×
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

  • Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s ‘The Kindness

    Alamode Acquires Lone Scherfig’s Berlin Opener ‘The Kindness of Strangers’

    Munich-based Alamode has taken German and Austrian rights to Lone Scherfig’s “The Kindness of Strangers,” ahead of the picture’s opening-night gala screening at the Berlin Film Festival next month. Alamode acquired the rights from London-based HanWay Films, which is handling worldwide sales. Entertainment One is distributing the film in Canada and SF Studios in Scandinavia. [...]

  • Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller

    Voltage Pictures to Produce Airborne Thriller 'Blackwing' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Voltage Pictures will produce and fully finance screenwriter David Loughery’s latest thriller “Blackwing,” Variety has learned exclusively. The company will introduce “Blackwing” to buyers at the upcoming European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which opens Feb. 7. Nicolas Chartier and Dominic Rustam are producing, and Jonathan Deckter is executive producing for Voltage Pictures. [...]

  • ‘Metro Exodus’ Opens Up Post-Apocalyptic Russia

    ‘Metro Exodus’ Author On Film, Possible TV Series, Expansive New Game

    Since the launch of the post-apocalyptic survival first-person shooter “Metro 2033” in 2010, the series has kept its action confined to the tunnels running underneath Russia. “Metro Exodus,” due out next month, takes the gameplay to the surface for the first time, going above ground with sprawling levels against a changing backdrop of weather conditions [...]

  • Berlin Film 'The Ground Beneath My

    Berlin Competition Film 'The Ground Beneath My Feet' Sold to Germany's Salzgeber (EXCLUSIVE)

    Salzgeber has acquired the German rights for Berlin Film Festival competition title “The Ground Beneath My Feet” from sales agent Picture Tree International. Variety has been given exclusive access to the film’s trailer. Salzgeber will release the film, directed by Marie Kreutzer, mid-May. Picture Tree describes the movie as a “contemporary female-led drama touching on [...]

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series on Tuesday, held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis Mitchell, [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content