The Australian actress plays Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) detective Erin Bell, who discovers that an old enemy is back on the scene, in Karyn Kusama's gritty crime thriller. It was made on a low budget so the crew had to shoot quickly and on location, and one day, they were caught up in a real-life shooting in South Central Los Angeles.
"What I call scrappy filmmaking, we're just down in the ditches just getting it done," she said during a BAFTA career retrospective. "We didn't have much money, we're out on location and we were in South Central LA at one point shooting (the film) and they were like, 'Get inside there's a shooter, a live shooter!' I'm like, 'What?' I've got the (prop) gun and I'm out on the street and they dragged me in and I hit the floor because there was a shooter and helicopters."
"That's the kind of locations we shot the movie on but when you don't have the money to build the sets you're out there doing it."
The "Moulin Rouge!" star is unrecognisable as the tortured detective and adopted a completely different style of walking, which she discovered after following Karyn's instructions to watch videos of coyotes. In watching their movement, the character just "came through in a weird way" and everything about her started to change without much conscious thought.
Erin is in an extremely dark place and Nicole admits the role "did take a lot more than I thought it would take and it did take me off into a limbo state."
She continued, "It was uncomfortable for me as Nicole in that state for a long period of time, it wasn't pleasant but, you know, I do believe that you give things up artistically at times in your life, you commit."
"Destroyer", which has been doing the film festival circuit, hits cinemas from December.