Nicole Kidman Big Little Lies

Performer of the Week: Nicole Kidman

THE PERFORMER | Nicole Kidman

THE SHOW | Big Little Lies

THE EPISODE | “Once Bitten” (March 19, 2017)

THE PERFORMANCE | All season long on HBO’s Big Little Lies, Kidman’s character Celeste has projected the perfect façade: perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect life. But in this week’s “Once Bitten,” that façade finally developed a few tiny cracks in it — allowing Kidman to deliver an astonishingly vulnerable performance.

Celeste’s marriage to Perry is volatile, and often violent, and Kidman has brought a fascinating complexity to that, with Celeste defending her husband’s abusive outbursts, and even admitting to being turned on by them. This week, though, Kidman let us see the psychological toll that this takes on Celeste in little moments, like when she nearly jumped out of her skin when a barista touched her shoulder in the coffeeshop.

It all came to a head in a mesmerizing one-on-one scene between Celeste and her marriage therapist: At first, Celeste put on a defiantly cheerful front, insisting that she and Perry are both at fault for the anger in their relationship, and Kidman made Celeste’s denial painful to watch. But as the therapist pushed her (“He hurts you”), Kidman’s porcelain face trembled and then dissolved into tears as Celeste admitted she has feared for her life. Still, Celeste fought for her marriage, and Kidman made us feel Celeste’s aching internal conflict along with her.

HONORABLE MENTION | The moment occurred just as Cookie was finished taking a baseball bat to Lucious’ beloved piano. The fury and rage that had turned her into a one woman wrecking ball started giving way to a deep and aching sadness as she began to grieve the irreparable damage that had been inflicted on her relationship to the man she, against her better judgement, still madly loves. And Taraji P. Henson navigated that emotional transition with all the subtlety and nuance of an actress at the top of her game. “Trying to erase me Lucious?” she whimpered to her ex, her voice cracking. “After all I’ve done for you. I did 17 years [in prison] for this family.” Cookie may be the queen of shade and caustic one-liners, but as Henson reminded us this week, beneath all the bravado and swagger lies a woman with a broken heart.

HONORABLE MENTION | Restrained from running and jumping and fwip!ing, Arrow‘s Stephen Amell this week seized the opportunity to make the most of Oliver’s shackled situation, by delivering one of his most fierce performances to date. As Oliver struggled to get a bead on Adrian Chase’s agenda, to decipher his captor’s call for a “secret” to be shared, Amell registered his alter ego’s frustration. Then, when Chase appeared to snap Evelyn’s neck as punishment for Oliver’s silence, Amell let loose with a bellow we can almost still hear. And while some have scoffed at the “obvious” confession that eventually came forth, Amell sold us on Oliver’s despair in uttering the damning words. Oliver may have looked strong, his musculature and scars laid bare throughout, but Amell made clear the hero had never felt so weak.

HONORABLE MENTION | Whereas Arrow‘s Amell effectively mined darkness, The Flash‘s Grant Gustin immersed himself in lightness and love as Barry and super friend Kara (a buoyant Melissa Benoist) sang and danced their way through a musical mirage erected by the Music Meister. Above and beyond Gustin’s performance as a singer, the Glee grad’s acting was peppered with tiny touches — Barry barely holding back his inner fanboy as “Joe” sang a duet with “Stein,” or cluing in Kara to his new time travel restrictions — that were the very best Easter eggs to find and collect. But yes, it was Gustin’s closing serenade to scene partner Candice Patton, the look of deep love pouring out of his peepers throughout, that brought us to our feet clapping, cheering for an encore.

Which performance knocked your socks off this week? Tell us in Comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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39 Comments
  1. Matt C. says:

    Taraji definitely killed it. Grey’s Anatomy also had some amazing performances this week, particularly Kelly McCreary and Caterina Scorsone. But I suspect next week’s episode will be a big week for Maggie, so TVLine is probably waiting until then.

  2. Bahdjdjs says:

    Big Little Lies is killing it. I love these characters and the show’s style is so defined and well-executed. Reese and Kidman are just enchanting to watch every week.

    • Tim says:

      Yes, they are very good, but it kind of annoys me how little screen time they are giving Zoe Kravitz because her character must somehow be important to the finale?

      • bryce says:

        I agree. Her screen time is kind of an interesting choice. I think it reflects Madeline’s attitude toward her. She’s there, but Madeline would rather not think about her so she only really pops up when she’s forced into Madeline’s consciousness.

      • Chester says:

        It’s like she’s there but not taken seriously as person by anyone there. Then she will be.

        • Garbo says:

          Then again wasn’t that exactly the character on the page in the source material, as well ? Kinda sorta there in the background until the ending ?

          • Chester says:

            because people do not see her. they see surface. then the calm facade cracks.

            there’s a small hint of what is to come in the latest episode, so you have your foreshadow, which is what always happens in real life too.

            In any case, I came on this page to wonder what tvline is going to do next week because it seems that Nicole Kidman won best acting again this week.

