Anatomy of an Emmy-Worthy Scene: The Undoing's Nicole Kidman and Director Susanne Bier Deconstruct Grace's Beachfront Breakdown

In the final scene of The Undoing‘s second episode, Hugh Grant’s Jonathan resurfaces and professes his innocence to Nicole Kidman’s Grace. Below, TVLine Dream Emmy nominee Kidman and Undoing director Susanne Bier break down the incendiary sequence, shot on location on the eastern tip of Long Island, that required the Big Little Lies actress to juggle a myriad of emotions — fear, fury, hysteria — in the span of 90 seconds.

SUSANNE BIER | There’s a half-hour period where the light actually has a blue color. And I decided, very unwisely, [to] shoot that scene [in that tight window]. And it’s a huge, friggin’ emotional scene. So we rehearsed it and we rehearsed it and then we waited for the light to kind of come down and we started shooting. We literally had a half-hour to shoot that whole scene.

NICOLE KIDMAN I was pretty strung out by that stage, [just by] the nature of being in a whole series and the emotional journey that Grace goes on. It was interesting because it was so palpable. Hugh and I were both strung out. So the idea that there was this clock ticking… we just had to jump in and do it. I am very much a performer who goes, “OK, let’s do it. Let’s capture the magic, if there is any.” And that’s what we had to do in that regard. There were some questions about blocking, but once we were off and running we were in it. Susanne is rigorous. She pushes you, which is fantastic, because it [elevates] the quality. And also the location was gorgeous. It was isolated and bare and very Scandinavian in a strange way.

BIER | Here’s the thing about Nicole — she can go on forever. She’s unbelievable. I could have theoretically asked her to do that scene 15 times and she would have delivered an equally strong performance [each time]. But because of that whole crazy endeavor of shooting with the light coming down, I think, as far as I remember, we shot it three times.

KIDMAN | When someone disappears and there are all of these things that they have done to you — the lies — you have so many questions and there’s so much anger. Your whole life is completely ravaged, but [at the same time]… she is in love with him. So the desire for him to be telling the truth. The desire for him to not have done it is the underlying thing with her. To hear him say, “I had an affair but I didn’t do it. I did not kill this woman.” And for her it’s like, “Please let this be true. I’m so furious at you. You have destroyed everything and how dare you have an affair but My God you didn’t kill a person and I didn’t think you did.” Those are the things that are colliding. But then also you betrayed me, you destroyed our life, you destroyed our sons’ life, you are a liar… It’s a cataclysmic collision of emotions and intellect.