Nicole Kidman: "I told Special Ops: Lioness creator he had to write me a role!"

Nicole Kidman in Special Ops: Lioness
Nicole Kidman plays Head of the Lioness program, Kaitlyn Meade. (Image credit: Paramount+)

When Taylor Sheridan asked Nicole Kidman to join his latest project Special Ops: Lioness as an executive producer, she jumped at the chance.

Sheridan's previous TV writing credits include Tulsa King and Yellowstone, while he also penned acclaimed hitman movie Sicario, so the Oscar-winning star knew his new big-budget counter-terrorism thriller could prove a hit. 

But as soon as Kidman saw the script of Paramount+'s new 10-part series, the Big Little Lies actor realised immediately that she wouldn't be satisfied with just a role behind the camera!

Based on a real-life military program, Special Ops: Lioness follows a young Marine, Cruz Maneolos (Laysla De Oliveira), whose mission is to befriend the daughter of a billionaire with ties to terrorism so the CIA can bring down his organization.

Under the watchful eye of Joe (Zoe Saldana, Avatar, Avengers: Endgame), an experienced leader of the Lioness program, Cruz takes viewers on an exciting and psychological journey through life in a unit charged with thwarting the next 9/11. 

Yet despite its potential, Kidman felt this tale of women in the vanguard of the War on Terror was missing something...

"I came in as a producer," said Kidman when we spoke to her at a recent press launch for the drama. "And I thought, maybe Taylor can write a role for me to support these two women so that we can really have women represented in all of the areas of the Lioness program."

Sheridan duly obliged and created the role of Kaitlyn Meade, a senior CIA executive who oversees the Lioness program. 

Special Ops: Lioness

Laysla De Oliveira (left), Zoe Saldana (centre) and Nicole Kidman star. (Image credit: Paramount+)

"Kaitlyn works in the CIA in an office, but I was in the field and Joe was one of the first operatives she trained," explains Nicole. 

"She and all the other characters are defined by their decision-making and they make calls that affect a huge amount of people and they make them very fast and often with no sleep. So their emotional ability to compartmentalize and operate under enormous stress is really fascinating...

"I love playing the smartest person in the room and I think Kaitlyn is the smartest person in the world, she sees things ahead of time and knows how they’ll play out."

With Michael Kelly (House of Cards, Jack Ryan) who plays CIA Deputy Director Byron Westfield and Oscar-winner, Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves) who plays U.S. Secretary of State Edwin Mullins, the show boasts an impressive cast.

Yet Kidman is keen to highlight that while Special Ops: Lioness is full of high-octane action, it also takes viewers away from the frontline to examine the effects a life in such environments can have on a person.

"It’s an intense look at the world of espionage and there’s an enormous amount of action, so you have to hold tight and be in for the ride," she told us. 

"But there's also that intense emotional drama behind the scenes as well. We’ve seen these agents in the field on our screens before, but you don't actually usually get to go 'Okay, now you get to open the door and come into your living room and your bedroom to explore who you actually are!'"

Special Ops: Lioness debuts on Paramount Plus on Sunday, July 23.

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.