Nicole Kidman: Women in Hollywood Are 'Lucky' Now That They Can Age Like Men

Nicole Kidman opens up about Big Little Lies, aging, and how roles for women over the age of 40 are finally being celebrated and shared.

I don't know about you, but season two of Big Little Lies can't come soon enough. For one, all the cast members are returning, including Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, and Shailene Woodley. Plus, we all now know that Madeline (Witherspoon) is going to throw ice cream on Meryl Streep. Really, how could they tease something like that then make us wait?

But it isn't just Madeline's brilliant one-liners ("I love my grudges; I tend to them like little pets") or Kidman's profound portrayal of a domestic abuse survivor that makes the show so compelling. As Kidman stated when she accepted a SAG Award (her first, at age 50) for her performance, Big Little Lies proves there's an appetite for story-telling about women over the age of 40. "Twenty years ago, we were pretty washed up by this stage in our lives," she said. "That's not the case now. We have proven...and so many more are proving that we are potent and powerful and viable."

The same can be said for Kidman's ongoing involvement as a spokeswoman for Neutrogena, where she's using her influence to shift conversations around aging from something that's stigmatized to something that's celebrated. We recently caught up with her at an event for the brand to chat beauty, BLL, and more.

How do you think the way we talk about beauty is changing?

I think we share a lot more. It’s not secretive, like, "I come out of the house and this is how I look [all put together]," like in the fifties or sixties. It’s very much now, "What do you use? What’s the latest? Oh my gosh, tell me!" and everyone shares, which is really helpful for women. I think it’s changing the way we see each other. We’re lucky now that we can age—and still age really well—but all be very open about it.

Speaking of aging, what's your opinion on the term 'anti-aging?'

As we get older we can still look good, be healthy and vibrant and appealing. I think that’s what every human being wants. Nobody wants to look like you’ve had the life sucked out of you. I just say it’s about gracefully aging—because it can be fun!

What influence has the movement to embrace aging had on Hollywood?

I’m in a position as an actress where I love the lines being blurred, because I get to play younger, I get to play older, and I get to play my age. Men always got to do that, and we're in a position now for women where we’re trying to carve that path. It’s still hard to convince [casting agents and producers] to [let us] do that, but it’s a lot easier. I think other women are going, "No, I want to see women who I relate to, who I’ve grown up with, not just be discarded. I want to see them achieving things and still going strong."

For me, I’ve been working since I was 14, so I have this crazy, intimate relationship with fans in a sense that they’ve seen my life, they’ve seen me fall, they’ve seen me get back up—they’ve seen me go through so much and still be here. That’s really exciting. And when Big Little Lies came out, the support from other women has been really nice. [Actresses my age] don't just disappear, but we actually have opportunities to take chances. It makes me feel very grateful.

See the video.

A lot of women are still afraid or ashamed to reveal their age. Is that something you've noticed?

I think it has to do with self-esteem, and also with bullying. [That’s why I’m glad] there’s this enormous move toward supporting each other. I think there’s a thing now where so many women are saying to each other, "I’ve got your back, girl." When you know you’re supported like that, I think self-esteem and confidence grows, and the more we encourage that the better. We need to constantly be working on supporting rather than criticizing.

When you were discussing Celeste’s character in Big Little Lies, what beauty aspects were important to you to focus on?

Well, I use sunscreen because we’re shooting outdoors in Monterrey. I love the Neutrogena Ultra Sheer with 100+ SPF. And I use the Neutrogena Ivory Base Foundation, because I like Celeste to have that very pale, porcelain skin since she’s got a fragility. But I always approach each character differently, so I try to approach it from the inside out, and I don’t wear really heavy makeup. It’s just not who I am anyway.

I like being able to change the way I look with each character. Sometimes you use prosthetics to do that, and then you really need to take care of your skin, because they’re so harsh. I just did a role in a movie called The Destroyer [out in December 2018] where I age up, and then I age younger in the same movie. The prosthetics take two hours and you have to use harsh alcohol to take them off. They’re really tough on your skin. That’s why I’ll go home and use a mask, like Neutrogena's HydroBoost, because when you put straight alcohol on your skin, it trashes it.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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