Nicole Kidman says that she’s “bat shit crazy.”
But, it’s important to know that she’s talking about how she found the character she’s playing in her latest work, the limited series Nine Perfect Strangers.
The story follows a group of mostly wealthy, but emotionally troubled, people who come together at countryside health and wellness retreat run by an enigmatic guru – played by Kidman.
What transpires is far from anything the participants could have imagined.
The show is based on the novel by Liane Moriarty with David E. Kelley serving as showrunner. The duo collaborated on the adaption of another of Moriarty’s novels, the award-winning series Big Little Lies, which also starred Kidman. Nine Perfect Strangers also stars Melissa McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, and Regina Hall.
Revealing her method for portraying the supposed healer of the group, Masha, Kidman says, “I sort of found the accent due to putting together her whole life story and made it a Russian-American mix. She speaks seven languages just in case you didn’t know even though I don’t speak seven languages in the show. Strangely enough, the first time I met everyone I walked in as Masha, and I never related to anybody in any other way. I only related to them as Masha and stayed in the character. They would talk to me or use my name, Nicole, and I would completely ignore it.”
This is the part of her work that causes her to proclaim that she’s, as mentioned earlier, ‘bat shit crazy.’ She says it a hint of a devilish grin.
McCarthy, offering her evaluation of the series, says, “When you mask your problems… masking things doesn’t make them better. Whatever you’re avoiding, you’re not making it better for sure. So, at some point, you have to get it out and make a change. And that’s so much what I think this show is about.”
She adds, “I think it makes you think of very big questions of what will be changed when you’re gone? Who will care? What have you left behind? Have you made something better? It brings up pretty big questions.”
On the series, McCarthy and Cannavale have what can only be described as an ‘interesting’ relationship.
Cannavale says of McCarthy, “From the moment we met, I think we just — I don’t know — you can’t really put your finger on what it is. I do know that Melissa is really well-prepared. We don’t do a lot of talking about it, we’re just there together and we usually get through a couple of takes pretty easily, and then we have fun. Most of the time it just feels effortless, and I think that’s a testament to Melissa and her work ethic. It’s a thrill to be able to get to work with somebody like that.”
Talking about her own spa experiences, McCarthy told this story: “I’ve gone to a spa once, and they were like, ‘This extract of grapefruit, blah-blah-blah,’ and so I got into this tub. It literally was on fire. So, I’m now in a room, trying to not gracefully get out of a bath very fast and having some amount of modesty, and the person just stands there, and she goes, ‘Oh, yes. It stings intensely.’ Then I was like, ‘Well, let’s wash it off,’ and she goes, ‘It’s gonna keep burning for quite a while.’ I was done. I’ll just go micro dose from now on. Just I’m fine with that.”
Kidman chimes in with her least favorite spa experience, saying, “I did [this thing] where you you lie in [a] tank. Everyone was like, ‘It’s amazing. It’s amazing.’ I was freezing cold, and we had to stay in there for two hours. I hate being cold, and so I was lying in there, and that, to me, was absolute torture. I hated it. They wouldn’t let me out, and I had to lie in the sort of slightly dirty salt water for two hours.”
The series was one of the first major projects to shift production as Hollywood shut down for months due to the corona virus, relocating the entire team from California to rural Australia, where COVID-19 cases were extremely rare.
About that move, Kidman says, “It was kind of extraordinary to all be shooting there. The magical quality of the environment I think really helped us. It was like one of those things where you walk in and you go, ‘Is this real?’ We existed in this dream state for almost six months. I’m a huge believer in using what you have to penetrate the show and the performance, and we were just given that. We were given that because of the pandemic. We all just arrived from all different countries and suddenly bonded and had to do this show together.”
‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ premieres on Hulu Wednesday, August 18th.