Terry Morrow: Private Nicole Kidman opens up about HBO film 'Hemingway & Gellhorn'

Nicole Kidman plays legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn in a new HBO film airing Monday.

Nicole Kidman plays legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn in a new HBO film airing Monday.

PASADENA, Calif. — Protecting her privacy helps Nicole Kidman be a better actress.

"Part of the reason of being an actor is that you like playing other people's lives, and exploring all the psychologies in that and the emotions," she told reporters recently.

"Having my life be as private and quiet as possible is a way in which then I can go and play characters."

The subject comes up when Kidman is promoting the HBO film "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (9 p.m. Monday), in which she plays the late war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, who had a memorable affair with Ernest Hemingway (Clive Owen). Phillip Kaufman ("The Right Stuff") directs.

At age 44, Kidman has lived a high-profile life for a while now, first as the wife of Tom Cruise and now with her second husband, Keith Urban.

Kidman and Urban make their home in Nashville but aren't known for being seen around town. Sightings of them are somewhat rare in a city full of celebrities.

Though she's had a string of critically acclaimed movies ("The Hours," "Eyes Wide Shut") and box office hits such as "Batman Forever," she tries to keep celebrity from clouding her work.

It isn't easy.

"I like the privacy of my life. And I protect it quite vigilantly," she said.

She's played Virginia Woolf and now Gellhorn. However, Kidman said she'd never want a movie made of her own life.

Gellhorn was inspiring for Kidman because of her strength and burning "bright." She came together with Hemingway under less-than-ideal circumstances but eventually forged a bond that carried them from war correspondents to husband and wife.

Gellhorn is considered one of the greatest war correspondents of the 20th century.

"There's times when I feel the need to play something that inspires me," Kidman says, "and I think Martha inspires me.

"And the same way even playing, say, Virginia Woolf. I learned from playing her. It was kind of a necessity ... in the journey of my career, to find these women ... and tell their stories."

Other highlights for the week of May 27 to June 2. All times Eastern. Listing subject to change. Check local listings:SUNDAY— "The Bob Newhart Show" (10 a.m. Hallmark Channel). The comedy marks its 40th anniversary with a 12-hour marathon.

— "National Memorial Day Concert" (8 p.m. PBS). Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise are the co-hosts. National Symphony Orchestra will perform during the 23rd annual broadcast, airing live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.MONDAY— "One Tree Hill" (10 a.m. SoapNet). An eight-hour marathon looks at the romantic paths of Nathan and Haley.

— "Rags" (8 p.m. Nickelodeon). Keke Palmer stars in this new sitcom in a modern-day rock twist of the Cinderella story.TUESDAY— "The Catalina" (8 p.m. CW). This new reality series follows the employees and guests at a Miami hotel.

— "Hell's Kitchen" (8 p.m. Fox). A new season of contestants face the heat of Chef Gordon Ramsay.

— "Tosh.0" (10 p.m. Comedy Central). Another season of funny — and sometimes painful — web videos commences.

— "Workaholics" (10:30 p.m. Comedy Central). In the season three opener, the guys learn drugs and a business trip are a bad combination.WEDNESDAY— "Dogs in the City" (8 p.m. CW). It's the "Dog Whisperer" skewed to a younger audience.THURSDAY— "Mountain Men" (10 p.m. History). With reality show cameras in tow, a man who has lived off the grid takes a group with him back to the mountains to see if they can survive winter his way.

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