Nicole Kidman discusses her transformation for ‘Destroyer’

Australian star Nicole Kidman underwent a complete physical transformation to star in Karyn Kusama’s new crime-thriller “Destroyer.” (Photo courtesy of IMDb)

A southern belle, a hard-boiled LAPD officer and the queen of Atlantis; these roles made up Oscar winner Nicole Kidman’s filmography in 2018. Kidman was ever-present on the silver screen this past year with roles in “Boy Erased,” “Aquaman” and now, “Destroyer.”

A neo-noir, heist, revenge and family drama all wrapped up in one, “Destroyer” was screened at Arclight Hollywood’s Cinerama Dome on Saturday followed by a Q&A with the dynamic Kidman herself.

The very first image of the film is of Nicole Kidman’s stunning physical transformation —  the main thrust of not only the film’s ad campaign but of the film itself. All around her serene blue eyes, Kidman underwent an expertly executed hair and makeup transformation that turned her into a dilapidated shell of a woman who has clearly seen brighter days.

Kidman, however, welcomed the transformation and chose to go deeper than the physical details of her character.

“As an actor, I want to become different people,” Kidman said.  “It starts internally and then, once you understand the history and the life story of the character, how does that change the way you walk, move, your skin, your eyes, all of it.”

Kidman morphed into Erin Bell, an aging cop whose past abruptly springs up on her. While decidedly living in perpetual solitude, the experienced agent must try to fix the fallout of her first undercover mission 17 years prior, when she got too involved with the group of bank robbers she had infiltrated.

When asked how the role initially came to her, Kidman said, “[The role] didn’t come to me! … it was offered to another actress who decided not to do it. Because I knew [director] Karyn Kusama … I read the script and I said this is something I’d love to make with her.”

Kidman, who is no stranger to dark and dramatic films (“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” and “Eyes Wide Shut” to name a few), admitted that she has never taken on any role quite like Erin Bell.

“It was a risk, I think, for [Kusama] to cast me in this because there’s nothing in the work I’ve done that would suggest I could do it. So I’m just grateful that she let me jump off the cliff and try.”

Once the role was hers, Kidman — as she mentioned she does with all of her roles — found an intimate point of entry into the character. As the film progresses, a cathartic storyline emerges between detective Bell and her teenage daughter, who has also been affected by her mother’s decisive absence. Kidman elaborated on this important part of the film.

“I could feel the damage in her, the pain, but the desire to try to heal the mistakes she’s made that have sabotaged her own life,” Kidman said. “I hope that the idea comes across that you can save or redirect your child’s life.”

Throughout “Destroyer,” Kidman becomes a classic action star — driving, shooting, running and punching her way through her enemies.

“The life is sucked out of Erin and she is barely hanging on,” Kidman said. “Yet when she has to fight, she finds this primal survival energy.”

Kidman’s closing remarks touched on what she currently considers most important in her career and what ultimately compelled her to commit to Kusama’s film.

“I have this huge desire at this stage of my career to help female directors find their way, get their films made, and create more opportunities for them,” Kidman said.

There was no shortage of applause for Kidman, who that night shined as a hero on and off the screen.