Let me confess, right up front, that I am not a big fan of first-person celebrity interviews in the Rolling Stone or Vanity Fair style. You know the kind. We're talking about those long, long, long feature stories that include breathless passages that sound something like this: "It has only been hours after Julia Roberts finished an all-night wrap party for her hot new movie (insert title) at the home of (insert name of mega-director), but she still looks fabulous in her (insert hot clothing details) as we tear down the highway in her (insert hot car) under the gaze of the Hollywood sign. As she turns to face me in the passenger seat, her glistening smile is so big that her mouth looks like" etc., etc.
The key thing, in these interviews, is for the performer to "open up" and dish about some of their inner feelings and desires. You are supposed to meet the real person, in other words. Kind of. Sort of. The key is for the star to appear to be opening up and sharing deep feelings, on cue, interview after interview. I guess it's called "acting."
The Washington Post had one of those interviews the other day with superstar Nicole Kidman and, as always, I was fascinated by what subjects were "hot" and what topics where "too hot" to handle. As is often the case, religion was not something that was open for discussion, while she did what she had to do to promote "Australia," her new epic with super-hunk Hugh Jackman.
Thus, we can read things like this:
She's changed, or something. That's her story now. She uses Lululemon words, like calm and universe.
She tells Oprah (and everyone else) about going skinny-dipping in a pool beneath some Australian waterfall last year with a half-dozen other women, and how they all got pregnant within weeks of that magical bath. She got pregnant, too, and drifted out of the public sphere for a little while on a fecund ray of sunshine.
OK, that's pretty private.
Or further into the story, we hit this background passage about Kidman's willingness to be edgy and brave, when she is working on the right movie, with the right director.
In concept, and sometimes in execution, Kidman's choices can be seen as an unflinching act of courage and artistry -- if you squint. When, for example, a director wants her to do a graphic sex scene, she'll do it. She'll do rape, abuse, deep pain. In "Fur," as an imaginary version of Diane Arbus, she erotically shaved all the fake body hair off a hirsute Robert Downey Jr. She'll do furious masturbation ("Margot at the Wedding"), she'll do nude, she'll verge on pedophilia. (That last one was in 2004's "Birth" -- some say it was her best movie, only who ever saw it?) Generally, she'll rip her heart out in take after take. She did get an Oscar, after all. (In 2003, for playing Virginia Woolf in "The Hours." Her cruelest detractors say the prosthetic nose won.)
OK, that's pretty blunt and some of that, perhaps, should have been private.
So what is off the table, in this time of deep sharing and multi-media PR intimacy? Well, there are some subjects that are actually personal, like real discussions of superstar former husband Tom and current superstar husband Keith. Oh, and there's God.
Same goes for all the tricky subjects: The rehab stints Urban did soon after she married him in 2006. ("We got through it.") Her old life, married to Cruise. ("A great father.") Whatever went down years ago with the Church of Scientology. (She has said before that she gave up on it even before the marriage to Cruise was over, respectfully backed away from it and eventually reconnected to the Catholicism she grew up with, and has never said a disparaging word about Thetans or Xenu, though imagine what she must have seen.)
Well now. I can understand not wanting to go toe to toe with the legal team that backs Cruise and the Church of Scientology. But is her current faith life totally off limits? Why?
So, what does it mean to say that she "eventually reconnected" with Catholicism? Is Kidman a practicing Catholic? Raise your hand if you'd like to know. How does that fit in with her art and her life?
Like I said, some celebrity subjects are just too hot to handle -- like religion.