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A brief history of Nicole Kidman’s iconic wigs

Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz
Boy erased nicole kidman

We have another excellent Nicole Kidman wig to add to the legendary collection.

The first teaser for Bombshell, a film about the Fox News 2017 sexual harassment scandal, was released yesterday. Nicole Kidman plays former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, who filed a lawsuit against then-CEO Roger Ailes (now deceased) alleging that she was fired from her show for refusing his sexual advances. Charlize Theron plays Megyn Kelly, who shortly after Carlson’s suit claimed that she too was harassed by Ailes. Margot Robbie stars as a fictional associate producer who’s believed to be a composite of other real-life Fox News employees who accused Ailes of misconduct.

In addition to pointing out Theron’s uncanny transformation into Kelly, critics were quick to mention that Nicole Kidman is sporting yet another iconic wig.

Kidman, an Oscar winner and frequent nominee, is also renowned for her peerless wig versatility. She wears a different wig in virtually every production she stars in across film and television. Most recently, she donned a fringed ginger number in Big Little Lies, evocative of Scooby Doo’s Daphne:

big little lies nicole kidman

In Bombshell, she’s gone full newscaster, enlisting a frozen blond bob to match Carlson’s. It’s not unlike a similarly parched shell from her role in To Die For (1995), in which she played a weather reporter-turned-murderer.

Nicole Kidman to die for

Kidman in “To Die For” (1995).

These wigs, as Sadaf Ahsan argued in the National Post last year, are integral parts of many of Kidman’s performances, almost acting as supporting actors themselves. In the same way that Meryl Streep uses her glasses as an acting tool, Kidman’s wigs are a conduit into her character: “Time and time again, it’s through her wigs that Kidman enters her roles. The lavish blonde denotes class commentary in everything from the romantic epics Australia and Nine, to the kooky character work in The Paperboy and the actual regality of Grace of Monaco,” Ahsan writes.

As writer Evan Ross Katz noted in his Instagram post on the Bombshell trailer, now is an excellent time to look back at some of the more notable looks throughout the actor’s filmography:

Lush Little Mermaid hair in Moulin Rouge! (2001)

Nicole Kidman Moulin Rouge

Kidman’s silky scarlet (rouge, if you will) wig personifies her role as Satine, a cabaret actress and courtesan in Baz Luhrman’s 2001 musical drama. Jessica Rabbit, but make it boudoir.

A dirty mop in Destroyer (2017)

destroyer nicole kidman

In Destroyer, Kidman wears a dirty, worn-out mop of a wig that’s as gritty as the film’s plot, which follows the existential breakdown of an LAPD detective. Kidman makes it work, but she wasn’t thrilled to talk about it. On the film’s press tour, she was asked by an audience member where she’d rank the wig among the others she has worn. “That’s an awful question,” she replied. “I am shutting that question down.”

Austere pixie in Birth (2004)

nicole kidman birth

In her shortest chop yet, Kidman’s wig in Birth is a perfect complement to her role as a chilly widow drawn to a child who claims he’s her dead husband reincarnated. The Jonathan Glazer film was booed by critics at its 2004 Venice premiere, but one can offer nothing but high praise for Kidman’s ability to pull off altar boy hair.

Beetlejuice mullet in How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2018)

Kidman plays a rockstar alien in this adaptation of the Neil Gaiman story of the same name. Unsurprisingly, she looks exactly like an alien trying to look like a rockstar. It’s probably one of Kidman’s most dreadful wigs, but the look still gets points for its faithfulness to the punk aesthetic.

Peroxide blonde in Boy Erased (2018)

Boy erased nicole kidman

This wig is a bad boxed-dye bleach, a cousin of the Carlson look. Pair it with pearls and Kidman’s convincing Southern accent and the actor nails the preacher’s wife sensibility that the film demands.

Salt-and-pepper ringlets in Top of the Lake: China Girl (2018)

nicole kidman

In addition to its big Helena Bonham-Carter energy, Kidman’s wild gray mane adds an undone quality to her excellent portrayal of a mother plagued by anxiety.

 

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