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Reese Witherspoon Serves Spot-On Nicole Kidman Impersonation At AFI Life Achievement Tribute

If Nicole Kidman ever decides to cast her own biopic, she won’t need to search far. At the recent 49th AFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, her close friend and Big Little Lies co-star, delivered a flawless impersonation of the acclaimed actress.

“Most actors wait by a phone to be chosen by a director,” Witherspoon quipped during her speech. “But as an actor, Nicole has always been proactive. Even in her earliest work, she picks her directors.” She hilariously switched from her southern U.S. accent to an impeccable Australian impression, recounting Kidman’s enthusiastic discussions about directors. Witherspoon’s playful mimicry and heartfelt anecdotes earned laughs and admiration, even from Kidman herself.

Reese Witherspoon impersonates friend and ‘Big Little Lies’ co-star Nicole Kidman at the AFI Life Achievement tribute to the Australian actress in Los Angeles.

“And she’s like, ‘But do you see that director?’” said Witherspoon. “‘I mean, it’s incredible. Reese, we must get her. We must!’”

When speaking on how the partnership on Big Little Lies was born Witherspoon shares “Because there’s one thing Nicole knows very very well, that there’s power in collaboration, and there’s even more power in sisterhood”  

Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, and Zoë Kravitz in ‘Big Little Lies’. PHOTO: JENNIFER CLASEN/HBO

The star-studded event featured tributes from fellow Australians Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman, and Cate Blanchett, as well as a tear-jerking speech from Kidman’s husband, Keith Urban (Pass the Kleenex!)

Urban shared a moving story about their early marriage struggles and Kidman’s unwavering support during his rehab stint.

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban attend the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute – Axelle/FilmMagic/Getty Images

“We got married in June 2006 and barely four months into our marriage, my addictions that I had done really nothing about blew our marriage to smithereens and I went into the Betty Ford centre for three months,” Urban began. “Four months into a marriage, and I’m in rehab for three months with no idea what was going to happen to us.”

“If you want to see what love in action really looks like, give that a whirl,” he continued.

“Nic pushed through every negative voice — I’m sure even some of her own — and she chose love. And here we are tonight 18 years later.”

Nicole Kidman is brought to tears by a speech from her husband Keith Urban. (Reuters: Mario Anzouni)

The couple, who share teen daughters Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret, met in January 2005 during an event where Urban got her phone number on a “tiny piece of paper” that he said he carried “in my pocket for well over a week.”

Keith Urban, Sunday Rose Kidman-Urban, Faith Margaret Kidman-Urban, Sybella Hawley, Nicole Kidman, Antonia Kidman and Craig Marran attend the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute in Hollywood, CA, – Axelle/FilmMagic/Getty Images

“The thing about Nic — she loves life,” Urban added. “I’ve actually never met anyone who has such a passion for being alive. She knows the importance of expressing feelings as well. I wasn’t raised like this at all so our girls are very lucky to be learning from you, baby. I’m learning too.”

But it didn’t stop there. Viewers may also have been surprised to see younger actors thanking the Aussie Oscar winner for the boost she gave their fledgling careers.

“What most people don’t know is that when I was making those films, I watched ‘Moulin Rouge’ religiously,” said Zac Efron.

Actor Zac Efron speaks during the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award tribute to Nicole Kidman –  (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File) © Provided by The Associated Press

“I must have seen the film over a hundred times, because it’s there that I found inspiration, and it was there that I found Nicole Kidman.”

In the crime drama The Paperboy, Efron plays a character who obsessively pursues the older Kidman. The two share a sex scene, and other scenes that are even more strangely intimate.

“It was terrifying, and it was thrilling,” Efron said. “And as my character and I were looking for guidance, there she was.”

He concluded, “Nicole, thank you so much. On behalf of the teenager who was so inspired by you on screen, and the man who stands here today proud to be one of your many collaborators, congratulations.”

The tribute gave Kidman a chance to reflect on the nearly 100 films and TV shows she has appeared in, as she stood on the stage where she won her Oscar for playing Virginia Woolf in “The Hours” in 2003.

She thanked by name every director she has worked with, including Gus Van Sant (To Die For), Jane Campion (Portrait of a Lady), Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge), Sofia Coppola (The Beguiled), Yorgos Lanthimos (The Killing of a Sacred Deer), Lars von Trier, (Dogville), Sydney Pollack (The Interpreter) and Stanley Kubrick (Eyes Wide Shut). She teared up when talking about the last two, each of whom died not long after making their final film with her.

Speaking before entering the ceremony, Kidman said the award is a payoff for some of the risks she took in her career. 

“I’ve made so many risky films to the point where people go, ‘you’re actually going to do that movie?’ and I’m like ‘yeah I am,'” she said. 

Starting her career at just 14, Kidman marvelled at the opportunities she’s had to work with talented individuals and play diverse characters. “It is a privilege to make films and glorious to make films and television with the storytellers who allowed me to just run wild,” she said.

“This 14-year-old girl could have never predicted all the talented people she would get to work with and the many different characters she would get to play 😱. So excited to celebrate with so many friends and peers on Saturday with the @AmericanFilmInstitute xx,” she wrote in the caption.

The evening celebrated Kidman’s illustrious career and her contributions to cinema, making her the eleventh woman and only Australian to receive the prestigious AFI Life Achievement Award. Meryl Streep, a former winner and Kidman’s co-star, presented the award, attributing Kidman’s career to her deep love for acting.

Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep share a moment during the 49th AFI Life Achievement Award Tribute Gala. (Reuters: Mario Anzuoni)

“People call it bravery when an actress bares all and leaps off into the unknown and she dives deep into the darker parts of what it is to be a human being. But I don’t think it’s bravery. I think it’s love. I think she just loves it.” Streep said bringing Kidman to tears.

“There’s an enormous amount of luck in my life. But there’s also the most important thing – love. Big, big love. And then, right there, is the love of my life and the loves of my life,” she said as she pointed to her family.

The AFI Life Achievement award “celebrates an individual whose career in motion pictures or television has greatly contributed to the enrichment of American culture,” according to the American Film Institute.

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