Nicole Kidman: ‘I look at those films that Polanski made, and they’re amazing’

2017 CBS Upfront - Arrivals

Nicole Kidman covers the October issue of Marie Claire to promote all of her projects coming out in the next few months, but especially the film Boy Erased. Boy Erased is the true story, based on Garrard Conley’s memoir, of being a Baptist preacher’s son who is forced into gay-conversion therapy. Nicole plays the mom, and Russell Crowe plays the Baptist preacher dad. The film is directed by another Australian, Joel Edgerton. God knows, it could be another Oscar-bait project for Nicole, depending on how critics receive the film. Anyway, in Marie Claire, Nicole talks about how she has a “strong sexuality” and yet she was raised by “stoics.” You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

What kind of artist she is: “Well, I always say I’m a pretty even mix, but I’m probably dominated by that,” she says, with one hand over her heart. “If you don’t come from a feeling place, you just end up with an enormous amount of technique. I have this,” she says, tapping her head again, “but that can be overruled. It fluctuates too. I have a strong sexuality. It’s a huge part of who I am and my existence.”

How she thinks of her life: “I have a very sort of quiet life, I suppose. I try to live a soulful, artistic life.. [I’m] trying to raise my daughters in a really conscious, present way. Time becomes so precious as you get older… I mean, I feel probably more now than I ever have. I’m incredibly sensitive to the world and to the way in which we’re all navigating together as people. Artistically, I can make statements.”

She still experiences fear: “Crippling fear at times. But at the same time, I was raised by stoics… It’s a philosophy, a way of behaving and being in the world, which I kind of don’t have. I have a little bit of it, but I have far more of, like, ‘Oh, my God, how am I going to get through this? I can’t get through this! I can’t get up!’ And then I think, ‘Get up!’ I think once you have children, your resilience is built, and your ability to go, ‘OK, I can’t wallow…and I certainly can’t get into bed for a week and never get out.’”

Her adult children Isabella & Connor: “They’re adults now, married and off in their own lives. They’re totally grown-up people.”

How she feels about watching films made by predators: “I look at those films that Polanski made, and they’re amazing. I’m sort of navigating through it myself with my own moral compass. What do you do? Do you ban it? Or see it as art? Or judge it in this time looking back at that time? I have no answer.” But she does have questions. One of her favorites: “‘What do you mean?’ And ‘I don’t understand.’ And ‘Teach me.’ Those are really important things to constantly be saying. I’m willing to learn. Since I was a kid, I’ve loved learning, growing, broadening, understanding, being challenged, being dissected. And I’ve had some of the greatest teachers in the world.”

[From Marie Claire]

Weirdly, I guess I’m not going to judge her for saying Polanski’s films are “amazing.” I feel like what Nicole is doing is subtly but substantially different than what Cate Blanchett and others have done. Blanchett and other people tried to create a convoluted rationale of “you can watch a predator’s movies just as long as they’ve never been convicted of anything in a court of law,” which… we’ve discussed many times as being problematic. I think Kidman truly doesn’t know what the right answer is, and neither do I. I think Polanski is a monster who has abused and assaulted multiple girls and women over the course of decades. But I also think Chinatown holds up as a film classic. What is the answer?

As for Nicole saying “I have a strong sexuality” – does she though? Maybe she does in her private life, but I’ve never really thought she works as a romantic lead because she comes across as rather icy and asexual on-screen.

Cover & photo courtesy of Marie Claire.

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68 Responses to “Nicole Kidman: ‘I look at those films that Polanski made, and they’re amazing’”

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  1. jbapista says:

    I think her comments about Polanski are nuanced, and make sense. He’s made at least three outright masterpieces – Knife in the Water, Repulsion, and Chinatown (which IMHO is a candidate for the best Hollywood film ever made) – and a few other excellent films, like the Pianist. I see no contradiction in despising him while admiring and watching those films.

    • Jerusha says:

      Chinatown is one of those films, like Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, that is perfect. Everything, script, direction, cinematography, and sublime cast, came together to make a film that cannot be bettered. I just rewatched it last week and it was as good as all the other times I’ve watched it.

