18:53 EST, 29 November 2012
19:51 EST, 29 November 2012
Racy role: Nicole Kidman, snapped on the set of film Grace, ‘made Zac Efron a man’
Nicole Kidman has an impressive effect on men’s testosterone levels. Husband Keith Urban began sprouting a beard after starting his relationship with the Academy Award-winning actress.
And Zac Efron said he grew up during the four weeks he worked with Nicole on the wonderfully lurid Southern gothic thriller The Paperboy, in which they have some racy scenes.
Nicole laughed when I mentioned what Efron had told me about working with her.
‘The rite of passage with me. I made him a man. Oh, no!’ she cried, in mock horror.
‘My husband said he started growing a beard since going out with me. He didn’t have much facial hair before, so I hope I bring out the testosterone in them.’
In director Lee Daniel’s The Paperboy, which opens on March 15, Nicole gives a corker of a performance — an awards contender in my book — as Charlotte Bless, a trailer-trash Southern blonde who befriends a death-row inmate played by John Cusack.
Along the way she meets a lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) and his brother (Efron).
In one scene that was much talked about in Cannes and at the Toronto International Film Festival, Nicole’s character visits Cusack in jail and they tease each other to the point of sexual satisfaction.
Later Nicole, wearing a bikini, squats over Efron’s jellyfish-stung body and urinates on him, to ease the pain.
‘It’s the rawest thing I’ve done,’ she said, though she hates the film being defined by what she terms ‘the peeing scene’.
It could also bring a comment or two from her mother, who she said has sometimes rebuked her for her screen choices, though her husband never has.
‘There’s not really a judgment from my husband. But my mum goes “Oh Nicky!” after she’s seen something pretty full on, but she’s done that ever since I was a child. My parents are supportive. They have a sense of humour, and you’ve got to have that. Life’s life, right?’
Rite of passage: Zac Efron, with fellow High School Musical alumni Ashley Tisdale, said he grew up whilst filming with Nicole Kidman
And Nicole agreed that director Daniel’s work can sometimes be ‘erratic and unpredictable’ and added: ‘I like that! I don’t want homogenised.
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‘For me, it said so much about Charlotte. If that’s what Lee wants, and that’s what’s in the script, and that’s what’s required, then I’m not going to step in and censor it as Nicole.
‘I just want to help achieve a vision for a director, and sometimes that’s going to create controversy,’ she told me yesterday, speaking on the phone from the set of the film Princess Grace Of Monaco, where she was shooting scenes with Tim Roth and Frank Langella in Brussels.
She added that it’s important to ‘stay bold and not get scared’, even though she admitted that ‘deep down sometimes I go “Whoa! Where’s this going to take me?!” ’
Behind Charlotte’s tough, obsessive facade Nicole said she found something poignant in The Paperboy.
She also tried to stay in character and keep her Southern accent for the month she filmed in New Orleans.
‘However, on weekends, when I got on a plane home to my children in Nashville, I went home as Mum.’
Julius Caesar was there; so was Mark Antony — and so, too, was that rabble rouser Cassius.
A dish fit for the gods? Well, most of the troupe of Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female version of Shakespeare’s political tragedy Julius Caesar were sitting with me at a table at the London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, and I’m not sure how they’d feel about being called dishy, even though the line is a quote from the play.
All girls: Harriet Walter and Frances Barber in rehearsals for Julius Caesar at Donmar Warehouse
Frances Barber, who plays the title role, explained that the production is set in a prison and the women decide to put on a production of Julius Caesar. ‘And we don’t wear make-up,’ she added.
Ms Barber (pictured with Harriet Walter) arrived at the ceremony with Jenny Jules (Cassius), Cush Jumbo (Mark Antony) and Clare Dunne (Portia). Ms Walter (Brutus) was having a quiet night in.
The play, with music by Gary Yershon, begins previews tonight at the Donmar Warehouse.
‘We’re Caesar’s sisters,’ Ms Jules declared.
Damian Lewis told me he was ‘proud’ of his neat little moustache but couldn’t make up his mind whether he looked more like ‘a Seventies porn star or a World War I ace pilot’.
We were chatting at the Burberry sponsored London Evening Standard Theatre Awards at the Savoy and felt that the porn star option didn’t quite chime with the surroundings.
‘I think looking like Biggles sounds better,’ he joked.
The award-winning actor presented Hattie Morahan with the best actress trophy for her performance in the Young Vic’s production of A Doll’s House.
Other prizes went to Nicholas Hytner and Simon Russell Beale for work at the National Theatre.
Lolita Chakrabarti was named most promising playwright for Red Velvet, in which Adrian Lester gave a spellbinding portrayal of 19th-century thespian Ira Aldridge.
Evgeny Lebedev, the Standard’s owner, bestowed Moscow Art Theatre’s Golden Seagull Award on Judi Dench. Nick Payne’s Constellations, now at the Duke of York’s Theatre, won best play.
Lewis stars opposite Claire Danes in the second series of espionage drama Homeland, a must-see on Sunday night on C4.
I asked if he’ll return for a third series. ‘With the death count the way it’s going, I wouldn’t be too sure,’ he said.
Roger Allam will return to Shakespeare’s Globe next year as Prospero in a production of The Tempest. Meanwhile, he has been filming the first series of Endeavour, the ITV-Mammoth Screen drama about young detective Endeavour Morse (played by Shaun Evans). Allam plays his boss Detective Inspector Fred Thursday.