BY ABID RAHMAN | HollywoodReporter.Com
The Australian actress was able to skirt the city’s strict seven-day hotel quarantine for arrivals from Australia.
Nicole Kidman has sparked a backlash in Hong Kong after skipping the country’s strict COVID-19 quarantine to shoot the Amazon series Expats in the city.
According to local news site HK01, Kidman took a private jet from Sydney to Hong Kong on Aug. 12 and was exempted from the city’s seven-day hotel quarantine for vaccinated people arriving from Australia, despite Sydney going into lockdown following a surge in Delta variant cases. From Friday, vaccinated people arriving from Australia will have to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days as the country is reclassified from a low-risk to medium-risk country.
The South China Morning Post reports that Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, “under mounting public pressure” to explain Kidman’s preferential treatment, confirmed that the Australian actress and other film crew had been granted an exemption “to carry out designated professional work.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Kidman’s rep.
The Oscar-winning actress’ presence in Hong Kong after dodging some of the most stringent quarantine rules in the world has caused consternation in the press and on social media. Despite the draconian nature of the quarantine rules, they have generally been viewed, outwardly at least, as equally applied until the Kidman incident. In recent weeks, Mark Tucker, the chairman of HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, was required to undergo a three-week hotel quarantine after flying in from the U.K.
The Hong Kong Free Press reported that Kidman has been seen out and about shopping in Hong Kong in the last week and has been a source of discussion in the city’s tabloid press.
On social media, the reaction has been uniformly negative. “Dear #HongKong friends and family, While you are locked into a hotel room for three weeks, how does it feel to know that if you are from Hollywood, you are exempt from the barbaric quarantine rules HK residents are subjected to?” wrote user @debkhk on Twitter.
“Olympic medalists are required to quarantine in HK but Nicole Kidman doesn’t because she is a Hollywood star and needs to film “EXPATS””, tweeted @wongmjane.
“What the world needs at this juncture is a Prime Video series about the privileged lives of American expats in Hong Kong, with Nicole Kidman” quipped @mbrookerhk.
In July 2018, Amazon handed out a straight-to-series order for Expats, starring and executive produced by Kidman. The series is based on Janice Y.K. Lee’s book The Expatriates about a group of close-knit wealthy women expatriates in Hong Kong. Australian scribe Alice Bell (The Beautiful Lie, The Slap) penned the script for the series which is directed by Lulu Wang and co-stars Jack Huston.
The drama is the first to stem from Amazon’s first-look film and TV deal the retailer/streamer signed with Kidman, which was announced in June 2018 as one of Amazon Studio’s chief Jennifer Salke’s first such pacts.
This is not the first quarantine controversy that Kidman has been embroiled in. In June 2020, there was a media storm after the actress and her husband, Keith Urban, were exempted by the Australian state of New South Wales’ hotel quarantine in favor of home quarantine after they flew into Sydney from the U.S. ahead of production of the miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers.
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