The Beguiled opens today and the film marks another disturbing performance by Nicole Kidman. It also got us thinking about Kidman's career and her fearless pursuit of truth onscreen. She can do it all. The Australian star has always had immense talent, but it's her risk-taking abilities that really separates her.
Over the course of her 34-year acting career, Kidman has played every kind of character in just about every genre. She's even been in a comic book movie (Batman Forever). The Oscar winner and four-time nominee usually defaults to more intellectual fare, but that doesn't mean she's uninterested in the darker roles out there. As mentioned above, Kidman has a history of portraying disturbed characters onscreen. She's played villains a number of times, usually in family movies (The Golden Compass, Paddington), but we're looking for characters who are actually disturbing, not just evil.
Our hunt for the most disturbing Kidman roles comes with a **SPOILER** alert. Some of the roles below are described in detail so be warned. These are the five most disturbing Nicole Kidman performances.
1. Suzanne Stone - To Die For (1995)
Suzanne Stone is loosely based on Pamela Smart, the housewife who hired high school kids to murder her husband in 1990. Stone does the same in To Die For. She begins an affair with a high school student (Joaquin Phoenix) and gradually convinces him to murder her husband with some help from his friends. She convinces the boy she's the victim of spousal abuse, but all Suzanne really wants is to be free and famous.
2. Tracy Safian - Malice (1993)
Tracy seems like a squeaky-clean newlywed for most of Malice, but her intentions are much more sinister. She's a con woman who marries an unsuspecting professor, Andy (Bill Pullman), who helps her through her infertility problems. But Tracy doesn't have any problems. She's been taking injections from her corrupt doctor partner (Alec Baldwin) to develop ovarian cysts. The end game is a lawsuit payout, but Andy discovers her lies and sets her up by telling her the boy next door will testify if anything happens to him. Tracy then goes to murder the boy, but is tricked again and eventually, arrested. Nice girl.
3. Anna - Birth (2004)
The psychology in this film is baffling. Kidman plays Anna, a widow who lost her husband, Sean, far too young. Years later, Anna is set to remarry, but a strange young boy shows up and tells her he's Sean reincarnated. Anna is dismissive obviously, but this new Sean knows everything about her and, gradually, Anna is convinced the boy is her husband. She kisses the little boy in the film to amp up the disturbing factor, but she also falls in love with him. Even after young Sean admits he can't be her husband, she still believes in him.
4. Charlotte Bless - The Paperboy (2012)
The rumors about this role are true. Kidman urinates on Zac Efron in this movie, although it happens in a fairly innocuous context. Jack (Efron) is stung by jellyfish while swimming at the beach and Charlotte (Kidman) gives him the only medicine she knows about. But, that's not the only reason Charlotte Bless is one of Nicole Kidman's most disturbing characters. She's the pen pal girlfriend of death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter (John Cusack), a true psychopath. When the two meet for the first time in the movie, they masturbate to one another without touching in a room full of people.
5. Martha Farnsworth - The Beguiled (2017)
The headmistress of a small girls' school in Civil War-era Virginia, Martha allows a wounded union soldier into her school to recuperate. The soldier immediately becomes the talk of the students and each female develops a bond with him. Martha sees the soldier as a solution to her carnal desires. She wants him to sweep her off her feet so they can be together, but the soldier declines her advances. Perhaps in retaliation, perhaps because he actually needs it, Martha amputates the solider's leg. Either way, his reaction is less than positive and it becomes increasingly clear to Martha that she and the girls must kill him.