisher and Kusama had discussions about the leather jacket and what it signified. “We decided it was something that she bought maybe 10 or 12 years ago. Maybe she got a promotion and she went out and bought herself a nice leather jacket. She’s worn it almost every day, so it’s well worn. But at this point, it’s no longer fashionable. It’s just a jacket she wears all the time.”

Fisher hired Los Angeles-based leather designer Jonathan A. Hogan to make the garment, providing him with a dark bottle-green leather that was distressed and looks black most of the time onscreen.

Kidman became as attached to the leather jacket as her character was. “She never wanted to take it off on set,” Fisher says. “It’s what allowed her to enter into the physicality of this character.”

More Film

  • Atlantics

    Emerging Talent From Gallic Cinema

    Variety is teaming with Unifrance, an agency that promotes French cinema around the world, to focus attention on four emerging talents in the French movie industry as part of Unifrance’s “New Faces of French Cinema” program. Here Variety profiles the rising filmmakers: Justine Triet, Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec, Hafsia Herzi and Mati Diop. Mati Diop Born to [...]

  • John Hannah Reunites With ‘The Mummy’

    John Hannah Reunites With ‘The Mummy’ Actors for Horror Pic ‘Lair’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    John Hannah, Corey Johnson and Oded Fehr will star in “Lair,” billed as a socially conscious horror movie about an LGBT family embroiled in one man’s attempt to prove the existence of the supernatural. The trio all appeared in the successful franchise “The Mummy,” and their new picture goes into production later this year. Katarina [...]

  • Loving Vincent Animation Oscars

    Adult Audience Animation: Cannes Panel Talks Big-Screen Strategy

    CANNES–A panel of leading animation industry executives gathered during the Cannes Film Market on Sunday to shed light on their strategies for the theatrical release of adult-oriented animated features. It was a timely conversation at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Five of the 28 animated projects in the Marché du Film are adult audience-focused, including [...]

  • Lea Drucker poses with the Best

    French Filmmaker Axelle Ropert Readies 'Petite Solange' With MK2 Films (EXCLUSIVE)

    French writer/director Axelle Ropert is set to direct “Petite Solange,” a film that will star Léa Drucker and Philippe Katerine, who won the best acting nods at this year’s Cesar Awards for their performances in “Custody” and “Sink or Swim,” respectively. MK2 films will handle international sales. Haut et Court has acquired rights for French [...]

  • Dutch FilmWorks Moves into International Sales

    Dutch Film Works Moves into International Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    A major new international sales outfit is coming to market. Dutch Film Works (DFW), one of the largest movie distributors in the Benelux region, is moving into film and TV sales. DFW general manager Angela Pruijssers will spearhead the sales effort alongside Charlotte Henskens, who will join from Amsterdam-based Fortissimo Films, where she is director [...]

  • Gullane Taps The Match Factory, Bitters

    Gullane Taps Match Factory, Bitters End for Karim Ainouz’s ‘Neon River’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Gullane, the Brazilian producer of Marco Bellocchio’s Cannes competition player “The Traitor,” has linked with production partners for anticipated projects by two of Brazil’s highest-profile auteurs: Karim Ainouz and Fernando Coimbra. In further news, Luiz Bolognesi, writer-director of Annecy winner “Rio 2096,” is leading “Senna,” Gullane’s biggest movie project to date, a live-action biopic of [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Feature Documentary ‘Untouchable’ Bought by Hulu (EXCLUSIVE)

    Hulu has snagged the U.S. rights to “Untouchable,” the feature doc about disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein, in a seven-figure deal, Variety has learned. The film, directed by Ursula Macfarlane, had its premiere at Sundance. It offers the inside track on the rise of Weinstein and his subsequent fall, amid allegations in the U.S. and Europe [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content