Nicole Kidman explains why she may quit acting. The Oscar nominee tells about her new movie, ''The Hours,'' and why she'll likely pack it all in
Nicole Kidman
Credit: Nicole Kidman: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect

Sure, Nicole Kidman’s a spunky, well-mannered Aussie — chipper and polite — but her latest screen incarnation is anything but. Kidman plays tragic English author Virginia Woolf (”Mrs. Dalloway”) in ”The Hours” (limited release beginning Dec. 27). Then next year, the recent Oscar nominee (”Moulin Rouge”) and 2001 EW Entertainer of the Year has even more to offer, including parts in — count ’em! — five films, including Lars von Trier’s (”Dancer in the Dark”) ”Dogville”; Jonathan Glazer’s (”Sexy Beast”) ”Birth”; adaptations of Phillip Roth’s ”The Human Stain” and Charles Frazier’s ”Cold Mountain”; and a campy remake of 1975’s ”The Stepford Wives.” spoke to the 35-year-old single mom about ”The Hours” and what comes after.

Did you have any apprehensions about taking on the role of Virginia Woolf?
Well, when I read the script I thought, they can’t want me for Virginia. They must want me for something else. There’s no way I’m going to be able to pull this off. I don’t think I’m right. It’s going to be a disaster. [But then I thought] well, if [”Hours” director] Stephen Daldry believes I can do it, then I have to have some bit of faith. And when do you get a chance as an actress to play older? So many people say, ”Don’t do it. Oh my God, you shouldn’t! You’ll ruin your career.” But I kind of like it when people say I shouldn’t do something. It entices me.

Could you relate to your character — the infamously depressed writer?
Oh, you’re not asking me this because of…[pausing to acknowledge the devastating divorce from Tom Cruise that shook up her life in 2001]. The lines get blurred at times between life and art, but I think that’s a good thing. I think that if you take what exists within you and put it into your work, then in some way you’re feeding something and it’s not so indulgent. It’s actually taking it to another level and expressing yourself.

Why did you live alone in a cottage in the woods to prepare for this movie?
I wanted to be isolated so that I could be with my thoughts and basically do what Virginia did — read a lot and feel isolated. It was a little like I was captive. For different roles, you do different things. For this, it was very important for me to go into her psychology.

You learned how to write right-handed for this role. Was THAT necessary?
It helped me. There are some roles that you do an enormous amount of research for, and there are other things — like Lars [Von Trier’s upcoming] movie [”Dogville”] — where I just showed up. He said, ”I don’t want ANY preparation whatsoever. Come as you are.” So I did. For [”The Hours”], I’m playing someone who existed. She smoked, so I smoked. She wrote with her right hand, so I wrote with my right hand. She drowned, so I put myself under water. But, I had to keep telling myself, ”Don’t actually drown yourself!”

The Hours
  • Movie
  • 110 minutes