Kidman Noses Into Woolf's Clothing

11/18/2002 AT 11:00 AM EST

In her new movie "The Hours," based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning novel, Nicole Kidman proves she is not afraid of Virginia Woolf. Or prosthetic noses.

Kidman, 35, tells PEOPLE that when it came to wearing a prosthetic facial device to play author Virginia Woolf (rendering the actress practically unrecognizable), it was all just part of the job.

"It's all an exploration at the beginning in terms of discovering how she's going to get under my skin, how I'm going to embody her," said Kidman. " It's almost like playing. You play around, and then it finally starts to layer in."

She claims it was not a big decision, though wearing the nose was a big deal. "It was a different nose every day," she said. "They had to make it every day."

The movie, which opens in Los Angeles and New York on Dec. 27, also stars such imposing performers as Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore, Claire Danes and Ed Harris, and some in the media are already declaring "The Hours" a major Oscar contender.

That, of course, didn't stop reporters from asking Kidman the inevitable questions about her divorce last year from Tom Cruise and how her life has changed since then.

"Personally, I have two children, and every choice I make in my personal life is dominated by their presence," she said. "There's a period of intense loneliness associated with your marriage falling apart. ... Basically, I just wanted to crawl up in a ball, and become very, very small. I don't know any other way to explain it. But as my mum always says, 'I think that's enough now' -- I have a mother who says, 'Get up. Get going. Pull yourself together. Life goes on.' "

Tough as that sounds, Kidman concludes, "Actually, it's really good advice."
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