Hollywood actress Nicole Kidman returned to Broadway after a massive gap of seventeen years to play Rosalind Franklin, a British scientist, in the Michael Grandage-directed play Photograph 51. It has a run from September 5 to November 21, 2015, at London’s West End Noel Coward Theatre.
What you probably didn’t know is that with this role, the actress is paying tribute to her late father, Dr. Antony Kidman, who passed of a heart attack in Singapore almost one year ago. The emotional Oscar-winning actress said at a public preview, “He knew I was going to do it so I like to think he is somewhere offering support.”
Her father, Dr. Kidman, was a clinical psychologist and according to the Daily Telegraph, the 48-year-old said that it was he who encouraged her to accept the role, as Franklin had a vital part in identifying DNA structure. The publication also reports that the Australian-born actress spoke to the crowd at the theater, explaining how “nervous” she was to return to the West End, but at the same time wanted to bring to light the great work of scientists “who quietly go about their work,” like her father.
The wife of singer Keith Urban and mother of four had spent a lot of her early days with her father in laboratories, which presumably makes this role that much more meaningful to her. He had been visiting Kidman’s younger sister, Antoni, in Singapore when the unfortunate event occurred.
Nicole Kidman has shown her love and reverence for her father in the past as well. She once called the late 75-year-old not only her father, but also a thinker and her friend, confidant, protector, and the ultimate gentleman. “I am one of the lucky ones,” she said at his funeral service. “I am a girl, a woman, raised by an extraordinary man.”
And while Kidman’s return to Broadway has been long overdue, she admitted last year, “Life and other work have conspired to keep me away, but I’m determined to make at least one of the proposals work.”
Photograph 51, by playwright Anna Ziegler, will officially open on September 14, and will highlight the inequalities suffered by women in the field of science. Kidman’s character, Rosalind Franklin, is the actual chemist who oversaw the original discovery of DNA structure, but her role in the breakthrough was often overlooked in historical accounts, with the Nobel Prize being given only to Francis Crick, James Watson, and Maurice Wilkins. Franklin’s work was only formally acknowledged after she died of cancer in 1958.
Gusmaroli, D., “‘This is my way of acknowledging him’: Nicole Kidman pays tribute to her late doctor father who urged her to take on West End role as pioneering scientist,” Daily Mail web site, September 8, 2015.