      • KCC says:

        Having not read the book I don’t know the importance of any of the characters. In a show featuring Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Zoe Kravitz and Shailene Woodley the screen time seems typical Hollywood hierarchy to me.

    • LAwoman says:

      I am loving Big Little Lies. I wasn’t expecting to like it this much, but the performances are so good and it’s so much more than a murder mystery.

  3. A says:

    Why did TVLine drop recapping Big Little Lies?

  4. kirads09 says:

    I have to give honorable mention to both Frankie Adams (Bobbie Draper) and the always amazing Shohreh Aghdashloo (Chrisjen Avasarala) on the Expanse. Sure, intense questioning scenes have become stock fair. But the way this was done – electric. Adams was subtle yet incredibly powerful as the marine giving (partly false? for lack of better way to explain it) testimony to the UN council. Her complex anger and heartbreak palpable, written all over her face, conflicting with her dedication to her duty and orders. Then Chrisjen seeing (as she does!) through all the BS – I think genuinely fond of Draper – getting to the “you can’t handle the truth” moment. (I kinda love that she does so cursing like a sailor for all her grace, dignity and beauty). If you aren’t watching The Expanse, I genuinely feel sorry for you. One of the best science fiction shows I have ever experienced. Too bad and curious that it seems to get so little love from TV Line.

    • Wordsmith says:

      The Expanse is as good now as Battlestar Galactica in its prime. And Shohreh Aghdashloo is magnificent every week. I agree that she gets more mileage out of each bleeped curse word than most characters can get with an entire monologue (and somehow, it’s still surprising every time.)

  5. Emma says:

    NIcole Kidman was mesmerizing! Every little look and movement. The therapy scene was so suspenseful and nuanced. After the first episode I though Reese would be the highlight of the series but Nicole’s performance is so layered and incredible! It stuck with me after watching.

  6. Tarra says:

    That proposal scene between Barry and Iris was so beautiful. Grant and Candice are just golden to watch on screen. They have the best chemistry.

  7. Lea says:

    I could not agree more with your pick for performer of the week. Nicole Kidman is simply incredible as Celeste and was at her best during last week’s episode.
    Reese is also phenomenal in that series. Their performances have been the highlights of 2017 for me. I thoroughly enjoy Big Little Lies.

  8. Joey Padron says:

    Happy Stephen and Grant got honorable mentions. They both did great in the new episodes of their shows this week.

  9. Brian says:

    Yes, Nicole Kidman was great and so was Taraji.

  10. T.W.S.S. says:

    I’m about to watch The Flash and then the Arrow. Who doesn’t love a roller coaster of emotions?

  11. Cate says:

    Big Little Lies is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to performances. Kidman and Witherspoon surprise me every week with how fantastic they are, but I agree Nicole Kidman was amazing this week – Robin Weigert as the therapist a great scene partner too.

    I know many have stopped watching, but Claire Danes was fabulous in the opening of this week’s Homeland when she was talking about her past with Brody and her daughter.

  12. u says:

    Will Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon be the same Emmy category?

    • u says:

      *in the same…

      • Jorf says:

        I believe Nicole will probably be included in the Supporting actress in a miniseries or tv movie category. Reese will be included in the unbelievably stacked Lead Actress in a miniseries or tv movie category. I honestly don’t know who they’ll nominate for Lead. They’ve got the powerhouse duo of Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon for Feud, Reese for BLL, Oprah Winfrey for the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Lauren Graham for Gilmore Girls: AYITL. The actresses in season 3 of Fargo (Carrie Coon and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, though idk who is lead. Probably Carrie.) Felicity Huffman in American Crime. Maybe they’ll just nominate all of them lol :D

        • Jec says:

          As much as I love Lauren Graham, there is no way she’s getting nominated this year. Her performance was great but AYITL wasn’t. Reese will be in the leading category and probably Nicole in supporting.

  13. cb says:

    glad to see grant gustin get a mention. well deserved. he was making me laugh and cry in that episode.

  14. I love Nichole Kidman, but it’s time to “give it a rest.” Is it “Nicole Kidman Month?” There is something about her everyday!!! BTW, my friend talks way too much and her hair color changes more than your raves of Nichole 😊

  15. I says:

    One of the greatest performances given on television. Kidman is giving a performance for the ages.

  16. William says:

    Taraji deserves another Emmy nomination for that performance. Her body language alone was just breathtaking. The rage, the hurt. Taraji gave her best work to date on the show.

  17. Terri Stansberry says:

    The twins are bullying annabella.

  18. Smith says:

    Cannot seem to get enough of Taraji lately, from hidden figures to empire. She just seem to keep popping up in our faces in powerful roles. Nice one for her

  19. Ron Soltis says:

    Kidman will get an Emmy nod for that scene with the psychiatrist.

  20. After a disappointing season of Thr Affair, I am glad there is a show I could look forward to at the end of the week. Witherspoon’ and Kidman’s performances are both noteworthy and keep me coming back for more but also the caddy and self righteous performance of Renata Klein, Laura Dern, provides a equally antagonistic form for the others to play off of.