September 2024 Calendar Homemade

The Secret Superpower of Nicole KidmanMario Sorrenti

Belted jumpsuit, $5,590, gloves, $1,590, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, Cartier.

Bare feet tucked up on the couch, hands burrowed into the sleeves of her Balenciaga suit, multi-award-winning actress Nicole Kidman looks me dead in the eye and, with great relish, delivers one of her most iconic lines: “Heartbreak feels good in a place like this.”

In case you’ve been living under a rock, or haven’t been to the movies in the last few years, that quote is from a spot Kidman filmed for AMC Theatres at the height of the pandemic. It’s a simple 60-second ad, and yet, from the moment of its release in September 2021, it became the stuff of legend. People stand and salute when it plays in theaters. The internet overflows with homemade “Nicole Kidman for AMC” merch. Sotheby’s recently auctioned off the pinstriped Michael Kors Collection suit worn in the campaign for $9,525.

While not every actor enjoys becoming a meme, Kidman has loved every second of it, including the growing trend of drag queens spoofing the AMC ad in their performances. “My dream will be to be onstage doing it with a drag queen,” she says. “I’ve got to be able to do that at some point.”

September  Calendar  Free Printable with Holidays
September Calendar Free Printable with Holidays

Mario Sorrenti

Jacket, $4,996, scarf, $515, tights, $115, sandals, $1,045, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, bracelet, rings, from $3,850, Cartier.

That the campaign went mega-viral, to Kidman, is kismet: She filmed it over one weekend while working on the movie Being the Ricardos, recruiting the film’s DP, Jeff Cronenweth, and her friend, Oscar-winning screenwriter Billy Ray, to make it happen. She felt it was her duty to answer AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron’s call to help get people back into movie seats. “It was just the desire to keep cinemas alive,” Kidman says. “I’ve had the best experiences in cinema. I’d pretend I was going to school; I’d forge a note, and I’d go and sit in a movie theater. That’s a safe haven for me, so the idea of those not existing—that’s just not part of the equation in my lifetime.”

So being memed, getting the SNL treatment, having Jimmy Kimmel crack jokes about it onstage at the 2023 Oscars—it’s all worth it to Kidman. “If that’s what it takes, I’ll do whatever it takes,” she says with a laugh. “We have to have some more ideas for the next one.”

September  Calendar  Free Printable with Holidays
September Calendar Free Printable with Holidays

Mario Sorrenti

Bra, $365, brief, $355, jacket (underneath), $4,995, garter, $625, tights, $115, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, bracelet, Cartier. Watch, Omega.

This, ultimately, is the biggest through line of Kidman’s long and illustrious career, the magic that she brings to every project and every set: community. She loves connecting people—especially women. In 2017, she made a very public pledge at a press conference during the Cannes Film Festival that she would work with a female director every 18 months. It came partially from a crisis plaguing Hollywood—she cited the statistic that only 4.2 percent of the top films in 2016 had been directed by women—but also from a very personal place. “There’s a lot of talk, but I need to do; I’m a doer. I also just love women,” Kidman says. “I’m surrounded by great women and I understand all the aspects of different women, because we have so many women in our family. I feel very, very safe and very at home.”

I’m fortunate that I’ve got a job where I get to explore emotional landscapes that are heavy, strange, extraordinary, bizarre, beautiful, deep. I don’t shy away from them.”Mario Sorrenti

Dress, pantaleggings, $4,290, Balenciaga. Earrings, $2,390, bracelet, rings, from $3,850, Cartier.

From Sofia Coppola’s film The Beguiled to the HBO miniseries The Undoing, directed by Susanne Bier, it’s clear Kidman has more than made good on that promise, not merely working with female directors and creators, but also championing them and throwing her star power behind their work. When it came time to find a partner for the Amazon series Expats, which Kidman co–executive produced, the actress approached writer and director Lulu Wang. Like the rest of Hollywood, Kidman was dazzled by Wang’s second feature film, The Farewell, and knew she could bring something special to the story. “She really believes in a singular vision, and I know from the work that she’s chosen to do as an actor for her whole career, she really believes in directors and in taking risks, and she convinced me of that,” says Wang, who directed every episode and was one of five writers on the project—all women. “She said, ‘I don’t want it to be anything other than your vision. That’s why I came to you, and whatever you feel that you’ll need, I’ll make sure that it happens.’”

