Nicole Kidman didn’t want to take her work home with her after playing Celeste on the HBO hit Big Little Lies. The 50-year-old actress opened up about portraying the victim of domestic abuse, including the incredibly graphic and violent sex scenes between herself and co-star Alexander Skarsgard, who played her abusive husband, Perry.
“There wasn’t really any rehearsal,” she told W magazine in its new issue. “It was more on the day we would go in and do it. Alex was so in it, and I was so in it, and there was — talking about trust — an enormous amount of trust there, yet at times it felt dangerous and really upsetting, and I would go home afterwards and I would feel — I would keep on a very brave face at work and then I would go home and I didn’t realize how much it had penetrated me. And it affected me in a deep way.”
Kidman acted out all of the scenes herself, which left her body covered in bruises. But she was insistent about staying in character throughout.
“I felt very exposed and vulnerable and deeply humiliated at times. I mean, I remember lying on the floor in the bathroom at the very end when we were doing the scenes in episode 7, and I was lying on the floor and I just wouldn’t get up in-between takes,” she said. “I was just lying there, sort of broken and crying, and I remember at one point [director] Jean-Marc [Vallee] coming over and just sort of placing a towel over me because I was just lying there in half-torn underwear and just basically on the ground with nothing on and I was just, like [gasps].”
The experience gave the Oscar winner insight into how real-life victims of domestic violence could feel.
“I would have flashes of images of women that have gone through this and I’m like, ‘This is authentic, this is the truth and this is what I have to do, and it would just come through like that,'” she said.
Kidman, who is known for her Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning work, noted that this performance is a true highlight for her.
“I was walking through the airport today and, you know, women are stopping me going, [gasps] Big Little Lies. And then their husbands are there too and they’re, like, ‘We love it!’ And I feel, that’s amazing. I’ve never had that in my career,” she said. “I mean, Moulin Rouge maybe ages ago, but that was far more niche at the time. This is much more penetrated in a much deeper level for me and broadly. I mean, that’s the power of TV. And I love it.”