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Nicole Kidman talks about toll her 'Undoing' role took on her mental health

The Emmy winner opened up about how playing women experiencing trauma in "The Undoing" and "Destroyer" caused her to get sick and affected her personality.
/ Source: TODAY

Nicole Kidman has shared that her roles as women suffering through trauma on "Big Little Lies" and "The Undoing" took a toll on her after leaving the set each day.

The Oscar winner spoke on the "WTF with Marc Maron" podcast about how playing the roles of women experiencing physical and psychological damage on the two HBO hits seeped into her life outside of the filming.

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Nicole Kidman said playing troubled characters in "The Undoing" and "Big Little Lies" took a toll on her physically and mentally. Amy Sussman / Getty Images

"Even on 'The Undoing' it kind of happened where I just was like suddenly, I was in this place, there was sort of a disquietness to my personality where I was uneasy, and there was duress on who I was," she said.

In "The Undoing," Kidman, 53, played a therapist whose husband is accused of murder. In "Big Little Lies," she portrayed a retired lawyer and mother who is physically and mentally abused by her husband.

"I actually got really sick, and I think this is a big thing that happens to actors," she said. "I went down for a week because your immune system doesn't know the difference between acting and truth when you're doing those."

Kidman played a therapist whose husband, played by Hugh Grant, is on trial for murder in the HBO series "The Undoing."
Kidman played a therapist whose husband, played by Hugh Grant, is on trial for murder in the HBO series "The Undoing." (C)HBO / Courtesy Everett Collection

Kidman found it difficult to shut off the role in her personal life.

"I have not learned a technique to tell my brain and my body, 'Oh this is just acting,''' she said. "I haven't learned how to clean that out.

"It doesn't really work for me. I go home, and I don't sleep well and I'm not well if it's that disturbing to me."

She experienced similar effects while filming the 2018 movie "Destroyer," in which she plays a detective who takes revenge against members of a gang of bank robbers.

"That was awful being in that place," she said. "I stayed in that character. I didn't want it to feel like acting. I would growl and moan. I was a very unpleasant person during that time."

Maron asked her why she continued to take roles like those given the traumatic effects of them, and she contrasted them with her recent role in the 2020 Netflix musical comedy "The Prom."

"But then something like Angie in 'The Prom,' I just go, 'Great I get to dance and I get to love everybody, and I get to go 'Come here, let me hug you, it's all gonna be all right,''' she said.

She also shared her fears about receiving phone calls at night after she found out about the death of the legendary Stanley Kubrick, who directed her and ex-husband Tom Cruise in the 1999 movie "Eyes Wide Shut."

"I just started screaming," she said. "I have a huge fear of phone calls in the night now because I've received a number of them with that sort of news, my father included. I have trauma attached to them."