It may have been way too long of a wait for Karyn Kusama to return to film after her criminally overlooked horror gem Jennifer’s Body, but since she found her way back to the big screen with the critically celebrated micro-budget psychological horror The Invitation, the director has been keeping busy. Not just on TV, with directorial stints on Halt and Catch Fire, Billions, and The Man in the High Castle; Kusama is about to debut her next film, the dark cop drama Destroyer, and today brings the first look at her transformed leading lady Nicole Kidman.
Kidman stars as Erin Bell, an LAPD Detective haunted by her undercover past, who finds herself in the crossfire of her history once again when an old gang leader resurfaces. Speaking with Vanity Fair, Kusama described Kidman’s character as a woman who “wears her ugliness on the outside, all that smallness and bitterness.” Even though “the character is so sort of tragic, and ultimately heroic.” That meant another transformation for Kidman. “We always knew that what we wanted her to look like was a real middle-aged woman with a past that she wears on her face,” Kusama said. With sun damage and sleep deprivation and stress and rage, just in her whole physical body.”
Destroyer reunites Kusama with The Invitation screenwriters Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, but this time the creative trio is leaving behind the social paranoia of suburbia in favor of the criminal underworld. “We’ve all loved bank robbery stories as a place to start, because they almost never go well,” Kusama said. “There’s a kind of particular American madness to thinking you’ll be the one who gets away clean. We were really focusing on characters who weren’t criminal masterminds, but fringe dwellers of American society. Yet they still hold out the hope that they’d beat the system.”
Destroyer also boasts one hell of an ensemble cast, including Sebastian Stan, Toby Kebbell, Tatiana Maslany, Bradley Whitford, Jade Pettyjohn, and Scoot McNairy. The film premieres at the Toronto International Film Festival next moth and arrives in theaters this Christmas, on December 25. Check out the first look image and official synopsis below.
Destroyer follows the moral and existential odyssey of LAPD detective Erin Bell who, as a young cop, was placed undercover with a gang in the California desert with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges many years later, she must work her way back through the remaining members and into her own history with them to finally reckon with the demons that destroyed her past.