'N' is for no as Paperboy pushes Kidman to limit

DAY one shooting her new movie The Paperboy, Nicole Kidman had to bend over a pink washing machine in a graphic sex scene with John Cusack.

Day two she urinated on Zac Efron (or rather his character, in a scene where she treats a jellyfish sting). Day three she had ''telepathic sex'' with a prison inmate.

And then she was asked to say the N-word. And that's when she drew the line. ''I just didn't feel it was right for the character,'' Kidman said. ''And obviously I have a son who's African-American. It's just something that wasn't right. It wasn't right.''

Kidman has insisted on finding roles that are complex, bold and demanding.

In The Paperboy, a sexually and racially charged film noir based on a 1995 novel by Pete Dexter and set in the swampy backwaters of 1960s Florida, Kidman plays a wild ''death-row groupie'' who writes love letters to jail inmates and is engaged to a condemned murderer (played by Cusack).

Yesterday, at the New York Film Festival, she was honoured for her ''complex, bold and demanding'' roles, such as the The Paperboy, which divided critics at Cannes.

''Nicole Kidman is one of film's finest contemporary actresses,'' the festival director, Richard Pena, said.

''We are excited to honour her with a tribute at the New York Film Festival.''

Lee Daniels, director of The Paperboy, persuaded Kidman to gain seven kilograms for the role, telling her ''I want your butt jiggling''.

Kidman said she was in a place in her career where she wanted to test her limits.

''I'm now 45 years old and I've worked a lot with many different directors in many different places and experienced so many things and I just want to push myself,'' she said.

''I want to be in places that I haven't been before and I want to be uncomfortable in those places sometimes. I want to go home at night and feel discomfort at times and feel challenged and feel ripped open, and it's very, very hard to find those roles.

''I don't want to get into a place at this stage of my life when I'm running scared. I'd much prefer to be pushing through the next few decades giving it all I've got.''

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