If, as a ‘superstar’ in commodity culture, Kidman is very much American, in these films d’auteur she draws on her strangerhood, the ‘otherness’ in her experience, that is more European. Just what do I mean? Let me quote Julia Kristeva: ‘Who am I?’ is a question to which the best answer, European, is obviously not certitude, but the love of the question mark.’ It is Kidman’s ‘love of the question mark’ that drew her to these ‘outside’ directors. Indeed, despite being a commodity star, despite her wealth of experience, as an actress she has remained uncorrupted in her feeling. Her attitude is one of humility, a fruitful attitude best described by director Peter Brook (in response to a request for advice for young actors): ‘If you’re just playing an idiot, if you’re playing a witless cretin, that witless cretin is more magnificently witless and more cretinously cretin than you can ever be. If you once recognize this, then there is something you can work on, continually, because you realize that there is a stretch of your body, of your understanding, of your imagination, of your feelings, to find something that is beyond your natural range, and that creates a tension and a friction that in the end can produce discovery’ (Between Two Silences: Talking with Peter Brook, pp.67-68).
Let us now consider how Kidman’s art, how her quest for ‘discovery’, has, despite her being an ‘insider’, served these three ‘outsider’ films.