Nicole Kidman Reveals How She Ended Up Singing in 'The Undoing' Opening Credits (Exclusive)

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Nicole Kidman in 'The Undoing'
HBO

After first showing off her musical chops in the 2001 jukebox movie musical Moulin Rouge!, Nicole Kidman is putting her voice to good use in 2020, with a lead role in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix adaptation of the Broadway musical The Prom, and with an unexpected return to singing in the HBO thriller The Undoing

The latter is a six-part series adaptation of Jean Hanff Korelitz’s novel, You Should Have Known, in which Kidman stars opposite Hugh Grant as a wealthy married couple, whose life in New York City is upended by a violent death and the many unsettling revelations that follow. Each episode features Kidman singing a cover of “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” a pop standard made famous by the Mamas and the Papas singer Cass Elliot in 1968, over the opening credits.  

While speaking with ET, the Oscar and Emmy-winning actress reveals that director Susanne Bier asked her to sing in the credits. “I was like, ‘Umm, no. Absolutely not. We’re in lockdown and I can’t get to a studio,’” Kidman says of her initial reaction to the filmmaker’s request that came during the coronavirus pandemic that shifted the release of the series from April to October.  

“And then I was like, ‘Well, I actually can because we have one in our house, downstairs,’” Kidman says, referring to a recording studio she and husband Keith Urban have in their Sydney, Australia, home where she was speaking from via Zoom. “So then I went down one afternoon and recorded it and sent it to her and thought it was gonna get rejected, but she ended up using it,” the actress continues, revealing that Urban helped her during the recording process. 

Although Kidman was surprised that Bier used the recording for the series, it was all part of the collaborative process for the actress, who also served as executive producer alongside Bier, who directed the entire series, and David E. Kelley, who wrote this and Big Little Lies. “She had such a strong vision and David E. Kelley had written such a good six hours of television that the two of us were able to join the ride, in a way,” Kidman says of Bier, adding that she saw her role as producer as being able to “facilitate” that their vision was executed onscreen.

To Kidman’s credit, Bier says that the actress was super collaborative. “The thing is that when she’s on set, she’s an actress and she has this uncanny ability to access another character,” the director says. “She arrives on set as Nicole Kidman and she has a cup of tea in her hand. And then she goes into makeup and comes out in costume. And she still has a cup of tea in her hand, but she’s carrying it in a completely different manner. Everything she does changes.”  

Then, in the evening, Bier could call on her and she’s a producer. “We can discuss something and she’s totally supportive,” she continues. 

Meanwhile, Kidman will follow The Undoing with The Prom, marking her first major movie musical since Rob Marshall’s 2009 adaptation of Nine, which featured Fergie, Kate Hudson, Penélope Cruz, among others. (The actress has notably also lent her vocals to the Robbie Williams’ cover of “Somethin’ Stupid” and a medley of songs in the animated movie Happy Feet.)

In the upcoming screen adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway musical, Kidman plays Angie Dickinson, a down-on-her-luck Broadway star who teams up with Dee Dee Allen (Meryl Streep), Barry Glickman (James Corden) and Trent Oliver (Andrew Rannells) to champion a cause that’ll rehabilitate their careers. That cause, as it turns out, is helping a high school lesbian attend her prom after she was banned for wanting to bring another girl as her date. 

The Prom
Netflix

Earlier this year, while the film was in production, Kidman opened up to ET about reuniting with Streep so soon after working together on Big Little Lies season 2. “I am watching Meryl Streep and James Corden do work -- like, I am just going, ‘Whaaaat,’” she gushed. After being told that her other co-star, Keegan-Michael Key, said she was “killing it” on set, Kidman demurred. “No, no, I barely feel like I am holding on as I watch everyone else.” 

While the coronavirus pandemic shut down production on Murphy’s film just days before it was set to wrap, Kidman revealed that she completed her part. “I’d just finished,” she says, “before going on lockdown,” which is when she found time to cover “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”  

The Undoing premieres Sunday, Oct. 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. 

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