Nevermind the Botox

Is being plumped up and smoothed flat preventing some actresses in their 40s from fulfilling their true potential, asks Anna Coogan

Anna Coogan

HOLLYWOOD star Nicole Kidman’s recent admission that she has used Botox surprised nobody.

The Aussie actress said: “I’ve tried a lot of things but apart from working out and a good diet most things don’t help. I even tried Botox but I didn’t like how my face looked afterwards. Now I don’t use it anymore — and I can move my forehead again.”

The Oscar-winning actress (43) doesn’t seem to have had a natural facial expression since the start of the global credit crisis. And a couple of years ago it was reported that a cosmetic surgeon had blasted doctors for giving Kidman so much Botox, claiming her face was giving the cosmetic industry a bad name.

Kidman scooped an Oscar in 2002 playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours and, after splitting from Tom Cruise, appeared to be working harder than ever making such films as Cold Mountain and The Stepford Wives. It's likely the ambitious star wants another shot at the Academy Awards, and has decided that her frozen face is holding her back.


If Kidman looked at this year's nominations for leading actress at the Academy Awards — where three out of five nominees are over 40 — and studied the faces of her industry rivals, she will have seen that the actresses getting good roles, and the thumbs up for their performances, are ageing gracefully - at least on the face of it.

It was fellow actress Sharon Stone who paid Meryl Streep a seemingly odd compliment last year when she said that Streep “looked like an unmade bed”. Yet we got the gist of her remark: Streep’s resistance to the frozen-face look is one reason she is getting a lot of work in Hollywood as a mature actress. At the age of 61, Steep's recent films include Mamma Mia!, Doubt and It’s Complicated, and she has a filming schedule which younger actresses would sell their grannies for.

Basic Instinct actress Stone said, “I think that’s why Meryl Streep is working so much, because she looks like a woman we can all relate to. I look at her and I think, ‘I’m chasing my kids, I’ve moved my parents in with me, I’m coping with food spills — that looks like me in real life.'

Kidman may have thought something similar seeing Streep nominated for an Oscar last year for her role of Julia Child, the American chef, author and TV personality whose story is told in the popular film Julie and Julia. Streep’s lack of vanity allowed her to be made to look taller than anyone else on screen and to wear unflattering hats.

It may even have reminded Kidman of her own Oscar win for which she had to wear a prosthetic nose. It’s hard to imagine the actress playing her Virginia Woolf in recent times, as a Botox look wouldn’t translate very well to a drama set in the beginning of the 20th century.

Joining Streep in last year’s Oscar nominations line-up was 65-year-old Helen Mirren, who was nominated for best actress for her role as Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s wife, Sofya, in the film The Last Station.

Mirren looks beautiful in the role, and she wouldn’t have been able to pull off the part of a Russian matriarch without the furrows between her brow and crows lines around her eyes.


Last year’s Oscar winner, Sandra Bullock (46), is closer in age to Kidman, and while there is no knowing if she has had cosmetic work done, in recent times she has looked even more plumped up and smoothed out than Kidman. Bullock won the best actress Oscar for her role of Leigh Anne Tuohy in The Blind Side, the true story of a middle-class American woman who takes in a homeless teenage African-American, who turns out to be a talented footballer.

If Kidman has an eye on the ultimate trophy in Hollywood, it's likely she has registered that her competition not only comes from younger and fresher-looking actresses, but older actresses who have retained a natural-looking appearance.

A naturally ageing face allows them to emote on screen, and to take on roles which defy glamour.

In fact, could cutting down on excessive cosmetic work be the best move Kidman can make?