During a conversation with director Lee Daniels in Interview Magazine this month, Nicole Kidman revealed some of her thoughts on sex scenes and acting in general. She ends up discussing what she thinks makes for a good costar and coworker during these sensitive scenes, and I’ll warn you now: her ideas are f*cking infuriating. Apparently, the way to be a good fellow actor is to NEVER WORRY ABOUT YOUR OWN SAFETY, EVER. This came up after Lee Daniels praised her for never complaining.
And what kills me is that you don’t complain. I don’t know whether that’s a good or bad thing. I remember the love scene you did with John Cusack. I said, “John, you’re hurting her.” You were bent over the washer and dryer. I said, “Nicole, are you okay?” And you said, “I’m fine.” But it was clear that he was throwing you around the fucking room like a mop. [laughs] And the next day you came to set bruised. Is that a part of your discipline?Since this is a written interview, we can’t know for sure, but I’m going to imagine that that “laugh” was a really f*cking awkward laugh because he was so embarrassed for not looking after the safety of his actors. Of course, a director can only do so much ‘looking after’ when the actor in question refuses to value herself as a human that deserves to not injure herself.
Yeah. And also I want to protect the other actor, because he’s finding it and doing it. I want him to feel free. Actors have to protect each other in a way. The idea of humiliating another actor or being humiliated myself is devastating. So that’s why, if he’s a little rougher than he knows he’s being, the last thing I want to say is, “Oh my gosh, you hurt me.” Most actors are like that. We all go, “No, no. I’m fine. Don’t worry about it.” Because that’s how you release into things and find stuff. If you’re tentative and scared that you’re hurting someone or that you’re overstepping a line or that there’s a boundary that you’ve crossed, it makes everybody too cautious.Does Nicole Kidman really not understand the difference between speaking up for your safety and “humiliating” your coworker? The fact that this is in reference to a sex scene with a male costar with whom she doesn’t feel comfortable communicating her needs and fears adds a whole separate layer of horror. I don’t know if it actually IS separate, or if the sexual element was behind Kidman’s fear of embarrassing Cusack. But it seems obvious that in trying to “protect” her costar’s feelings, she was creating an unsafe work space. Actors, when a director (especially if they haven’t, for whatever reason, hired a fight choreographer) asks you if you’re okay, you are allowed— you are EXPECTED— to be honest. Getting the scene right is one thing, but movie sets can be dangerous, especially when you’re trying to protect someone’s feelings, or think you’re willing to sacrifice your body for a good shot. Just ask Sylvester Stallone about that time he ended up in intensive care for nine days after he told Dolph Lundgren to really hit him. Or when Robert Downey Jr. broke Halle Berry’s forearm during a struggle in Gothika. Or all of the injuries— including being struck by lightning— Jim Caviezel suffered while filming The Passion of the Christ. You may have heard about Daniel Radcliffe’s Harry Potter stunt double who was injured and permanently paralyzed while filming Deathly Hallows. Hell, even when you DO speak up, it can be hard to keep yourself safe. Like when Ellen Burstyn was hooked up to a harness during The Exorcist’s filming, and she told director William Friedkin she was being yanked around too hard. He didn’t listen and her spine was permanently injured.
You have a dangerous enough job, Nicole Kidman, without letting John Cusack throw you around “like a mop.” You are not a mop. You are a person. Please remember that.
Via Vanity Fair.