From a Q & A with David Thomson about his book, Nicole Kidman:
Q: You are a well-known film scholar and historian. Why did you decide to do a book about a movie star—and why Nicole?Thomson's Nicole Kidman is one of Christopher Bray's five notable books on film.
A: I think most people most of the time go to see movies because of who’s in them. We have always done this. And we have our favorites. We fall for movie stars when we’re very young. And I think critics often forget how vital the looks and persona of a star are. As for Nicole, I admired the way she had gone from being “Tom’s girl” and a bit of a joke, to a person who could get difficult films made. She took charge of her own career. Yet she still has huge appeal and charm and sexiness—she’s a natural flirt. That goes right back to the basis of film: find a pretty girl and photograph her. Plus she has the authentic aura of stardom. She glows. She is tall and thin and unquestionably beautiful. She’s not like us—until she smiles and you see there’s an ordinary side.
Q: This book is more than simply an insightful analysis of one of the most famous actresses working today, it’s also a portrait of what it is to be an actress and the professional and personal choices one makes along the way. Did you set out to create that portrait or was it something that just happened?
A: From the outset, I wanted it to be a book about acting, about film, and about actors putting on a show. Despite the way that, as a culture, we adore actors and actresses, I still think that we don’t understand what a rare breed they are—how their becoming “parts” for us, strangers, means running the risk of losing themselves. From the moment I began to know actors, I found this process frightening, yet magical. I think of them as explorers of the inner life. But like geographical explorers—people who go out into far and strange spaces—sometimes they don’t come back. They get lost. It’s not uncommon, but I think Nicole has made a pledge to be other people—and along the way she becomes just the actress, the player. Her real self fades. Maybe she is doing what she does because she was always afraid of...[read on]