The way women are talked about in the media is often at total odds with the way men are talked about, especially when it comes to appearances. So when photos of Nicole Kidman in her latest film, Destroyer, first dropped, all anyone could talk about was the Oscar winning actor’s appearance.
In the film, Kidman plays police detective Erin Bell, who is worn down by her job and a lingering sense of guilt even as she’s drawn back into an old case that traumatized her. For the film, Kidman plays two versions of the character: a younger and older version. In a new interview with The Guardian, Kidman addressed comments about her looks and described the legacy she wants to leave behind in Hollywood, as well as why she was drawn to the role in the first place.
“I’m always astounded at the harsh way in which women are judged, and I shouldn’t be,” Kidman said, while also noting that she wasn’t aware of the myriad critiques about her “grizzled” appearance in Destroyer. “I should know that by now, but it is what it is,” she continued.
“Maybe in 20 years time, for the next generation of women, it will be different but by god, I want to be one of those women who’s helping carve a path for the next generation, because I’m the recipient of those that have come before me to even be in this position,” Kidman said. “[Women my age] didn’t get to work 25 years ago. Women were pretty much cast out by now, and that’s abominable. But that’s in any work force, and those trends are changing, thank god, but we have to keep the conversation moving forward.”
Regarding Destroyer, Kidman remarked, “A lot of times if you are going to be a female in an action film, they want you to look gorgeous, be bad-ass, be capable of firing guns and doing high kicks and still having lipstick and being svelte and being in a whole different class of action hero.” This film, on the other hand, is “gritty and raw and totally authentic. It’s very different to give screen time – and this amount of screen time – to a woman who looks like this, who behaves like this, who is riddled with shame and anger and fury and rage, yet is also a mother and not a good mother.”
Kidman is not the first A-list Hollywood actor to reflect on how aging women are treated in the industry, nor is she the first to take on increasingly complex roles as she moves further along in her career. She told The Guardian that women who came before her carved out the space for her to be able to take roles like the one in Destroyer. Among that list, she includes Meryl Streep, who also stars opposite Kidman in the upcoming second season of HBO’s Big Little Lies.
“She’s so professional, and prepared and still excited, and curious. She still has that – to still be excited about the work, I love that,” Kidman said, describing Streep as “a wow woman.”
Given Kidman’s own impressive list of roles and the number of projects she currently has in the works (five, according to IMDb), not to mention her dedication to feminist causes like Time’s Up and to her family, we’re inclined to call her “a wow woman” as well.