×
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.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting the two companies’ talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 [...]

  • Media Company Formed Through Merger Given

    KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Takes the Name Leonine

    The KKR-backed German media company formed through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film has been given the name Leonine, it was revealed Friday. Fred Kogel, CEO of Leonine, said: “When choosing the new brand as our company name, the following aspects were decisive for us: it [...]

  • Scattered Night

    San Sebastian New Directors Jihyoung Lee and Kim Sol Talk ‘Scattered Night’

    After taking the Korean Competition Grand Prize and the best acting award (Moon Seung-a) at the Jeonju Intl. Film Festival, “Scattered Night” now heads to San Sebastian’s New Directors selection. An intimate portrayal of a family whose members are deeply isolated from one another, the film follows two parents overwhelmed by their responsibilities, their own [...]

  • Johnnie To Quits Taiwan Golden Horse

    Johnnie To Quits Golden Horse Awards as China Builds Pressure

    Leading Hong Kong film maker Johnnie To has dropped out of the Golden Horse Awards, where he was set to be president of the jury deciding the prize winners. The awards, which take place and are organized from Taiwan, have long been considered the most prestigious prized in Chinese-language cinema. However they are currently under [...]

  • Zeroville

    Film Review: 'Zeroville'

    I’m tired of hearing how some novels are “impossible to adapt.” Balderdash! Just because some books don’t lend themselves to being translated from page to screen doesn’t mean that the attempt ought not to be made. Just ask James Franco, who’s shown a speed freak’s determination to tackle some of the unlikeliest literary adaptations of [...]

  • Red Penguins review

    Toronto Film Review: 'Red Penguins'

    “Red Penguins” is a cautionary tale with particular resonance in the context of our current bizarre intertwining with Russia, the country that interfered in the last U.S. presidential election and is led by the POTUS’ apparent BFF. This wild tale of attempted transnational commerce just after the demise of the USSR in the 1990s chronicles [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content