Daniels tried to push Kidman out of her comfort zone when he asked her to say the N-word during a scene in the movie they are filming; “The Paperboy.”
The film is set in 1970s Florida and is centered around a murder and a journalist. The movie plays around with issues of race and class with Kidman playing the part of an outspoken vixen. In one scene Daniels directed Kidman to call a Black co-star a n*gger but Kidman immediately refused.
While at a press conference at the New York Film Festival, the disagreement resurfaced as Daniels spoke about how surprised he was that Kidman would not say the word. Kidman, visibly looking irritated and replied,
“I didn’t feel like it was right for the character…I have a son who’s African American and I just didn’t feel it was right. It wasn’t right.”
Daniels expressed that Kidman’s refusal to comply with his direction frustrated him and he even told the producer that he was frustrated. The producer reportedly asked Daniels to take into consideration that Kidman had so far been asked to pee on a co-star (Zac Efron), and had also been put in a compromising sexual position so maybe he should go a little easier on her. Daniels backed off.
Another actor on the set, David Oyelowo, observed about Daniels that he “feels it is his job to push you out of your comfort zone; he feels the truth will be accessed” that way.
In the beginning of filming, Kidman is reported to have been taken aback by Daniel’s methods, such as asking her to do her own make-up but soon after she agreed it was the best way to approach the project, saying
“I thought just go with it. I want to be in places I’ve never been before.”
“We’re putting on a play … we’re on the run, we’re on the move.”
Kidman added that she’s at a point in her acting career where a director with an unusual and maybe even too direct an approach was exactly what she wanted, saying
“I want to go home at night and feel discomfort.”