      • Lala11_7 says:

        And don’t forget the producer…MY GAWD…Robert Evans would have a FIT if he read your comment and didn’t see you giving HIM ALL the kudos regarding that magnificent film…Because…EVERYTHANG you said about “Chinatown” is true…and Bob…is the the BASE for why that truism exists….in fact, if you love Chinatown…and you seem like you do…as do I (JAYSUS…THE COLOR PALETTE…WHOA)…you should see Evan’s prolific documentary…”The Kid Stays In The Picture”…he gives you a FASCINATING breakdown regarding Hollywood and is a magnificent conduit between “old” Hollywood and “new” Hollywood….

      • Jerusha says:

        Lala. You’re right and my bad! Evans was also the uncredited executive producer on Godfather and Godfather II, two more perfect films.

    • LahdidahBaby says:

      Yes, Jbapista, I agree. Picasso was an asshole, but I love his work. I will never pretend that this issue doesn’t make me feel conflicted.

    • jessamine says:

      This is how I want people to be able to discuss Polanski films– that genius and monstrous behavior are not mutually exclusive and that neither cancels out the other IN EITHER DIRECTION. Even minor Polanksi works like The Ghost Writer achieve a level of excellence. Also, he should be in jail.

      • ichsi says:

        You take the words out of my mouth. Especially what you said about The Ghost. It’s a very run-of-the-mill crime thriller story-wise that could have been boring quite easily, but Polanski tells the story in a wholly engaging way and makes it interesting and suspenseful. He’s still a monster who shouldn’t be allowed to make more movies and get more awards.

      • Dara says:

        Sorry, but I thought Ghost Writer was a mess. The plot and the cast had me intrigued, and I went in with high hopes (I didn’t realize it was a Polanski film until the credits rolled), but I was entirely disappointed. Honestly, the best part was the reveal at the very end so I’m glad I stuck with it, but the rest of the film was entirely forgettable.

      • Betsy says:

        @Dara – same! I put it on because I like thrillers but not gore and that was rated PG-13? I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t amazing (although the end was pretty surprising. Or maybe I just doing pay enough attention to catch clues and it was obvious).

      • Avotoast says:

        I loved the 13th Gate or whatever it was called, with Johnny Depp, back when he was still coherent. Chinatown was good but I still don’t get why it’s labelled the best film of all time. Nicole’s take is better than Cate’s.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      To me, the problem with movies made by a child rapist is that movies CONTINUE to provide income to the filmmakers long after they are released. Polanksi continues to earn money for his movies every time they are shown. And there is no way to “disassociate” the director with his crime when he USED HIS POSITION IN HOLLYWOOD to commit the crime in the first place.

      • Mac says:

        I am in the same place. I just cannot enjoy a movie made by a rapist because it can’t get it out of my head while I am watching the movie. Whatever memory I have of Chinatown has been completely overwritten by my knowledge of Polanski’s behavior.

  2. Caitlin Bruce says:

    The only film I found her sexual in is moulin rouge, which I think is the best she’s ever looked too (I’ve not seen any of her earlier work so can’t comment on those films) A lot of the time I watch a film of hers and I get distracted by her large botoxed forehead. But sometimes with the right haircut I can watch her and just enjoy her performance.

  3. Darla says:

    I never viewed Nicole as asexual.

  4. Jessica says:

    I understand what she’s trying to say, I think. I have been a lifelong fan of some of his early films, especially Repulsion, which introduced me to Catherine Deneuve (he apparently wanted her for the film after seeing her in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, another favorite classic film of mine). I can’t support him financially due to his predatory actions, which he doesn’t seem to regret or feel badly about. I think he sees himself as the real victim in his case, and a documentary that came out several years ago with his support (Marina Zenovich’s Roman Polanski: Wanted & Desired) really seems to bear that out. It’s an extremely warped view. Other women have come forward in the #MeToo era to accuse him, so I believe he is likely a serial predator of very young women/children. Polanski really should be canceled, like Woody Allen, but I don’t think that will happen, especially in the French film industry. He currently has a film in development/production called J’Accuse (it’s about the Dreyfuss affair and he’s been trying to make it for years, but the title is…an interesting choice…to say the least). I will not be seeing it. I have a lot of sympathy for the many hardships life has inflicted on him, from the Holocaust to the Manson murders, but none of that can justify his own terrible victimization of others. His talent and cinematic legacy is undeniable IMO, but no man’s talent will ever be more important to me than supporting women (and men, and children) who are victimized by predators. Enough is enough. Time should have been up a long time ago.

