How Nicole Kidman's Wild Roar Episode Was Like Her Own Version Of Marvel's What If...?

Following Nicole Kidman’s fifth Oscar nomination for Being the Ricardos, the actress continues to surprise and dazzle with her role choices  – with her recent movie release The Northman, which got rave reviews, and the Apple TV+ anthology series, Roar. She executive produced the latter and stars in one particularly great episode called The Woman Who Ate Photographs, which somewhat feels like an episode of What If...?.

When CinemaBlend spoke to one of the series’ creators, Liz Flahive, she spoke to Nicole Kidman’s personal connection to starring in the particular episode out of the many short stories Roar is based on. In her words: 

The challenge for us was [Kidman] didn’t want to repeat herself. She has done a lot of amazing things. Something that was really appealing to all of us, was her filming something in Australia, her playing a native middle-class Australian, which had her really return to her roots in a way and telling a story about a woman who was her age. I think a lot of how we talked about it was what if Nicole Kidman hadn’t grown up to become Nicole Kidman? What if she had stayed in Australia and had a happy life there but hadn’t done all the extraordinary things she has done?

The Woman Who Ate Photographs follows Nicole Kidman’s Robin, a mother of two living in Australia who is transferring her mother to a retirement home over the course of the episode. She dons short hair and not particularly fashionable or Hollywood-caliber attire. Per the interview, when Kidman was making the episode, she thought of it as an alternative life she would have perhaps would have had if she had not pursued acting. It’s truly Nicole Kidman’s own Marvel's What If…? episode in a lot of ways. Flahive also said this: 

There were a ton of real conversations about that and it was very cool to be able to make that with Kim Gehrig, who was the director on that episode, a really Australian experience for all of them. I think that was really exciting and it’s about a woman at a time of her life that I think Nicole could relate to in terms of mothers and children and that’s where she sort of found herself emotionally.

The oddity of the episode is how Robin finds herself making a habit of literally eating photographs, because when she does, she’s able to relive the memory within them and return to the good days of her childhood, if only for a few moments. The episode is perhaps reflective of how the character is mourning her past when life was much simpler and she didn’t have to deal with her mother’s increasingly aloof mental state. 

During our conversation with Liz Flahive, who previously was the showrunner on Netflix’s cancelled series GLOW, she also spoke to her collaboration with Nicole Kidman as an executive producer on the series. Kidman has been producing much of her work as of late, including Big Little Lies, The Undoing and Nine Perfect Strangers and provided some keen creative input: 

We had a lot of talks with Nicole about the series as a whole and I think the thing she always championed, even when it wasn’t about her episode, were things that were bold, subversive and we hadn’t seen before. When we were pitched everyone the duck episode and people got a little anxious, she was the first one to say, ‘No, that’s why we’re doing this show. You’ve never seen it before. That’s absolutely what we should do. We should stand behind things that are strange and different’.

Roar features a host of incredible talents including Cynthia Erivo, Alison Brie, Issa Rae and Betty Gilpin. Each episode tells another unique story that says something different about the struggles of womanhood. Yes, one of which is about a woman who falls for a duck while another has a character solving her own murder after an untimely death. They're interesting stories, which certainly more than rival the oddities featured in Marvel Studio's first animated series

All eight episodes of Roar are available to stream with an AppleTV+ subscription. Check out our interview with Fivel Stewart, the star of another episode The Girl Who Loved Horses, here on CinemaBlend. 

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.