Pregnant Nicole Kidman turned down Oscar winning role in The Reader over concerns the harrowing themes would 'penetrate' her unborn baby

It was the role that won Kate Winslet her Academy Award.

And as Nicole Kidman's latest film is panned by critics, the actress reveals she turned down the lead in acclaimed 2008 Holocaust drama The Reader, over concerns for the welfare of her unborn child.

Pregnant at the time with her first biological child Sunday Rose, the 46-year-old star confessed she was afraid the harrowing themes would have a worrying impact.

'It would penetrate my baby': Nicole Kidman reveals she turned down the lead role in acclaimed 2008 drama The Reader while pregnant with daughter Sunday Rose over concerns the film's harrowing themes would have an impact her unborn child

'The way I work, it would penetrate my baby,' she told Mail On Sunday.

'I got pregnant and I was meant to do The Reader. And they said, "Oh can you still do it?" But I cannot work pregnant.

'I know now what I probably didn't know in my 20s. I would absolutely know now that I would always choose the sanctity and sacredness of my family, and if that was ever in jeopardy, no question.'

The Moulin Rouge star made a glamorous appearance at the Cannes Film Festival and was forced to defend her latest Hollywood endeavour Grace Of Monaco, which premiered as the opening film.

Critically acclaimed: After Kidman turned down the starring role as Hanna Schmitt, Kate Winslet was cast and won an Oscar for Best Actress

'I get why the children are upset,' she said at a press conference, 'I have great respect and regard for their mother. It's not meant to be a biopic.

'I certainly did my best to honour everything that was real and truthful in it.'

Ahead of her red carpet appearance Kidman admitted she was concerned about the film's reception but also said she could identify with a woman trying to life a normal life in a 'gilded cage'.

She said: 'I was nervous, because I am always nervous, but at the same time it was nice when someone was finally embracing it [the film] because there has been an enormous amount of controversy.

Grace Of Monaco has been dogged by controversy ever since it began shooting.

Grace Kelly's son Prince Albert, who is the current ruler of Monaco, and his sisters Princesses Stephanie and Caroline have dismissed it as 'needlessly glamorised' and 'historically inaccurate'.

Disappointing reception: The actress, 46, made a glamorous appearance at the Cannes Film Festival last week where her latest film Grace Of Monaco was panned critics

Flop: Grace Of Monaco has been panned by critics who call it historically inaccurate and overly glamorised

Even Olivier Dahan, the film's acclaimed French director, has distanced himself from the final cut of the movie which he insists is the work of the film's distributor Harvey Weinstein.

While Kidman will take comfort from the fact that her own performance has attracted some favourable reviews, there is no escaping the hostile reaction to the 'lamentable' script.

One critic described the end product as so wooden 'it is a fire hazard'.

But Kidman, whose other big-screen credits include Cold Mountain, The Others and Eyes Wide Shut, insists that as the film's star she can't get involved in the rights and wrongs of a particular project.

She said: 'If I was producing the movie, it would be a different thing. My loyalty has to be to the film and the director, that's where I stand.

Support: Looking elegant in a cream midi-length frock, the star cosied up to actor Tim Roth at the film's photo call

On the defensive: The mother-of-four was later forced to defend her role in the controversial film saying she understands why Monaco's royal family is upset

'Everything else, I am not that privy to. Whether they are protecting me or not telling me, that's  OK. I’ll stay in the bubble. That’s my job.

'You can't get involved in all those things operating around a  film when you are acting, because that takes the energy away from  the performance.'

The actress says she can understands why Monaco's ruling family may have concerns and only regrets not tackling those head-on.

'They invited me for lunch, but I was shooting six days a week and I had my small children and my mother and my aunt. I couldn’t take all these people.

'Now subsequently I wish I would have gone, because I would have been able to explain to them the intentions.'

Gracious: The Moulin Rouge actress waved to fans as she arrived at the prestigious festival on Tuesday

She added: 'It's very threatening if someone plays your mother. But I would hope that they would know that there was an enormous amount of respect and love behind everything that was done.'

The Academy Award winner said working on the film had not only provided her with new insights into the Princess's life but had made her realise just how much she had in common with her.

The actress, who shot to fame in the 1989 film Dead Calm, has been in the public eye for 25 years and has long got used to the public fascination with her own private life.

She was married to Tom Cruise for 11 years until their very public divorce in 2001, and her second marriage to New Zealand-born country star Keith Urban has not been without its challenges.

Just months after they tied the knot in 2006, Urban checked himself in the Betty Ford clinic for his alcohol abuse.

Demure: Kidman opted for a demure black dress for her first appearance at the festival

After everything she has gone through it is perhaps not surprising that Kidman now insists that her family comes before her career.

The star, who adopted two children with Cruise and who has two daughters with Urban, says she wouldn't hesitate to walk away from Hollywood if that is want those closest to her wanted.

She also says she wouldn't have taken the role of Grace if Urban hadn't wanted her to do it.

She confided: 'If he said no, I wouldn't have done it. That's how we are.

'I know this sounds old-fashioned, but I do put it on the table. Because if it won't work for us, then I'm not doing it.'

Asked if she would ever choose between film and family she said: 'Yeah, if he asked me. No question.'

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