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Liane Moriarty, the author of the wildly successful novel-come-television show Big Little Lies, had one request when Nicole Kidman attempted to talk her into optioning her book. “You must play Celeste,” Moriarty told the 49-year-old actress.
Kidman agreed and we now know her now as the retired lawyer and mother-of-two young children who is married to Perry (played by Alexander Skarsgard). But while the relationship may be the envy of her friends, behind closed doors, it’s far from perfect. In fact, it’s dangerous.
“I’ve been reading articles that people have sent me that say they are glad this has started a discussion,” Kidman recently said. “You have domestic violence counsellors who are analysing the relationship and saying how authentic it is just because he’s capable of falling into his knees and crying and apologising and saying he’s going to change. He’s a mix of control and possessiveness and shame and repentance. It’s a very dangerous and toxic relationship, but as they both like to say they love each other.”
So real were the scenes, Kidman would actually come home with bruises on her body which horrified her real life husband Keith Urban. “I didn’t realise how much of it penetrated me,” Kidman continued. “I would go home at night sometimes and be in a lot of pain, and I had to take things like Advil because I was being thrown around physically. I was really bruised. At one point Keith was like ‘I’m going to take a photo of your back because it’s covered in deep, massive bruises.’ He was devastated seeing it”.
Those who have read the book will know Celeste visits a counsellor alone but in the show, Perry comes with her, driving home the very real and complicated mess of a domestic abuser who wants to change. It’s disturbing to watch but also very important this conversation is brought to the forefront of the social conversation.
Support is always available. Call Domestic Violence NSW on 1800 65 64 63 (24 hours) to confidentially speak to a counsellor. Or visit domesticviolence.nsw.gov.au