Actors on Actors

By Birnbaum, Debra | Variety, June 6, 2017 | Go to article overview

Actors on Actors


Birnbaum, Debra, Variety


We always strive for diversity on our Actors on Actors covers, and this year, we admit it. We failed: Men are woefully underrepresented.

Five of our cover stars are women: Nicole Kidman, Thandie Newton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Oprah Winfrey. It falls to Ewan McGregor to represent for his gender.

It’s a reflection not as much of our editorial choices as it is of this exceptional TV season - women were an undeniable force when it came to making their mark on the screen.

These women - and the dozens more they represent - herald a remarkable moment in television. Kidman, along with Reese Witherspoon, toplined a cast of fierce mothers with devastating secrets in HBO’s “Big Little Lies.” Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon took no prisoners as they reenacted Joan Crawford and Bette Davis’ infamous “Feud” for FX. Even a 13-year-old - newcomer Millie Bobby Brown - showed the boys who’s boss in Netflix’s runaway hit “Stranger Things.”

Let’s declare this the year of #EmmysSoFemale.

“Television has changed so much, even in the last 10 years, especially for women,” says Michelle Pfeiffer, who returns to acting in HBO’s “The Wizard of Lies.” “It’s such an amazing place.”

Indeed.

- Debra Birnbaum

EWAN McGREGOR Fargo + NICOLE KIDMAN Big Little Lies

Nicole Kidman: Do you see that it’s very different doing film and television?

Ewan McGregor: No, I think it’s the same. I just think it’s more satisfying doing television now because I’ve been doing films for 25 years or something. I find that the waiting to work is just intolerable nowadays. And in television, you don’t wait very much because you have to do so much in a day. And I like that. I like the pace of it very much. What do you think about it?

Kidman: I don’t see anything different when I’m working on “Big Little Lies” versus working on “Lion” or “[The Killing of a] Sacred Deer” or some sort of film I’ve done recently. The thing I love about television is that you are in people’s lives regularly. And the connection that way is intense, and it makes me feel very much a part of the world - far more connected to the world than in a film.

McGregor: With “Big Little Lies,” you’d never have gotten that cast in a TV show 10 years ago.

Kidman: I’m not sure when it turned. I think it was probably when Matthew [McConaughey] and Woody [Harrelson] did “True Detective,” right? Everyone went ...

Kidman and McGregor (in unison): Oh!

McGregor: That’s right. That’s right.

Kidman: But it’s also awesome that now there are more opportunities. ... A decade ago, there wasn’t enough work, right? Because it was just very much film, and then you would go to television as another resort. But now, it’s all mixed in together, and you have exquisite performances and storytelling in many different mediums. I love that.

McGregor: There are so many platforms for it to be seen on now.

Kidman: I have so many talented friends that now go, “Oh, wow. There’s hope. I can get this. I can do that. I can produce this myself.” So much of it is just giving talented people a chance. . But I’m interested in auteurs. I’m interested in filmmakers. And that’s probably the hardest thing - having them be interested in working with you. So much of being an actor is being on the receiving end of what you get considered for. ... And always trying to break through and say, “Give me a chance.”

McGregor: It’s true, the business has got a very small imagination. It totally puts people in boxes. And you’ve never allowed them to do that.

Kidman: And diversity is being able to say, “I want to play all different cultures, people, ideas.” But I need a visionary. I need somebody who’s going to be able to lead it. But see, you’ve directed. I’ve never directed.

McGregor: I put a solid 18 months of my life into making a film that I think is a very good film, and I’m very proud of.

Kidman: Yeah, “American Pastoral. …

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