From The Straits Times    |

Photo: Eric Gaillard / Festival de Cannes 

Nicole Kidman is in the running for the top prize, the Palme d’Or, and plays a fashion and music maven in How To Talk To Girls At Parties in the official selection.

The film, adapted from a Neil Gaiman short story, has Kidman adopting an alien as her protege.

She also shows her trademark mix of hauteur and vulnerability as a pent-up governess in Sofia Coppola’s remake of The Beguiled.

Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the film has Colin Farrell as an injured soldier who seduces Kidman’s charges and drives her wild with desire.

Video: The Beguiled / Facebook

She teams up with the Irish actor again in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, this time as his wife in the story of a surgeon who gets disastrously drawn into the life of a dysfunctional family.

The actress is also the season 2 of BBC’s Top of the Lake drama which features Holly Hunter, Peter Mullan and Elisabeth Moss.

While Kidman, 49, has never won a prize at Cannes, she has long been a festival favourite, taking a string of arthouse roles even after becoming one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars after her split from her first husband, Tom Cruise.

It was one of many reinventions that took the high school dropout from Australian teen movies to the top of her profession.

Even when she was headlining big-budget blockbusters, Kidman made time for whip-smart roles in indie films such as Gus Van Sant’s satire on fame, To Die For.

But Kidman had to wait until 2003 for a best actress Oscar, which she won for her depiction of tortured novelist Virginia Woolf.

Two more nominations have followed, the latest for Lion last year.

Its storyline, of an adopted young man who searches for his long-lost relatives on Google Earth, resonated with Kidman.

She had adopted two children with Cruise and had two more with New Zealand-born country singer Keith Urban. Kidman said she felt an immediate connection with the woman she portrayed, Sue Brierley.

Photo: AFP / Festival de Cannes

‘Already knew’

“I told her a lot about myself, and it was almost like she already knew,” Kidman said.

“I just felt, ever since I was young, that I was going to adopt a child.”

Kidman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, and her family returned to Australia when she was four, where she took to drama, eventually quitting school to study acting.

She first caught the eye as a 14-year-old in the 1983 Australian television film Bush Christmas, later winning plaudits internationally for the thriller Dead Calm in 1989.

Her life was transformed the following year, when she met Cruise.

The two married in 1991, only to split a decade later.

Once one of the highest-paid stars in Hollywood, Kidman took a step back from acting after falling for Urban. They married in 2006.

But not even an unfortunate brush with Botox could stop her coming back.

Photo: FDC / M. Petit / Festival de Cannes

She was back to her best in the low-budget Rabbit Hole in 2011, which won her another Oscar nod.

Like many top actors and directors, Kidman has been drawn by the lure of top-drawer television series, winning plaudits for her roles in Hemingway & Gellhorn and, most recently, Big Little Lies.

She will also be on the red carpet for the fourth time at Cannes for a special screening of her friend Jane Campion’s second season of Top Of The Lake, in which Kidman is almost unrecognisable as a foil to Elisabeth Moss’ small-town detective. – AFP