Though we had a plethora of roles to choose from, these six stood head and shoulders above the rest, each sharing a common thread of magic that allowed these complex even unlikeable characters veracity and charm.
Katrina Stanton, Bangkok Hilton (1989)
Although her turn in Dead Calm was the performance that grabbed the attention of the movie going world (and the heart of Tom Cruise), television drama Bangkok Hilton – released the same year – revealed far more range in the emotional vocabulary of the talented auburn newcomer.
Bangkok Hilton, written and produced by Dead Calm’s Terry Hayes, follows Katrina Stanton from the outback estate where she was born and raised to Sydney and across the globe to Europe in search of the truth about her illegitimate birth. In London the naive heiress falls under the spell of Arkie (Jerome Ehlers), a charismatic photojournalist, who helps her trail her father’s story to Bangkok. On a romantic detour to Goa, Arkie buys and hides a stash of heroin in a camera case which he entrusts to Katrina’s oblivious care…
In 1989 Nicole Kidman was far from the ice cool red carpet queen we recognize today. Only in her early twenties when cast in Bangkok Hilton, her unpolished beauty and wild mess of corkscrew curls stand startlingly out of place in the brutal, oppressive, environment of the prison into which Katrina is flung. Kidman perfectly pitches Katrina as the archetypal ingénue, torn away from the shelter of her former identity, stripped of her possessions, her modesty and eventually her hope. It is a mature and accomplished portrait of a shattered life.
The late, great, Denholm Elliott gives touching support as Katrina’s estranged father Hal. Imprisoned by the Japanese behind the same walls himself 40 years earlier, he battles the ghosts haunting his conscience to find a way to be of use to his child. Their interactions – with Hal posing as a lawyer from the family firm – lend poignancy to the dramatic story and allow Katrina an outlet for the sheer horror of the position she finds herself in. Bangkok Hilton’s Nicole Kidman is a fearless raw talent with a hypnotic screen presence.The Paperboy is out now on Blu-ray and DVD.