Expats is something of a full-circle moment for Kidman and her production company Blossom Films, which launched with the 2010 movie Rabbit Hole. Both are stories about women grief-stricken over the loss of a child. But where Rabbit Hole’s Becca had a sense of closure following the death of her son, Expats’ Margaret is agonized by the fact that her son has gone missing in a Hong Kong night market. It wasn’t an easy role to carry around for months of filming, especially as a mother, but Kidman felt a deep compassion for Margaret. “She will not give up hope, which was probably the thing I related to—that desire to go, ‘No, I know deep down, my child is out there and I’ll find my child,’” Kidman says of her Expats character. “She’s got this dogged refusal to accept anyone that tells her differently. She just won’t stop. And that’s what I think I empathized with.”

Mario Sorrenti

Dress, $3,890, pantaleggings, $4,290, Balenciaga. Earrings, $2,390, bracelet, rings, from $3,850, Cartier.

In one of the most striking scenes of the series, Margaret and her husband Clarke (played by Brian Tee) visit a morgue to view a body that matches the description of their son. Facing the body bag, Margaret starts laughing and finds herself unable to stop. Kidman made the suggestion based on her own experience viewing her father in his coffin. “I literally started laughing because I was so grief-stricken and so devastated. My body and my psyche just couldn’t handle it,” she says. “Even at other times in my life, I’ve laughed at inappropriate times because I have this weird short-circuiting. It’s like you need this moment to keep you alive, in a way, otherwise you’ll die. It’s too much pain.”

Expats required emotional work that could be daunting for some actors, but is the kind of material Kidman is drawn to. “I’m fortunate that I’ve got a job where I get to explore emotional landscapes that are heavy, strange, extraordinary, bizarre, beautiful, deep,” she says. “I don’t shy away from them, partly because I’m committed to examining life, what it means to be alive and feel.”

Mario Sorrenti

Bodysuit, Fleur du Mal, $295. Faux fur coat, $7,950, pantaleggings, $4,290, Balenciaga. Necklace, Cartier, $3,450. Watch, Omega $8,500.

For me, [awards are] very much about the family, whether it be my mother, my husband, my kids. You go, ‘Oh look, I earned this for the family.’ That gives it meaning and it gives it a joy.”

Thankfully, Kidman has her family to fall back on and support her. In Dave Karger’s new book 50 Oscar Nights, Kidman admitted that she was “struggling” with her personal life when she won her sole Academy Award in 2003. “I haven’t won an Oscar when I wasn’t lonely,” she says frankly, but “I’ve been nominated since winning, and for me, it’s very much about the family, whether it be my mother, my husband, my kids.” With husband Keith Urban and their two daughters, Sunday and Faith, in her corner, the personal joy makes the professional success that much better. “There’s something about it where you go, ‘Oh look, I earned this for the family,’” she says. “That makes it fun. That gives it meaning and gives it a joy.”

Mario Sorrenti

Jacket, $4,995, bra, $365, brief, $355, garter, $625, tights, $115, scarf, $515, Dolce & Gabbana. Bracelet, rings, from $3,850, Cartier. Watch, Omega.

The four have a home in Tennessee, away from the bustling coasts, and Kidman and Urban are an active part of that community, from visiting children’s hospitals to running out to buy diapers for the school donation drive. “I like being a part of something not about my work, not about who I am, none of that. Just a citizen who’s in the world. And my kids love that, too, when I do that,” she says.

Kidman, who has felt connected to breast cancer causes ever since her own mother was treated for the disease when the actress was a teenager, has helped raise millions of dollars to support research by the Women’s Cancer Program at Stanford over the years. She has also helped fund two crucial studies at Nashville’s Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, and even visits patients there when she can. She reads medical journals as well. “It’s always struck me that she doesn’t just come in and say that she wants to make a donation. She wants to understand what she’s doing and how she can have an impact,” says Vandana Abramson, MD, a coleader of the center’s Breast Cancer Research Program who has become close friends with Kidman. “How many questions she’s asked about the science speaks volumes about who she is.”

Mario Sorrenti

Belted jumpsuit, $5,590, gloves, $1,590, Saint Laurent by Anthony Vaccarello. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, Cartier.

