Co-star Regina Hall describes Kidman’s acting style as “I met Masha” – she didn’t meet Nicole.
Regina Hall is given the opportunity to play Carmel, a single mom grieving the loss of her husband. Hall joined Kidman for a conversation with about their screen time (while Kidman remained as the character), the experience of filming at remote Byron Bay, Australia and the mental health benefits of microdosing.
This is Nicole’s third project with David E. Kelly. The second was based on a Liane Moriarty novel. Their writing is what do you love?
NICOLE KIDM They are able to create something both entertaining and timely, and have totally different views on the world. Both are great writers and the result is always fascinating. David is an expert on entertainment, both comedy and drama. That’s exactly what Liane does beautifully. The show somehow manages to balance comfort, healing and pain.
Regina: What were you most excited about reading the script?
REGINA HALL It was a great experience to work with Nicole Kidman, and Melissa McCarthy. You often work with people you have seen in movies for so many years. There’s that part of you who loves the work of others. There’s also the artist side of you. Acting is a job where you can never stop learning. It’s a great experience and another opportunity to learn. It was both exciting and frightening. It’s always a good idea to try something that you aren’t sure about.
KIDMAN You are supposed to pull the rug from under you. It was an amazing ride. Regina was a great actress. We would be brokenhearted by her. Regina is an incredible comedian. Everyone knows that. But when Regina breaks your heart, it’s amazing. This woman deserves her own show. This woman is a talented lady.
You have a very contentious relationship with your characters. How did you create your chemistry?
KIDMAN Our characters met — I was Masha and she was Carmel. That’s how they collided.
HALL Masha was the first person I met. Nicole and I only got to know each other after we had wrapped up our celebrations. Nicole was a great mentor. Nicole wrote a monologue of 962 pages on our first day. (Laughs.) Nicole did it differently in every take. Every single thing she did had a different effect on us. You’ll have so many options to react and respond to her. You know that you have many options when the person in charge of this ship is already there. It’s amazing to see — the actor is also watching and becomes one.
KIDMAN It felt like I had [to stay in character] because Masha lives in a very bizarre place and I wanted that place to be all the time. It is actually quite peaceful. It’s a peaceful place to stay with your scene partners. They would also have it — to trust, believe in, get lost in, lean into, and trust. It was a long shoot and I felt like I wanted to party with them. It would have felt actor-y and like we were performing a performance. I didn’t want this.
What was Regina’s relationship like with the other cast members? What was it like to talk about Nicole or Masha when she was not there?
HALL We all thought, every day, that Masha was coming. It informed our characters. It was amazing. We said, “I have my scene today with Masha.” What about yours? “How did it go?” That was quite a feat! “I’m going home early tomorrow because Masha is coming.” “What were you and Masha talking about?” “What was yours like?” It worked much better that way. It became personal.
KIDMAN Jonathan Levine was the director who set it up in this way. “Well, I should go in and meet everyone and rehearse.” He said this about a week before shooting: “You’re not going rehearse.” I will rehearse together with everyone. The first scene will be shot when you come in. We were in Byron Bay so we were basically in a Tranquillum environment. It took a lot of time. It was strange, trippy, and dreamlike.
HALL There was a lot of energy there.
KIDMAN It’s delicious and intoxicating. It’s almost as if you aren’t shooting in L.A. You are not shooting in Hawaii.
HALL This became its own character, Nicole? It’s impossible to imagine it anywhere else.
KIDMAN I’m sorry, but I don’t know if anyone would like to try some alternative therapy. ( Laughs).
This is a great way to answer my next question. The show’s plot revolves around microdosing, which is a hot topic in the medical world. What were your experiences with this type of treatment?
KIDMAN It’s so fascinating what I know now. What are you looking for? ( Laughs.). I first started listening to podcasts on psilocybin and then I began reading… There are obviously many books about the history of it, but then there’s all of the research that David has done. David was a scientist who had a tremendous scientific approach to the matter. It was difficult to comprehend all the ways that Masha used psilocybin and how it was mixed with other chemicals. It’s an extraordinary frontier being explored. Do you want to go in or try it? That’s everybody’s choice. There is a frontier worth exploring.
People who have been completely committed to the treatment and who claim it has changed their lives are among them. There are also people who will not go near the treatment again. But it is worth the storytelling that highlights the scientific advances in that field. Although I don’t have sufficient scientific knowledge to suggest that someone try it, the show doesn’t seem to favor either side. I found this fascinating. It’s all difficult to write. It’s possible to make fun of it. You can also send it up. And you can destroy it with satire. However, I believe that the show is impartial. You can make your own decision. That’s David’s genius.
HALL Yes. Nicole and I did extensive research about my character’s reactions to psychotropics. How does it affect her when she takes a higher dose of psychotropics or microdosing? Masha has big increases. It’s fascinating to me. I’ve also heard from many people about the benefits of microdosing. Nicole is correct that the show does not make fun of it or glorify it. It’s just a story.
KIDMAN Masha uses unconventional methods, but they are a fascinating way to explore healing. Masha’s intentions were pure to me. Other people may have different views, but that was my feeling. This is Liane [Moriarty]. Before I read the book, I had never heard of microdosing. This subculture was totally unknown to me.
Regina stated at the top of their conversation that acting is an opportunity to learn new things. Both of you probably walked away with new knowledge and perhaps a lot more conversation at dinner parties.
KIDMAN Yes, there are a lot of people who come up to me and [whisper], “You’re microdosing right here.” I say, “Come to Masha.” ( Laughs.
Interview edited to be clear and concise.