Meryl Streep Reveals Nicole Kidman Went Skinny-Dipping

Before filming Big Little Lies, Meryl Streep learned a surprising fact about costar Nicole Kidman.

“Reese [Witherspoon] told me the very first night we were up in Monterey, before we started shooting, she said, ‘You know what she does?’” Streep, 74, recalled at the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award Gala on Saturday, April 27. “I said, ‘No, Nicole?’ She says, ‘Yeah, you know what she does? She goes out at 5, before dawn, and she goes skinny-dipping behind the hotel in the ocean.’ I glanced at Nicole and I said, ‘Are you teasing me? The Pacific is like 48 degrees in March.’ Nicole said, ‘Yeah! I adore it!'”

Streep, who presented Kidman, 56, with the honor at the Los Angeles gala, exclaimed that her friend is “a wild mongrel talent.”

“You’re like a mustang, a workhorse, and a champion racer all in one, but one whose spirit, they’ll never break. Never. The range of your work is remarkable. Your catalog of accomplishments and roles and good actions in the world would take a normal person three lifetimes to achieve,” Streep said. “Your life and your resume challenges everything we know about how many hours there are in the day and how many places a woman can be at one time. It’s hard not to covet Nicole, but it’s also impossible not to be in awe of her.”

Meryl Streep Was Traumatized Watching Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies

Streep praised Kidman’s acting skill set after witnessing it during season 2 of Big Little Lies, which aired in 2019. “When an actress bares all and leaps off into the unknown, she dives deep into the darker parts of what it is to be a human being,” Streep said. “But I don’t think it’s bravery. I assume it’s affection. I believe she just adores it. And I believe that’s the finest attribute an actor can have — that balance of appetite and inquiry and audacity. You have that, baby.”

Streep joined the star-studded ensemble of Kidman, Witherspoon, 48, Shailene Woodley, Zoë Kravitz and Laura Dern after season 1 of the successful HBO series. Streep played Mary Louise White, the mother-in-law of Kidman’s Celeste and mourning parent of Perry (Alexander Skarsgård), who was assassinated in the first season.

After accepting the role, Streep confessed that she didn’t even read the script. “[My agent] said, ‘There’s a part that they wrote with you in mind because they called her Mary Louise.’ … I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it,’” she explained during a New York City panel discussion in 2019. “He said, ‘Don’t you want to read it?’ I said, ‘No.’ It was the finest thing on TV. It really was, that first season.”