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SAG Awards 2013: Nicole Kidman in 'The Paperboy' still shocking

December 12, 2012|By Mark Olsen
  • Nicole Kidman as Charlotte Bless in "The Paperboy," a role for which she earned a SAG award nomination.
Nicole Kidman as Charlotte Bless in "The Paperboy," a role for… (Millennium Entertainment )

Among the biggest surprises in the Screen Actors Guild nominations Wednesday morning was Nicole Kidman’s best supporting actress nod for the little-seen movie “The Paperboy.”  In the film, set in late-1960s Florida, Kidman plays Charlotte Bless, a mess of short skirts, tight pants, tall hair and smudgy eyeliner, who becomes involved in a dangerous romantic entanglement with a man jailed for murder (John Cusack).

Kidman has long been notable for her bold choices in roles. But her trashy turn in “The Paperboy” seems particularly at odds with her image both as a fashion icon and a dedicated wife and mother living a quiet life outside Nashville. It's also a significant contrast with her next project -- she's currently filming a movie in which she plays Grace Kelly.

“The Paperboy” is an adaptation of the 1995 novel by Pete Dexter, written for the screen and directed by Lee Daniels as a follow-up to his award-winning “Precious.” After its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in May, "The Paperboy" grossed less than $1 million since its U.S. release in early October and holds a rather shockingly low 39% fresh score on the Rotten Tomatoes review index site.

FULL COVERAGE: SAG Awards 2013 | PHOTOS: 2013 SAG Award nominees

The film’s marquee scene of talking-point weirdness is one in which Kidman’s character urinates on the face of a character played by teen heartthrob Zac Efron to save him from a jellyfish sting. Yet that overlooks the arguably more unsettling scene in which she and Cusack engage in what has been described as “telepathic sex” while a room full of others look on.

Whether SAG voters responded to the film as camp or took it at face value, they also were responding to a not-so-stealth campaign on Kidman’s behalf. Screeners for “The Paperboy” were sent out widely, with Kidman being the only talent named on the box, not Matthew McConaughey, Efron, Cusack or Daniels. She made a few Q&A appearances on behalf of the film in Los Angeles and made herself available for interviews from Europe, where she is filming “Grace of Monaco.”

Kidman also was recognized Wednesday morning for her work in the television movie “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” bringing her lifetime total of SAG noms to seven, including her little-seen turn in the 2010 drama “Rabbit Hole.” Say what you will about “The Paperboy,” her hot-blooded, full-throttle performance in the film seems emblematic of something the actress said to Times critic Kenneth Turan following the film’s premiere in competition this year at Cannes: “I'm not interested in being safe, and I'm willing to fail because of that.”

ALSO:

Cannes 2012: Nicole Kidman is 'not interested in being safe'

'Paperboy' director Lee Daniels says his work is 'sort of deep'

Follow Mark Olsen on Twitter: @IndieFocus

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