Nicole Kidman, 53, knows exactly what she wants from her TV or film characters. “Give us roles that show us warts and all, an authentic female with all of the flaws, virtues, ideas and complexities, where you don't have to be under 40 to be the lead.”
Like the best of her roles — which earned five Golden Globes, two Emmys and an Oscar — Kidman's latest, Manhattan therapist Grace Fraser, is a woman who isn't “shrouded in a golden light,” she says. Working again with her Big Little Lies writer/producer David E. Kelley (The Practice, Ally McBeal) on the new six-part series The Undoing (HBO, Oct. 25, 9 p.m. ET), Kidman plays another upscale character whose world is shockingly rocked by a violent death, in this case the mother of her son's classmate at his $50,000-a-year private school. And on top of that, Grace is plagued by ambiguous doubts about her marriage to a prominent, famously kindly pediatric oncologist (Hugh Grant, 60).
"You're constantly second-guessing everybody and their behavior and what they're saying,” says Kidman. “It's meant to be that classic Hitchcockian thriller where you're not sure what the motives actually are.”
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Kidman and Grant, together at last
This element of uncertainty about the characters’ intentions and motivations is what drew Kidman's costar Grant to his first American TV project. “I love the idea of people being lots of different things and sometimes extremely conflicting things,” explains Grant. “We have a tendency to oversimplify things especially in entertainment, he's ‘a goodie’ or ‘a baddie,'” he says. “My experience in life is [that] I've known people who are capable of both extremes simultaneously; they are both real, it's not like one's a mask, they are both real.” Kidman agrees: “I don't know if any human being's purely innocent or purely guilty anyway in terms of human nature.”