Compiled by: Jack Foley
Excerpts from a syndicated interview with Nicole Kidman, by
Q. How did you become Virginia Woolf?
A. I became pretty obsessed with her and basically read everything,
all her letters, and the Hermione Lee biography - that sort of
became the Bible. And then it was, 'How do we give her something
else?' We played around with my face to try and find the character.
Your face is your tool, as an actor. You can't be attached to
it - you've go to be willing to change it. I would spend two and
a half hours in the make-up chair getting the nose put on and
I did this thing where I pulled my lips in when I talked and moved
my face in a certain way. I just hoped it wouldn't become a huge
issue in terms of, 'Look at this girl walking around with a nose
That it would be, 'I believe this person.' I loved having that
profile but I did have a fear that people would laugh when I come
on the screen.
Q. You also learned to write with your right hand...
A. It was slower and so much harder because I'm very left-handed.
I'm not ambidextrous. And how do you play a writer with that sort
of imagination and inner life, how do you capture that? Stephen
[Daldry] was so wonderful because he gave me this image. He would
say, 'Think of it as electricity that goes from the brain, down
the arm, down the finger into the pen and on the paper.'
There's almost no time between having the thought and putting
it on paper. I would be just allowed to sit in an armchair in
this beautiful big house with the writing board and write and
smoke and he would film it. But I hate to demystify it too much.
I always kind of cringe when I hear people divulging all their
I don't know if it's being Australian, but you tend to keep your
business to yourself a bit. You take on attributes, you're not
quite sure how or why but it just starts to wash over you. I don't
have to be called Virginia when I'm playing the character, but
while I'm filming she orbits around me and is always there. The
ideas come at 3am and you just hope it's all going to synchronise
and somehow blossom.
Q. What most struck you about Virginia?
A. The way in which she grappled with her creativity. It's just
so extraordinary, the way she was under such duress in terms of
her psychological make-up and yet still stayed true to her creative
process. I find it inspiring that all of the pain and all of the
struggle made it into her writing. She didn't censor herself;
it just would be.
At other times when she was in a coma, practically, when she was
having the real breakdowns, they thought the writing would make
it worse and so they would forbid her from writing. There's a
scene between Virginia and her husband on the train station where
she says, 'You cannot find peace by avoiding life, Leonard'. A
beautiful line. And true.
When I read the script, it reverberated through my psyche. It
somehow had great relevance and great meaning. You don't know
when that's going to hit you, when you read a book or study a
person. I had it happen with Chekhov as well, with The Seagull.
I studied that at school and then when I was about 19, I delved
into it again and suddenly Nina was real on a very, very deep
level within me. I understood everything and it clicked, you know.
Q. Are you ever tempted to avoid life yourself?
A. I think we all are, aren't we. Sweep it under the carpet! As
an actor your emotional life tends to be very present, but the
beautiful thing is that you do get to express yourself quite openly.
Finding that balance is sometimes difficult. I have no idea how
I act. I'm always sure that I'm never going to be able to act
again after I've finished something. It's such an intangible thing.
You hope that it stays around and doesn't evaporate.