The Riskiest Performances in Film

Audiences at the 50th New York Film Festival will get an eyeful of Precious director Lee Daniels’ Florida noir The Paperboy tomorrow evening. The film gets a limited release this Friday. Well before its Cannes debut, the filmmaker was promising a multitude of moments in his story — about a reporter who returns to his hometown to investigate a case involving a death row inmate — featuring stars Nicole Kidman, John Cusack, Matthew McConaughey, and Zac Efron “getting down.” The big tease resulted in one of Nicole Kidman’s riskiest performances, which we talk more about past the break. Who else made bold moves in their career? We explore other stars’ riskiest roles, below. Let us know who you’d add to the list.

Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy

Cannes audiences soon found out what director Lee Daniels meant about “getting down,” when they saw Kidman’s spray-tanned, peroxide blonde all tarted up and giving High School Musical star Efron a golden shower. In another scene, Kidman’s character has a Basic Instinct moment. It seemed like a queasily risky part for the Academy Award-winning actress to take on, especially considering the film’s negative “camp” comparisons. Time writer Mary Corliss spoke for many, however, when she reviewed Kidman’s gutsy performance:

“Renouncing the goddess image she has so frequently assumed, her Charlotte is a ripe, feral creature, working all her sexual wiles just for exercise. With a risky mixture of precision and abandon, Kidman splendidly creates a vision of Southern womanhood at its most toxic. It won’t happen, but she deserves the Best Actress prize at this year’s Cannes.”