My power in the industry is being able to go, “Can we get this made?” And people saying, “We’ll give you some money.” And then I get to make the choices: “I want this person cast, I want this director.” It’s astounding when people listen. But I still don’t have a lot of power. Destroyer was hard to get made. You have a female director, Karyn Kusama. You have me in a lead role as an avenging undercover cop who looks the way I look in that movie — not glamorous. It’s about a very complicated, angry woman. People are not going, “We can’t wait to make this film!”
Jane Campion was the first great mind to take an interest in me. She pulled me off a stage in a local theater where I was doing Sweet Bird of Youth, playing the princess at 14 years old — ridiculous! I just went on a hike with her, and one of the important things to emphasize — women helping women. We share … information, books, podcasts, ideas, tragedies. It’s very different from networking, which sounds clinical. It’s going, “I’m your safety net,” or “I’m here if you need to vent.”
As to whether a woman has ever held me back, I wouldn’t know, because a lot of times it’s insidious, right? But I’m from a family that’s primarily female, so my ability to navigate relationships with women was set very early.
The first powerful decision I made in my life was buying an apartment at 19. I paid cash — I’d saved all my money. It was tiny, a studio on top of a sewing shop in Sydney. If everything went awry, I knew I had a floor to sleep on.
Being married to Tom Cruise at 22 is something I’m always reluctant to talk about, because I’m married now to the man who is my great love [Keith Urban], and it almost feels disrespectful.
That said, I got married very young, but it definitely wasn’t power for me — it was protection. I married for love, but being married to an extremely powerful man kept me from being sexually harassed. I would work, but I was still very much cocooned. So when I came out of it at 32, 33, it’s almost like I had to grow up.
Of course I’ve had #MeToo moments — since I was little! But do I want to expose them in an article? No. Do they come out in my work? Absolutely. I’m open and raw. I want to have my well of experience and emotion tapped into, used — and I’m not just talking about sexual harassment. I’m talking about loss, death, the full array of life. But it has to be by the right people so it’s not abused again. I’m making a movie with Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie about Roger Ailes. [Kidman is playing Gretchen Carlson.]
Winning an Oscar for The Hours, in 2003, I didn’t even notice the power then. I don’t know if it’s my self-esteem, but I still struggle to stand in that place and say, I’ve earned this. That’s probably good, because it keeps me in a state of wonder and humility and going, Wow! You want me?
*This article appears in the October 15, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!