In addition to her work with breast cancer research, Kidman has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN since 2006. As part of that work, she supported UN Women’s Say NO–UNiTE to End Violence Against Women initiative, doing more than merely throwing her name behind the cause. In 2020, as cases of intimate partner abuse spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic, Kidman reached out to UN Women to ask what she could do to help. The result was an op-ed she wrote for the Guardian, as well as a widely viewed video that raised awareness of support services. Her relationship with the UN goes back nearly 20 years, but for Kidman, developing those deep roots is crucial to doing the work. “I’d love to be able to do it all, and I’ve got to be careful how much I commit to so I can do it properly, because the idea of not doing it properly—that’s not a good feeling,” she explains.

Mario Sorrenti

Bodysuit, Fleur du Mal, $295. Faux fur coat, $7,950, pantaleggings, $4,290, Balenciaga. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, Cartier. Watch, Omega, $8,500.

Much of what Kidman does these days is tied to her two daughters with Urban, the youngest of her four children. They’ve traveled the world with their parents, whether living on location with their actor mom or touring with their musician dad. And when they’re home, Kidman loves that their house is where all the girls’ friends gather. “I love teenage girls. I just find them exquisite,” she says. “I marvel at that age group and what they’re dealing with, but also their ability to handle so much.” Her daughter Sunday, by the way, is at least partially responsible for Big Little Lies getting a third season. “My daughter is the one who watched both of the series and went, ‘Okay, there’s just no question, there has to be a third,’” she says, adding with a laugh that her daughter even gives notes on character development. “She’s like, ‘Celeste, she’s not coping in the second one, what is she doing? I could kind of see the point of view of Mary Louise.’”

Kidman confirms that she and Reese Witherspoon have been texting about the third season, both feeling the timing is right to revisit their characters. “There’s the richness of the storylines, which we’d always discussed, but it needed time because there’s actual unbelievable depth to the next chapter of these women’s lives and their children’s lives—because children grow up, and that’s kind of fascinating,” Kidman says.

Mario Sorrenti

Dress, Loewe, $5,900. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, bracelet, ring, $3,850, Cartier. Sandals, Gianvito Rossi, $950.

I have a very full life with people that I love. I’m raising daughters. I’m a wife,I’m a best friend. I’m a sister, I’m an aunt. I have deeply intimate relationships, and I’ve always been that way. And that, to me, is the meaning of life.”

She also says that there’s even a timeline in place for making it happen with the rest of the cast—which she cheekily declines to share. The Big Little Lies costars are in big demand, and it’s daunting to consider lining up those A-list calendars, but Kidman says the real friendships they’ve built with each other on set make it easy. “I think when you’re all scattered and never sort of cross paths, it’s very, very different. But when you’re all still very intertwined, that’s what makes it doable, because there’s a willingness and you want to spend time together,” she says.

There’s no question this life has been glamorous for Kidman. It’s the night of the Expats premiere in New York City, so when we part ways, she’s whisked back to her hotel room, where she’ll be zipped up into a sexy, skin-baring gown from Atelier Versace, a slinky black number with an acid-green silk-satin lining. But as much fun as she has playing with fashion and working with brands like Balenciaga, which recently named her an ambassador, she’s also more than happy to skip the after-parties. “It feels a little unreal at times. I want to get out, take my dress off, and put my jammies on. It’s kind of like the opposite of Cinderella—I’m happy to go home and just go back to me,” she admits. “It does feel a little overwhelming. I’m like, ‘I need to go home now. I’m very tired. I want to get warm, and I want to curl up, and I want to feel real.’”

Mario Sorrenti

Jacket, $4,996, scarf, $515, tights, $115, Dolce & Gabbana. Earrings, $2,390, necklace, $3,450, bracelet, rings, from $3,850, Cartier.

The real Kidman, she says, is someone who puts the Christmas lights up way too early. She’s an oldest child who is still working on her tendency toward people-pleasing. She throws big New Year’s Eve blowouts with her husband, who loves that holiday, and regularly hosts parties for her daughters’ friends, too. In other words, it’s her community that makes her real. “I have a very full life with people that I love. I’m raising daughters. I’m a wife, I’m a best friend. I’m a sister, I’m an aunt. I have deeply intimate relationships with people. And that, to me, is the meaning of life—and then taking care of what we leave behind, who we leave behind and how we do that, and our sense of respect for that.”

Hair by Tomo Jidai and makeup by Frank B, both at Home Agency; manicure by Alicia Torello for Chanel; set design by Philipp Haemmerle; produced by Mario Sorrenti Studio.

This article appears in the April 2024 issue of ELLE.