HAILED as “pure theatrical Viagra” by one critic, Nicole Kidman has been in her fair share of famous Hollywood sex scenes.
She “didn’t say no” to anything during movie Eyes Wide Shut and felt “humiliated” and “ashamed” after filming the graphic sex scenes on TV mini-series Big Little Lies.
But the Oscar-winning actress was in awe of the young newcomers who sizzled between the sheets as on-off lovers in BBC hit Normal People.
As feisty misfit Marianne and school sports star Connell, actors Daisy Edgar Jones and Paul Mescal made the sultry 12-parter BBC Three’s most popular show ever. And Nicole was among those impressed.
The A-lister, 53, said: “There’s a lot of sexuality in Normal People but both actors felt very safe and they were able to still do those really intimate things. It was exquisite work.
“I hope the generations to come look back and go, ‘Wow’.”
Nicole is starring in one of TV’s most talked-about dramas, Sky Atlantic’s gripping series The Undoing, which concludes tomorrow. She is also executive producer and even sings the title track Dream A Little Dream Of Me.
‘I WANT FULL-FRONTAL’
She plays Grace, a wealthy New York therapist whose life is shattered when she discovers her seemingly perfect husband Jonathan (Hugh Grant) is accused of murdering Elena (Matilda De Angelis) — who also turns out to be his mistress.
Nicole again features in passionate scenes, including sharing a lesbian kiss with the victim.
She was determined that she and Hugh sizzled on screen. Nicole said: “I hope Hugh and I make a sexy couple. For it to work, you have to want these people to be together. I hope people want us to be together. I hope that is the desire on screen.”
That is nothing for the dedicated actress, whose performance in her West End debut The Blue Room led to the Viagra comparison.
In 1999 she appeared naked in erotic movie Eyes Wide Shut alongside her then husband Tom Cruise.
Nicole negotiated with its legendary director Stanley Kubrick to ensure she was comfortable baring all.
She said: “He was like, ‘I’m going to want full-frontal nudity’, and I was like, ‘Aah I don’t know’. So we came up with a great agreement, which was contractual. He would show me the scenes with the nudity before they made it into the film.
“Then I could feel completely safe. I didn’t say no to any of it. I’d wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to be me standing there nude and everyone laughing at me. I was protected.” Since then Nicole has stripped dozens more times for work, including filming the disturbing sex scenes in 2017 drama Big Little Lies.
That saw the Aussie actress playing Celeste, who appeared to be turned on by shockingly violent episodes with her abusive husband.
In one interview Nicole explained: “When I would go home, I would feel ashamed. And that’s the same emotions Celeste was having. But I was willing to do that because that’s what was important for the role.
“I felt very exposed and vulnerable and deeply humiliated at times.
I was just lying there, sort of broken and crying in half-torn underwear
“I remember lying on the floor in the bathroom when we were doing the scenes in episode seven, and I wouldn’t get up between takes. I was just lying there, sort of broken and crying in half-torn underwear.”
As co-producer, she had a say about the gruelling scenes but she has always been determined to perform at her best. The flame-haired star, who has won a Bafta, two Emmys and five Golden Globes, set up her own production company in 2010 because she was keen to give the audience more.
She said: “I knew there were great stories out there for women but they weren’t being funded. Everyone kept saying, ‘There’s no interest, they are going to flop’ or ‘The only thing you can do is romantic comedies’, or ‘You can go into theatre’. ”
Nicole defied the critics — just as she has seemingly defied time with her youthful looks.
She is as fresh-faced and slender as when she first found fame in 1989 thriller Dead Calm — which also featured nude scenes — and the mini-series Bangkok Hilton.
Nicole, who has daughters Sunday, 12, and Faith, nine, with her country music star husband Keith Urban, works hard at keeping in shape by running long distances. She said: “I run outside, listening to music. If you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing. And how do you get that when you have two little kids, a husband and a lot of work?
“I work for balance now. I do yoga, and run and meditate. I take really good care of myself and eat well.
“I come from a marathon-running family so that’s been part of my life since I was a little girl.”
But when Nicole goes on tour with Keith, 53, she admits to sometimes tucking into junk food. She said: “I’m just not someone who believes in denial. It’s walking a path that’s ultimately 80 per cent healthy . . . you find out what works for you. I do a lot and I have a lot of energy.”
She and Keith married in 2006 and it is clear Nicole is still blissfully happy.
She says he brings her “back to reality” after difficult days on set and helped her cope with the loneliness of lockdown.
Nicole — also mum to Isabella, 27, and Connor, 25, having adopted them with her ex Tom Cruise — spent the time learning Italian, reading and listening to music.
Now she is working in Australia on TV mini-series Nine Perfect Strangers, a drama about a group of stressed-out city workers who go to a luxury retreat run by Nicole’s character.
Nicole and Keith try to juggle their careers so they are rarely apart, but while she is Down Under he is in Nashville releasing his new album.
It is obvious she loves spending every minute she can with him.
She said: “I have a very good relationship. It’s a soothing, comforting place for me, and he’s a strong, warm, kind man. I am very fortunate to have that in my life, because it’s a really strong place to be able to go and curl up. That’s an extraordinary thing to have found, particularly later in my life . . . but it saved me.
“They say loneliness is the great killer. It causes so much pain and I’ve been lonely, and it’s very, very, very hard. You see it in older people. You see it in young people. We can’t even hug any more. Loneliness is an epidemic. So I’m very fortunate to come home to him.
“My heart goes out to people who don’t have a person to go home to. This year it’s become so apparent.”
Despite succeeding in all she does, Nicole still remains driven.
She says: “My desire is to keep throwing myself into things — my parenting, my relationship, my work.
“I’ll take the pain. I’ll take the joy. Because the feeling makes me go, ‘I’m in life’.”
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