    • Mira Belle says:

      “no man’s talent will ever be more important to me than supporting women (and men, and children) who are victimized by predators.”
      One of the most well-stated comments on the topic 👏👏👏

  5. SM says:

    I have to give it to her, she did manage to raise the issue of whether art can be separated from the artist, which still is a question we do nlt have the answer to. Especially the further we go back in time the more problematic things we will see, which woild mean what? Eliminating a lot of science, art, philosophy because of the problematic behavior and views of the creators. Having said that, I think we need to act as if now we are in a new, more progressed era where people are held up to the higher standard of conduct.
    As for her sexuality comment. I don’t understand what does she mean? I mean looking at the men she married, they do not exactly strike me as men very much interested and driven by sexuality, as in exerimenting and discovering what a woman’s sexuality. So not sure where and how she fids her outlet for her STRONG sexuality. Maybe I am missinterpreting something.

    • Darla says:

      Appearances are very deceiving. I’ve always viewed overly PDA prone couples with suspicion. If I had to guess? Nicole has way hotter sex with her husband (and prob with her ex husband too) than brange ever did. When you’re doing it hot, it’s a sexy secret you share.

      • Caitlin Bruce says:

        Have you ever seen Nicola and Keith on the red carpet? They are over compensationing for something for sure.

      • minx says:

        You actually think she and Tom Cruise had hotter sex than Pitt and Jolie? In Eyes Wide Shut they were embarrassing to watch, they were so awkward with each other. Compare that to Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

      • Darla says:

        Minx, I do yes. I think there has been a lot of nonsense spread around about Cruise being gay or asexual, but he isn’t. I think that was very real and they were madly in love.

      • minx says:

        I didn’t say he was gay or asexual, but they looked like two people who barely knew each other. No heat at all.

      • Caitlin Bruce says:

        @minx that happens a lot of movies though. Real couples sometimes have terrible chemistry. I don’t think it neccessarirly means they lack heat in real life. Some of the best chemistry on a teen drama was Katie Holmes and Joshua Jackson who dated then broke up when their characters started falling for each other. I think it’s just one of those things two people either have it or don’t. Like Katie had no chemistry with James Van Der Beek. Seem people have chemistry with everyone but some just have it with certain people.

      • someone says:

        @minx, you should read how badly Stanley Kubrick treated cruise and Kidman, before and while shooting the movie. I think he magnified everything that was not perfect about their relationship and I wonder how that impacted their acting?

    • Linda says:

      @ Minx
      Don’t also forget that Nicole had an affair with the very yummy Lenny Kravitz.

  6. Mara says:

    She’s right, there’s no right answer. Stephen Fry did a really good documentary a few years a go asking whether he should allow himself to enjoy Wagner or not due to Wagners rampant anti-semitism that also struggles with how to separate art from the artist.

    • Lara K says:

      To me, there are 3 possible factors in separating the art from the artist (or product from maker, since this is also valid for science, politics, etc)

      1. Death. If the artist is dead, I’m more willing to separate the art from the artist.

      2. Time. As you go back in history, people had a standard of behavior true at the time. I’m more willing to forgive if it’s plausible that the person didn’t know any better.

      3. Direct benefit – does the person benefit directly from their offence (including fame for dead people). For example, that butcher doctor who is dubbed father of gynaecology – he butchered hundreds of black women. There is no forgiveness for that. He should be known as a butcher, not a doctor. On the other hand, Ben Franklin was a Kavanaugh equivalent back in his day. But that’s not what he’s known for. So I’m more willing to read his work and separate it from the man himself.

