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Nicole Kidman Channels Her Scariest Days as a Mom in HBO’s The Undoing

Nicole Kidman is no stranger to traveling to the depths of human emotion for an acting role. Her role as Celeste in Big Little Lies stunned viewers with its raw emotion, and Kidman has been vocal about the effort and toll behind going to those dark places. If BLL was an exercise in exploring a different kind of pain, then Kidman’s new HBO show The Undoing may have been the actress’ exercise in exploring her own — though, on the surface, Kidman’s life couldn’t be more different from Upper East Side therapist Grace Fraser’s, whose world is thrown into disarray by the murder of a parent at her son’s school. While Kidman’s current crisis may look more like trying to be a working mom through a global pandemic, she tells SheKnows that the details don’t matter — that instinctive drive to protect your kid is there either way. Also there? The underlying knowledge that it’s impossible to shield your kids from as much as you’d like.

Kidman reflected on her connection to Grace as a mother on The Undoing at a roundtable interview with SheKnows, admitting that she feels a horror at the idea of her kids ever suffering because of their parents’ mistakes — an idea she thinks drives a lot of Grace’s actions.

“The idea of that happening is devastating, that because of your mistakes [your kids] suffer, that’s just devastating I think,” she shared. “I think that’s [Grace’s] primary desire is to protect her son. I think a lot of the things she chooses to do is to protect his life so that the ramifications on his life will be as minimal as possible.”

Kidman can relate to that desire to make it right for your child as mom to four kids, sharing Isabella and Connor with ex Tom Cruise and daughters Sunday and Faith with husband Keith Urban. When the actress reflects on past mistakes, it’s easy to assume she may be talking about her marriage with Cruise and time spent in the Church of Scientology — but since Kidman herself has rarely addressed it, the public remains unclear on exactly how hostile that break from the Church might have been, and whether she may have tried to get her kids to leave the Church of Scientology with her.

But there’s another side to the way Kidman relates to Grace as a mom. It’s not just to desire to shield your kids, but the constant sensation that you’re failing that Kidman finds, for better or for worse, familiar to her own life. Whether you realize it or not, Kidman warns, the kids see everything.

“Kids know, they sense things,” she tells SheKnows. “As much as you try to shield them, they usually know far more than you think. I definitely find that in my own life.”

If any other parents trying to give their kids age-appropriate information about COVID-19 relate to this, we won’t be surprised. And it seems Kidman came perfectly armed to this role with her own experience bringing up four kids in a world that often hurls more information at them than she’d like.

Whether it’s protecting your child from an unfurling murder investigation or parenting through a pandemic, Kidman has her priorities in order: protect the kids, but don’t underestimate them. “They’re very resilient,” she says. “Sometimes far more resilient than adults.”

The Undoing starts streaming on HBO Max on October 25.

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