Nicole Kidman Talks Stoker

The Oscar winning actress describes working with Oldboy director Park Chan-wook.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

After seeing Stoker at Sundance, we had a chance to attend a press conference with the cast in Los Angeles to speak about the film. We got a one on one interview with Matthew Goode as well but couldn’t resist the chance to hear Nicole Kidman discuss her work. She plays Evie Stoker, the widowed mother of India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska), whose relationship with her daughter only gets worse when uncle Charlie (Goode) comes to visit. The film is directed by Park Chan-wook from a screenplay by "Prison Break's" Wentworth Miller. Some spoilers for a few of Stoker’s striking moments follow, but you really won’t understand what’s being spoiled out of context anyway.

Stoker opens on March 1 (USA) and August 29 (Australia).

Stoker Nicole Kidman

We ask Kidman about the scene, in the trailers, where Evie confronts India.

Nicole Kidman: I love the scene because it's so unusual. When I first read it, I remember reading it and I never expected it to end with that line of "I can't wait to watch life tear you apart." So, from where it starts to where it ends, that's an amazing monologue. But to make it, because of the way director Park shoots which is really intense and close, we did it a number of different ways, but we shot it in one shot, which is fantastic as an actor to not be cut up and edited. It just gets to play out that way. So I just was very, very grateful that he had the vote of confidence in me to be able to do it because it's a really weird, weird scene. But then to ask that, to say to your own child, "Who are you?" that's interesting to me. That's a fascinating sort of dynamic.

Nicole Kidman on what drew her to Stoker.

For me, primarily it was the combination of the cast and being spearheaded by director Park. I knew his films and I wanted to work with him. I just thought the combination of this script with his direction would be really unusual. I saw it for the first time at Sundance last week and I was like, "Wow," which is a great reaction to have, a good wow, not a bad wow.

Nicole Kidman on being directed through a translator.

There are times when you have to clarify words because obviously particular words mean certain things. And so a lot of times it would be me just going, "Is this exactly what he wants?" Because in translation, things can get lost. So I was just very specific with him.

Nicole Kidman on the script and tone of Stoker.

I had to read it a couple of times to understand it just because it's got a lot of subtext and layers and stuff, so I just wanted to kind of absorb what the overall feeling of it was. Director Park, which is interesting to talk to him about, says this is a movie about bad blood, which I thought was a really interesting sort of way of describing it and whether what bad blood is in a way. I think the strength of director Park is his atmosphere. He creates incredible atmosphere. This script relies heavily on the language of the images because there's not a lot of dialogue and so the cinematic language of it has to be very, very strong. When I had a meeting with him, we talked about all of that and it was just extraordinary how detailed and precise in what he knew he wanted to say it with. His use of color and sound and everything is all very specific and it's not by chance. And that's something that really kind of fills in a lot in a script like this. I'm not sure what genre it fits in to. It's hard to define it.

Nicole Kidman on why Evie and India don’t get along.

I actually don't think that Evie's evil. I felt like she's misunderstood. No, I feel like she's just starved for love and she's got a child that she doesn't connect with. Director Park, when we first met, said to me, "Ever since you've held this baby, this baby's never wanted to be held." And that's an amazing way to start building the relationship of a mother and child because that's horrifying as a mother if your baby doesn't want to be held by you. So I think that's the thrust of her is that this child that she's had just doesn't connect with her and so she's always trying to in some way connect. I mean obviously that's gotten broken down over years and years and India had a much stronger connection with her father. They hunted together and Evie didn't like to hunt. So that was fascinating to me. And then also, I sort of came up with my own thing in terms of she's just very starved for love and that creates a particular personality after a while, being starved of being touched and held.

Nicole Kidman on the striking visuals of Stoker.

I was amazed at the filmmaking. You don't see that kind of filmmaking that often. A lot of the stuff I hadn't seen because I'm not in it. So even the scene in the playground, I was just like, "Wow," with the way she climbed up the slide. It's very, very layered in the metaphors that he uses. The hair scene, I had no idea. He's just like, "We're just going to shoot brushing your hair." And then I see the film and I'm like, "Oooh, that's amazing." But that sort of detailed filmmaking is, one, really hard to do and not have it be pretentious and, two, have it really sort of tell the story which is what you're taught is that cinema is the language of images and dialogue. You really should be able to make a film with no dialogue and tell a story, and I really think director Park should do that next.

Read CraveOnline's Sundance Film Festival review of Stoker.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.