Nicole Kidman and Lulu Wang are up to something. Is there anything more satisfying than seeing your favorites finally link up?
That’s exactly how it must have felt when The Farewell director Wang shared a photo of herself with Kidman via Twitter, announcing that they are working on a project together.
Whatever project these “partners in crime” are collaborating on, the studio they’ve secured has not yet been named, so we’ll likely get these updates in fits and starts until an official declaration is made by the cinematic powers that be.
Until then, who could blame them for not being able to wait to share the news? Even the replies to Wang’s tweet—which include praise from fellow filmmakers and Film Twitter personas alike—are worth following alone.
The announcement of this unnamed project (something that could be developed for film or television, as the medium for whatever story they’re going to tell was not confirmed in the tweet) brings to light a notable trend with Kidman. The actress (and producer) has a track record for lending her star power to vehicles helmed by up-and-coming directors at just the right time. Many a younger filmmaker piecing together their third or fourth “big” project (not their third or fourth consecutive project, but the third or fourth one to be propelled into the cycle of American media hype) has benefited from having Kidman’s name as part of the marquee.
Take Gus Van Sant, for example. His feature debut was the 1995 film Mala Noche, but the first film to begin to move him to auteur stardom was the 1989 drama Drugstore Cowboy.
He followed it up with the successful 1991 film My Own Private Idaho and 1993’s Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, which was critically panned at the time of its release (especially in comparison to the two Van Sant films that came before it). But Kidman entered the filmmaker’s life right on time, going on to star in the 1995 mockumentary-drama To Die For, a film which brought Van Sant back up (and grossed over $21 million). The next film he made was Good Will Hunting in 1997, which has been critically and commercially revered for over two decades.
Consider Lee Daniels as an example: Precious, his second-ever directorial accomplishment, was his first film to receive major positive acclaim, and when Kidman signed on for a lead role in the 2012 drama The Paperboy, audiences were suddenly clamoring to get a peek at the director’s next film. The Paperboy was ultimately met with largely negative reviews, but Kidman nabbed SAG and Golden Globe nominations for her performance, and Daniels returned the next year with Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which made a big splash at awards season.
With John Cameron Mitchell, a director who had been well-known in the underground for his contributions to New Queer Cinema (Shortbus and Hedwig and the Angry Inch), Kidman collaborated on his third film, Rabbit Hole, which brought him to the forefront of the mainstream awards conversation in 2010.
This pattern of Kidman proving herself to be a valuable addition continued with Park Chan-wook (Stoker), Noah Baumbach (Margot at the Wedding), Jay Roach (Bombshell), Robert Eggers (The Northman), and Karyn Kusama (Destroyer).
And to add another lens through which the forthcoming Kidman and Wang collaboration could be viewed, it should be noted that the actress has gone on the record before to say that she pledges to work with a woman director every 18 months to push for gender parity in Hollywood.
She doesn’t limit those projects to film, though. Episodes of Big Little Lies and Top of the Lake were directed by women (Andrea Arnold and Jane Campion, respectively). And every episode of Kidman’s forthcoming HBO series The Undoing will be directed by Susanne Bier. Like clockwork, Kidman is working with Wang, who happens to not only be a rising auteur, but a woman as well.
So, if we take Kidman’s track record of supporting rising filmmakers at crucial points in their careers, we shouldn’t be surprised that she and Wang are cooking something up together for the near future. If only we could just now get another bread crumb of information regarding Wang’s top secret project from Kidman herself.