Nicole Kidman is sitting in a lavish gold parlor, an ornate oriental rug beneath her feet, her legs crossed. Chopsticks rest precariously on a side table to her left. They will not be helping her eat Chinese food.
“I’m Nicole Kidman and I am going to eat a four course meal of bugs,” she says, in a tone so calm and candid she could have just as easily remarked, “I’m Nicole Kidman and I am going to do my laundry.”
Kidman’s feast contains four kinds of micro-livestock, which are not, as I assumed, pocket-sized pigs and cows, but rather, hornworms, mealworms, crickets and grasshoppers. This is part of Vanity Fair‘s series, “Secret Talent Theatre” in which celebrities show off surprising hidden skills (if you’re looking to jump into this video rabbit hole, I would also recommend Oprah describing her trick for cleaning up dog poop and Helen Mirren cracking a whip.)
Is the ability to stomach bugs necessarily a “talent”? Up for debate. However, Nicole Kidman is one of the most talented actresses in the world. She has won an Academy Award, four Golden Globes, two Emmys and a BAFTA. If she says it’s a talent, then it’s a talent, goddammit.
“Just a little side note,” she says, after eating a squirming blue worm. “Two billion people in the world eat bugs, and I’m one of them.”
Nicole Kidman is not going to tolerate your narrow Western ideas about what is and isn’t food. Nicole Kidman is going to eat these bugs, and you are going to watch.
Not only is she going to eat them, she is going to look amazing the entire time. Most people, on their best day, in a perfect pose, would have trouble looking magazine-ready. But when Nicole Kidman is recorded picking up a wriggling mealworm with chopsticks and popping it in her mouth as if it were candy, there isn’t a single still that wouldn’t fit on the cover of Vogue.
A true fan wouldn’t be surprised by Kidman’s tenacity. Her ability to devour a slimy creature with a sly smile is nothing compared to her past feats. This is a woman who won an Australian Film Institute best actress award before age 25. This is a woman who serves as a U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador and who was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia, the country’s highest honor. This is a woman who has raised four children, throughout two marriages, the first of which began when she was only 23, marrying Tom Cruise, a man who later became the most famous member of the Church of Scientology. This is a woman who, when faced with diminishing opportunities for herself and her friends, helped create Big Little Lies, a show that won eight Emmys.
In a 2007 interview with Vanity Fair, Krista Smith calls Kidman “the most culturally solvent actress [she has] ever met.”
This isn’t even the first time she’s eaten a bug on camera. When she worked on her first professional acting job in Bush Christmas at 14 years old, there were bugs involved.
“I was 14, it was shooting out in the bush in Queensland, and I got to eat witchetty grubs,” she said in a 2017 interview with W Magazine. “Do you know what witchetty grubs are? They are worms that live in the earth, and they’re a milky white color, and I eat them in the film.”
It’s hard to pick out the best part of this quote. It’s either when she says she “got” to do it, as if it were a helicopter ride or a trip to Paris, or the part where she thinks there’s a chance the journalist interviewing her would be able to define “witchetty grub.”
Later in the Vanity Fair video, after she has eaten a small handful of fried grasshoppers, Nicole Kidman stares back into the camera.
“Thank you for spending so much time with me and watching me eat bugs, ’til next time,” she says. Everyone on set claps. After only a few minutes of consuming insects, Nicole Kidman has earned applause.