      There is no right answer. But I do think that anyone working with Polanski today is 100% wrong. Same with that perv Woody. There is no gray area. Same with Trump voters, for what that’s worth.

      • Mara says:

        Good points. What about subsequent actions?
        One of the things that annoys me about Polanski is that this happened decades ago, if he had just taken responsibility at the time, gone to prison and taken redemptive action in the years since then it would be easier for us and, more importantly, his victim to have some closure.

      • Lara K says:

        @Mara that’s a good point. But I’m also weary of any kind of “redemption” story. I mean, it’s admirable to take responsibility and change for the better, but it would only be believable if he paid for his crimes, and then went to work in the community somewhere. Otherwise it would feel insincere.

        And we get so many redemption stories shoved down our throats. It makes a comeback disingenuous. The only road to redemption is to apologize, do your time, then disappear into anonymity.

      • Mara says:

        I can’t answer whether redemption of raping a child is possible. Thinking about it, that seems like a life in prison sentence. But I have to believe it is possible to get true redemption because otherwise what is the motivation for criminals to become better people if they know that however hard they work on themselves the world will always condemn them (we can’t keep them all inside prison forever, that is just impractical). Obviously it should be proportionate to the crime and maybe some criminals will never live long enough to achieve it fully.
        As for what redemptive action should look like – I have no idea. If I did I’d be making a lot more money as a judge.

      • Jan90067 says:

        Lara K, thing is, w/Polanski AND Allen, sex with children has ALWAYS been “wrong”, and certainly w/Polanski, DRUGGING a child to have sex, again, ALWAYS wrong (and horrific!). So, yeah, can’t give them a pass.

        Speaking for myself only, of course, once I knew of those specific behaviors, there is no way I can separate “the artiste” from whatever their work product is.

  7. Lightpurple says:

    I’ll be seeing Boy Erased for the great Lucas Hedges. That Nicole is in it too is an added bonus. Her recent work has been fantastic and Lucas is a wonderful young actor who makes interesting choices.

  8. Boxy Lady says:

    Let’s not forget that Lenny Kravitz wanted to marry her. He doesn’t strike me as the type to choose an asexual ice princess for a wife.

  9. Sophie says:

    A lot of films, especially the 60s & 70s era were made by very problematic directors & asshole actors. Yet the films, still are some great movies to watch. So it is something to ask, ‘do you cancel them all? I really don’t know!

  10. Wilma says:

    I don’t have the definitive answer to the art-artist conundrum, but I personally chose to not support people whose actions I find very objectionable. And it comes easy, because there’s a lot of great art out there that isn’t created by racists, misogynists or abusers.

  11. Susan says:

    Am I the only one to notice the amazing pics from this shoot? I don’t know if she has laid off the Botox, it’s heavily photoshopped, the darker red hair or what but I’ve never found her prettier.

    I’ve never really been one of those people that gush about her beauty, not that I find her ‘ugly,’ she just wasnt in the hottest/most beautiful category (for me: Angelina, Charlize, etc). But this photo shoot…I finally see the hype!

    • Nibbi says:

      She does look amazing in these pics… ie, her original, youthful red haircolor is gorgeous & suits her the best.
      that said, i feel like they must have been (& esp that cover!!) photoshopped to hell. she looks like she is 25, which come on now, she isn’t anymore, and we know she isn’t, and with all the stuff she’s done to her face over the years, doesn’t really look like that at all anymore & hasn’t for years. i wish that we as women , even women in Hollywood, could feel like it’s okay to get older, that it is “safe” to, like, continue to exist in the passage of time. I feel like she has real problems with age & aging, it’s been awkward for years, and it’s sad. i wish i could say she looked like a good, healthy, vibrant older Nicole Kidman of today, instead of feeling like what the hell? are these old pics from when she actually *was* 25?

    • Caitlin Bruce says:

      I never found her particularly beautiful either. Talented? Yes Beautiful? Not really. She has good fashion sense and is statuesque but those fillers she had for years were terrible. The fact she denied it for so long pissed me off too. I remember watching her in Grace of Monocco and the director when doing close ups removed (cut) her forehead from the shots, it was laughable

  12. Miss Jupitero says:

    I think I hear what she is saying. It is a struggle– and should continue to be a struggle. As long as people don’t try to make excuses for or deny shitty behavior, I am okay with whatever their boundaries are about watching and appreciating the films as art.

