Not Just the Girl Next Door: 8 Dark Movies Starring Nicole Kidman

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Nicole Kidman’s filmography features more complex roles than just the sweet girl next door. In fact, she often portrays cold, calculating killers and darkly complicated characters. From Dead Calm to Dogville, here are eight of our favorite flicks starring the actress.

1. Birth
Ten years after losing her husband, Anna (Kidman) is ready to marry and open up her heart again. But then she meets a 10-year-old who claims to be the reincarnation of her dead husband. Though her family writes the whole thing off as absurd, he knows every intimate detail about Anna and she can’t help but believe her true love has returned from the other side for her…in the body of a child. It’s twisted, but it works.

2. Dead Calm
One of Kidman’s earliest roles was in this psychological thriller that will have you avoiding open waters at all cost. Rae Ingram (Kidman) and her husband, John (Sam Neill), are a married couple trying to cope with the loss of their child by setting sail on their personal yacht. When they meet a mysterious stranger (Billy Zane) in need of help, they let him on-board only to face dire consequences. Kidman was only 22 when the movie was released, she was already stealing every scene she’s in. Her hatred of Zane’s character practically leaps off the screen.

3. Dogville
This Sundance pic is messed up on so many levels, which is particularly notable for Kidman’s brave performance. Seeking a safe haven from mobsters hunting her down, Grace (Kidman) stumbles upon a town called Dogville where the residents seem nice and allow her to repay them by taking on chores. As time passes, the town learns Grace is wanted for a crime and since harboring a criminal poses a risk to them, they take advantage of her helplessness by abusing and raping her until finally voting to hand her over to the mobsters.

4. Eyes Wide Shut
We’d be remiss not to include Kidman’s role in Stanley Kubrick’s last movie, and boy is it a mindfuck—literally. When Dr. Bill Harford (Tom Cruise) learns his wife, Alice (Kidman) almost cheated on him, he wanders around a mansion where a massive masked orgy is taking place and anything goes: blindfolds, sexual rituals, partner swapping… and someone later ends up dead. It’s unsure what’s real and what’s not here, but the whole thing is downright disturbing.

5. Malice
Tracy (Kidman) is a skilled con artist who’s so hungry for money that she goes as far as letting a doctor (Alec Baldwin) overdose her on fertility drugs and remove her ovary, only to later sue him for malpractice and collect a $20 million settlement. Things get complicated when her husband discovers the plot and tells her that their neighbor, a young boy, is a witness to their corruption. Malice has Kidman at her most calculating.

6. ­­­­Stoker
Kidman shines in this macabre Sundance flick, starring as Evelyn Stoke, an unstable mother who has just lost her husband and is left to care for her daughter, India (Mia Wasikowska). When Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) moves in, India discovers he’s a murderer and is responsible for her father’s demise—a fact Evelyn kept secret in order to watch India suffer.

7. To Die For
With equal doses of atrociousness and comedic flair, this satirical movie portrays a woman who would kill to be famous. And unfortunately, she does exactly that. Fed up with her doting husband, Larry (Matt Dillon), and ready to make it big as a news anchor, Christine (Kidman) seduces one of her students and convinces him to murder her husband. Christine could be a cliche, but Kidman balances the performance to give the character a real vulnerability.

8. The Others
Here, Kidman assumes the role of a British mother of two who lives in the countryside. Her house is old and creaky. Her children have sensitivity to sunlight. And they’re convinced there are ghosts living with them. This all would be the perfect set-up for just another thriller, but there’s a crazy plot twist [SPOLIER]: She actually killed her children after going insane then offed herself, so in reality, they’re all ghosts. Kidman doesn’t give in to standard horror movie hysterics, instead she lends the movie an emotionally layered performance of normal “person” caught in a disturbing situation.

Find out when you can watch The Others on SundanceTV.