Nicole Kidman

The last time I saw her, she was married to a well-known first husband. She seems to get more beautiful with age. Perhaps this glow is a result of her happiness with current husband, singer Keith Urban.

An elegant vision in white and with her hair swept up, Nicole Kidman received the Cinema Vanguard Award at the 26th annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival. The Aussie-born Oscar winner was as raw and uncut as anyone could be. It was as if she was not wearing any makeup. She does not pull any punches.

Kidman was raised on theater, which means she was exposed to many varying ideas and philosophies at a young age. She started reading serious stuff at an early age, when most kids are into trendy authors. Her faves were Chekhov and Dostoyevsky.

“If you read great literature young, you can understand so many types of characters.

“I’m always drawn to obsessive-compulsive people to play,” she says with a laugh. “Sorry: the more obsessive, the better. But not necessarily in a husband!”

Currently, Kidman is receiving accolades for her role in the controversial film, Rabbit Hole.

“When it came along, I responded to it because I don’t like to take anything for granted. This is what people are going through. I may not be going through this, but I certainly have had my share of loss and grief. I wanted to explore it, understand it and I wanted to reach out and put myself in a place of feeling connected in the world — if that makes sense.

“To play that woman, I learned a lot. Much of the performance is about restraint. How does one deal with losing a child? [Nicole has four children.] Aaron (Eckhart) and I went into the material with so much emotion, that John (Cameron Mitchell) would be like, ‘You need to hold back.’ And he has a huge heart. But I could understand her and got into it far easier than any other character. I have no sense of why, other than what I’m telling you now.”

Kidman wears a producer’s chapeau, even though the odds are almost against you to get a film made.

“It takes years. You need patience and a belief in the material.”

She has her eye on a couple of scripts with unusual material.

“I’m not necessarily developing stuff for myself; I am developing stories that I feel no one else will.”

When Kidman watches herself on screen, she has taught herself to desensitize.

“It can be awkward. I’m not necessarily the best judge of myself. When I look back, I say ‘Wow, I am glad I chose to go with that director,’” referring to Moulin Rouge.

“Literally, Baz Luhrmann did not have a script. He sold me on the idea with some pictures and that was it. I thought I’d go for it. I knew him from Australia and loved the way he worked.”

Recently, she made a decision to do Broadway with James Franco in Sweet Bird of Youth.

”It’s what I do. If I am not in a place of pushing myself and not being in discomfort, the work gets stale. I need to stretch my muscles. A live audience is the best thing for an actor with the adrenalin pumping through. You have three hours to make it work!”

Sue Facter writes about all things A list. Her credits have been in “USA Today,” “Los Angeles Times,” “Women’s Day Australia” and publications worldwide.