    Sometimes a shitty person makes great films. I can’t toss out Polanski’s films (though I would toss him out in a heartbeat). And in the case of Woody Allen, sometimes a shitty person makes shitty films– his work is easy for me to ghost.

  13. Maum says:

    I think it depends on the part. She was very sexy in Eyes Wide Shut. The only convincing actor in an otherwise messy film.

    I totally see her point about Polansky by the way. A lot of his films are great, which is precisely the problem- and what she is referring to.
    There’s a long history of very problematic artists through history- undeniably talented but awful people- we can ‘cancel’ them for moral reasons but we can’t dismiss the artistic value of their work.

  14. Fiji says:

    Complete gossipy comment here – I LOVE her styling in these photos!! Gorgeous.

    • Esmom says:

      Agreed. MarieClaire has a knack for stunning shots, imo. I love the rust-colored dress. Although I agree with whoever above said they were probably pretty heavy on the Photoshop.

  15. lucy2 says:

    Whew, by this post’s headline I thought she was going to be supportive of him.
    I think she handled the question well, and I like that she admits she doesn’t know the answer.
    I hate that they asked about her adult children though, we all know what happened there and I wish people would leave her alone about something so painful.

    • Esmom says:

      Yes, to everything you said. I actually got a pang of heartbreak from her answer about her older kids. I don’t see why they needed to go there.

  16. Patty says:

    I just rewatched Stoker last night. Love that movie. She’s one of those people that I just can’t imagine having hot nasty sex; becaise she seems so concerned about her appearance all of the time. Maybe she means she has a strong or high sex drive? One can have a strong sex drive and still be strictly vanilla – not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  17. DS9 says:

    “In this time back in that time….”

    What is she talking about with that? That time was not that long ago and sleeping with barely teenagers girls after giving them quaaludes wasn’t kosher then either.

    She seems to be falling back on the moral relativity excuse as of Polanski’s “relationship” were akin to Margaret Beaufort’s marriage.

    Ma’am, stop. Regardless of the nuance, she doesn’t have to watch Polanski’s movie. There is no mandate that all art be consumed and recomsumed.

    How hard is it to cancel someone? She doesn’t get a pass because she can say it prettier.

  18. cate says:

    I don’t blame her but I’m also sick of this narrative that art is somehow more important than behavior and a good movie is worth seeing despite it supporting a sexual predator, especially one who raped a child. i’m not that desperate for good stories (there are tons that aren’t made by rapists). i think hollywood is mostly composed of phony activists who use PR buzz words but actually don’t care or back up these causes. part of this is the thirst of anyone in hollywood and part of it is ignorance. support new artists and voices and storytellers who can tell a great story without having assaulted someone. to me, this is simple. rape is the line, come on.

  19. CocoNoir says:

    I look at those mistakes Nicole Kidman’s dermatologist made before and after applying dermal fillers and Botox, and they’re amazing. Years ago, I saw her at a press event and I didn’t realise there was a human sitting there. Her skin was waxy, flawless and porcelain white so she looked like a life sized doll because there was no movement in her entire body. She didn’t even blink. And then someone directed a question in the vicinity of her face and then I noticed that only her pupils dilated. It took me a second to realise that her lips were also moving and that it was an actual person speaking.

  20. Grey says:

    Does Kidman have a strong sexuality??? Lenny Kravitz wrote a song about how much she blew his mind in bed!

