Nicole Kidman doesn't do things by half-measures. According to a new Variety interview, the actress was so precise in her imitation of the Virginia Woolf's accent while filming The Hours that the director, Stephen Daldry, asked her to tone it down, lest it distract viewers with its plummy accuracy. She also memorably altered her appearance with a prosthetic that would go down in history as "the nose from The Hours," an Oscar good luck charm (Kidman took home the award for Best Actress in 2003) that has since been used as a barometer to gage actress' commitments to their parts. (It was most recently spotted on Margot Robbie, another Oscar hopeful in Mary, Queen of Scots.)
That goal-oriented attitude also applies to roles behind the camera. Kidman told Variety that she's made a private pact with herself to work with at least one woman director every 18 months — and in classic overachiever fashion, she's exceeded her goal. Her recent projects include The Beguiled, directed by Sofia Coppola; season 2 of Jane Campion's Top of the Lake; Jennifer's Body director Karyn Kusama's upcoming noir L.A. thriller, Destroyer; the much-hyped season 2 of Big Little Lies, directed by Andrea Arnold (who also helmed American Honey); and a future collaboration with Susanne Bier on HBO.
“So there’s five in two and a half years,” Kidman said. It's impressive, especially in an industry that so often makes excuses for not hiring women, claiming they're harder to find than Newt Scamander's fantastic beasts. (They're not.) But still, she's not satisfied. “I’ve only worked with two DPs,” she added. “That’s not good enough.”
A recent study conducted by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that only 43 of 1,223 film directors between 2007 and 2017 were women. But that systemic gender inequality doesn't stop at the director's chair. It's everywhere, from cinematographers (in 2018, Rachel Morrison became the first female cinematographer ever to be nominated for an Oscar — ever) , to composers, all the way down to the critics who review the films. Exclusion is a vicious cycle, and one that everyone, at every level, has to work to counter.
“I think it’s still going to be a long road,” Kidman said. “Things don’t change overnight. We all know that, and it’s important to keep reiterating that, because what happens is people go, ‘Oh, well. That’s done.’ This is serious stuff that needs to be dealt with for years and years to actually really shift it.”
The actress is under no illusions that she alone can make a difference, but her actions are a good model to follow for anyone else who might want to take a stab at the patriarchy. There's still plenty to go around, after all.