Sofia Coppola on working with Nicole Kidman in ‘The Beguiled’

Nicole Kidman has bloody vengeance on her mind in The Beguiled. Photo: Ben Rothstein

Nicole Kidman has bloody vengeance on her mind in The Beguiled. Photo: Ben Rothstein

Nicole Kidman is out for revenge. As Miss Martha in Sofia Coppola’s new reworking of Civil War melodrama The Beguiled, she and her libidinous young female charges exact a bloody vengeance on Colin Farrell’s wounded enemy soldier after he seeks refuge in their seminary.

In this past year, our Nicole has silenced long-lingering doubts about her acting prowess. Hit HBO series Big Little Lies was the first salvo in this campaign; The Beguiled is the latest. Sofia Coppola – who won best director for the film at Cannes – says she wrote the role of Miss Martha for Nicole.

“I’ve always wanted to work with her, and when I was writing the screenplay I pictured her and that helped me,” Sofia says. “I knew she would bring a lot to Miss Martha, including humour and emotion. I’ve loved Nicole’s performances – especially when she plays a little bit twisted, like in To Die For.”

The Beguiled

On the surface, it’s hard to explain why Nicole has ever been treated with suspicion by Aussie filmgoers and critics. She’s worked consistently and well since her first starring role in 1983’s BMX Bandits and proved herself unafraid to take on bold parts, such as her mould-breaking turn in To Die For.

Tall poppies (and an unfortunate marriage to Mr Scientology) aside, it’s tempting to surmise that some Australians think her air of composure and control is a bit, well, glacial. She’s never been the sort of everywoman we tend to embrace. But Sofia says it was that quality she wanted to harness.

“Nicole can play it so commanding that you know she’s in charge of the whole group. Miss Martha’s moment as a southern belle has passed, and the parties are over. What’s become real for her is protecting these girls; she’s had to be strong in difficult times.”

Right now, there’s no sign of Nicole’s moment passing. She had four films in competition at Cannes this year and has another four slated for release in 2018. Next month, Foxtel subscribers will be able to savour another “twisted” performance from her in the second series of Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake. Sweet revenge indeed.

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