  21. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    The dichotomy between artists and their personal lives is fairly old as time. For me, the first that popped into mind if my love affair with Picasso’s work. WORK. Between ancient history and now (lol), artists have been muderers, monsters, psychopaths, sociopaths, pedophiles, liars, cheaters, thieves, philanderers, awful husbands, terrible wives, horrific parents and on and on. People generally choose which goes too far for them concerning separation of personal and professional expression, and of course a phenominal artist is one who draws from experience, for example does anyone collect Hitler’s paintings? I’m sure someone does, but I wouldn’t. Dickens, Hemingway, et al were lousy men but their works? Timeless. Don’t have to mention Poe. Some of Polanski’s films are admittedly classics. I also think so many artists give over to their craft and lose a grounding to reality. Not an excuse to be sure, but perhaps they’re given reprieves in exchange for artistic contributions. For me, too far is criminal behavior. Pedophilia. Rape. Sexual harassment. Etc. In Picasso’s case, I can handle his philandering lol.

  22. dworkin's ghost says:

    Separating the art from the artist is a feeling, and as such people can’t control if they do or don’t. Either the abusers art is tainted for you, or it isnt. Who you are, and who you’ve experienced decide if you can enjoy an abuser’s movie, not you making a conscious decision to stop enjoying something, which is not how feelings work. What this question really is, is about living artists we can deal with now; do we let art deemed great by the godmakers at s&s or wherever be used as blood money to pay off the crime of abuse? Ideally, no. In this case, you can have your soft feelings for the art and artist, but still make a decision to stop supporting them so that the culture of abusers doesn’t continue thriving.

  23. indian says:

    As an Indian, my perspective has been to separate the art from the politics and the person creating it. The Taj Mahal while beautiful was created by an invader king, with oppressive taxes on ordinary citizens and forcing citizens into slavery to build it. However, we still admire it in honor of the rest of the people that built it. I think the same holds true of Polanski and Woody Allen-honor it for the others that contributed to making the movies. and for the art and beauty itself.

  24. Case says:

    I like her answer. She doesn’t feel the need to defend him as a person when saying she feels his films are amazing.

    It’s a personal choice, how to navigate consuming great art made by bad people. I really love some of the Woody Allen films I’ve watched when I was younger and didn’t know about his scandals, and I probably wouldn’t watch more in the future, as it would make me uncomfortable. I also go out of my way to avoid artists that promote political/social ideas I feel are harmful. I can’t separate the person from the art much of the time.

    I personally can’t watch Depp films anymore because A) I don’t want to give him my money and B) I used to adore him, and it’s personally painful for me to see him now knowing what I know of him.

  25. DS9 says:

    The Taj Mahal isn’t going anywhere. It would cost money and remove history to take it down to say nothing of the revenue stream it removes.

    It costs the world nothing to simply stop watching Polanski movies. I think The Pianist has something to tell the world, yes but there are other films that tell that story just as beautifully.

    • someone says:

      You could be right, but my point is that is that throughout the world sometimes people make conscious decisions to separate the art from the artist, and it’s not only because of the cost. It’s a constant struggle to know what’s right. I’m not smart enough to know the absolute right thing to do. just sharing my thoughts.

  26. Valerie says:

    Ok, honestly? I liked Rosemary’s Baby when I saw it. This was a few years ago; I was aware, as most today are, of his actions. I’m not a fan of separating the art from its artist, especially in a movie like that, where a woman is essentially raped by the devil. That’s an unsettling plot from any perspective, and when it comes from a man who raped a 13 year old… I just really can’t look at that as social commentary by an impartial party.

    What I liked was the acting and the overall aesthetic, but those are unrelated to Polanski. I thought Mia was amazing. But when I tie it all back to its director, ugh.

  27. cantgoogleme says:

    Any interview about Polanski without any mention of how gross and abhorrent he is in every way, and how shocking it is he is not in jail is completely unacceptable and a cop-out answer by ANY CELEBRITY.

    How would his victims feel reading us go on about how great his films are? He should not receive any recognition, fame, or artistic ego boosts ever until he dies. He should be persecuted constantly, and if they are too weak to do so publicly than at least let him be forgotten and rot in a vacuum of no attention whatsoever.

  28. JaneDoesWork says:

    I think a lot of celebrities think that when they’re asking questions like the Polanski one that they need to take a firm position either way. In reality, the most human of answers is something to the effect of “I’m conflicted and i haven’t found the answer yet because those movies are brilliant but what he did is disgusting and unacceptable.”