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Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006

Age no barrier to love, Kidman says

By Canadian Press
Globe and Mail
Sunday, Sep. 7, 2003

Toronto — Nicole Kidman brought something other that undeniable star power to the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday — hope for older men.

In The Human Stain, the 36-year-old Australian actress has a passionate affair with an older man, Anthony Hopkins playing a widowed college professor who's 71.

"Age doesn't matter," she declares absolutely at an evening press conference when asked if audiences will accept her in such a situation.

"The reason people are drawn together, the reason people choose each other, we never know."

Kidman believes that without all the exterior forces working against them, the relationship of the two characters in The Human Stain definitely could have worked, even though both people were so emotionally damaged.

"The different people that enter into your life at different times, they enter into it . . . because you allow them, they enter because of timing, they enter because of a connection between two people, not the way in which their bodies look."

She says people who operate on strictly physical level probably have very superficial relationships that don't stand a chance.

"A 70-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman, a 25-year-old man and a 70-year-old woman, bring it on! It doesn't matter!"

She also dismissed questions about whether she can be believable as a janitor and a farmhand, which is what her secretive character does in The Human Stain.

"I cleaned toilets when I was an usherette in Sydney and my hands got very dirty. Whether you believe me or not, I tried to do the best I could to honour her as a woman."

And while her accountant may disagree, Kidman says acting is not like work to her, that trying to make pieces of art is something she loves to do.

"There's no drive behind it. It's more an acceptance of what my life is and that is being an actress and somebody who absolutely loves what they get to do. And would do it whether you pay me, which sometimes happens, or whether you don't pay me, which also happens. Because I'm dedicated to it."

Still, she is coming off three consecutive roles in which she played dark and damaged women — festival entries Robert Benton's The Human Stain and Lars von Trier's Dogville, and last year's The Hours for which she won the Academy Award.

And that means she has to shift gears, which is why her next film is a comedy, a lighthearted remake of the 1970s horror movie The Stepford Wives.

"It's tough being funny!" she declares with a hearty laugh. And, by the way, reports of her playing the Elizabeth Montgomery part in a film version of the old TV sitcom Bewitched are premature. She says she hasn't yet committed to it and if she did, Samantha's famous magical nose-twitch would probably be computer-generated.

She confirms that she still suffers from bouts of stage fright, not only before doing theatrical roles, but when she first commits to choosing a film, and sometimes she has to back out. She says Meryl Streep — with whom she co-starred in The Hours — often has the same fear.

"I'm actually desperate to do a play again within the next 18 months because if I don't do it I'll never go back onstage. And I want to do it."

She says although she served as a producer, because of that fear of not being in the proper emotional state at the time, she had to bow out of the leading role that Meg Ryan took in Jane Campion's upcoming psychological thriller In the Cut.

"It was a very painful thing to give up," she admits. "But at the same time I was very glad for Meg Ryan."

As for life after Oscar, Kidman says it didn't sink in until she saw for herself what a global event the Academy Awards were.

"I've realized just from my travels, the awareness of it is worldwide."

She says, too, she is especially glad to have won for playing Virginia Woolf.

"I have a strange relationship with Miss Woolf." ROBTv Workopolis