Not many actresses willingly flaunt their bodies in their 40s, let alone after they've had a baby, but Nicole Kidman, 44, not only doesn't mind showing off her physique, she admits to even enjoying it. In an interview with W, the star of the upcoming HBO biopic "Hemingway & Gellhorn" opens up about going nude for movies, her most memorable sex scenes, and what brought her closer with her husband, country singer Keith Urban. When asked about her propensity for filming scenes in the buff, Kidman — who has taken it all off for "Fur" and "Eyes Wide Shut" — admitted, "I don't mind being naked. Maybe as I get older, and now having had a baby, it might be different, but I enjoy not letting my issues get in the way of a performance. Once I start putting all my little insecurities in my mind, I'm not actually acting. Then it's about me — and it should never be about me. It should be about the character."
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Due to some of the sexually-charged scenes in her films, Kidman's family doesn't get to see everything she does. Her mother Janelle, who she describes as "tough on me," is a fan of "The Hours," for which Kidman won an Academy Award, and the musical "Moulin Rouge," but she was not a fan of "Fur," the 2006 biopic about "photographer of freaks" Diane Arbus. In it, Kidman actually shaves Robert Downey Jr.'s character, a man who suffers from hypertrichosis and is covered head to toe in hair — and then has sex with him. "I am the only person who has ever gotten to shave Robert Downey Jr. naked. Nobody else can say that — not even his wife!"
Sex happens to be the theme in Kidman's latest project, which co-stars Clive Owen as Ernest Hemingway to her journalist Martha Gellhorn, the writer's mistress-turned-wife. In the HBO film, the two spend years reporting from war-torn countries, while also maintaining their intense passion for each other. "The sex was very important in that relationship because that's the way she cuts Hemingway off," Kidman explains to W.
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Gellhorn and Hemingway spend as much time together intimately as they do fighting, hence the fireworks they created in bed, which Kidman and Davis recaptured for the movie. "I kept asking Phil Kaufman, the director, 'Is all this sex important for the story?'" she says. "I wanted to make sure he wasn't just getting off. But these were two people who could make love when a building was falling down around them. They had passion."
Kidman says she shares a similar passion with her husband of nearly six years, although she describes theirs as a more loving partnership. As compared to her strong-willed character, Kidman says Urban — with whom she has two daughters Sunday Rose, 3, and Faith Margaret, 17 months — describes her as "raw. He thinks the world is not a great place for me because he fears that I'll be hurt. He says, 'That's my job: I'll protect you.'"
It was Kidman's job to act as her husband's protector — and nurse — when he underwent surgery to repair damage to his vocal cords in November. As he recovered, Urban, 44, was not allowed to speak for three weeks, and that included not even a laugh. "He could write things down, and he would scribble away," explains the actress. "You can still fight when someone can't talk. When he disagreed with me, he would write, 'This is unacceptable,'" she adds with a laugh.
Communicating without the use of words was hard enough, but Kidman says she also struggled with the worry that the surgery was not going to work for her singer-husband. But when it was a success, she says the defining moment he attempted to speak for the first time again was profound — and it brought them "closer," she tells W. "It was sort of profound: to go without his voice, and then to finally hear his voice. What if he sounded different? I was there for his first words, and then we cried. How many people experience their husband's first words? If that doesn't bring you closer, you're not breathing."
Watch the trailer for "Hemmingway & Gellhorn":
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