Nicole Kidman's performance in HBO's "Big Little Lies" continues to have an immense impact, both online and in her own home.
On the show, Kidman plays successful mother, wife, and former-lawyer named Celeste Wright. She's envied by her peers for her seemingly deep, romantic relationship with her younger husband, Perry. However, what her friends do not know is that Celeste is living in a physically and psychologically abusive relationship.
“There’s enormous amount of this in the world, it’s insidious, it’s not understood, it’s very aligned with shame and secrecy and obviously pain and sacrifice and blame,” Kidman said in a recent interview with Vogue.
The role was physically and emotionally grueling to take on, Kidman said, recounting an incident in which her husband, Keith Urban, noticed the bruises she had acquired shooting scenes of abuse.
“He was devastated seeing it, but then he would say, “But I have an artist wife!” He knows that’s how I work,” Kidman told Vogue.
Urban isn't the only person impacted by Kidman's performance.
"Big Little Lies" has been applauded for showing the intricate psychological damage of abuse and exploring the barriers that stand in the way of leaving an abusive relationship. On average, 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute, equaling more than 10 million abuse victims every year in the U.S. alone, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Too often, the question comes up from the outside, “why doesn’t he/she just leave?” The truth is that abusive relationships are rarely two-dimensional, and many barriers stand in the way of abuse victims who wish to remove themselves from an unsafe relationship.
“It’s the way in which Celeste has to unravel herself. What is so important for her is that when she goes to seek help she doesn’t want the relationship to be destroyed, she just wants it to be fixed,” Kidman told Vogue. “That’s where it starts, and then slowly through this extraordinary therapist — who immediately knows the minute she sees them as a couple what’s going on — she knows it’s going to be a very hard road. Celeste is living in a very dangerous place.”
Kidman plays opposite Alexander Skarsgard, who depicts Perry as young, educated, charming, and seemingly devoted to his family. In scenes of abuse, the couple often goes from a normal conversation, to a violent episode, to sex within a matter of minutes, showing the uneven and irregular power dynamic common in many abusive relationships.
“You have domestic violence counselors who are analyzing the relationship and saying how authentic it is just because he’s capable of falling into his knees and crying and apologizing and saying he’s going to change,” Kidman said. “He’s a mix of control and possessiveness and shame and repentance.”
If you or someone you know has experienced domestic abuse call The National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for assistance, which is available 24/7.