Nicole Kidman has said she is "willing to fail" as an actress.

The Oscar-winning star of The Hours plays a perma-tanned, peroxide blonde who writes letters to a death row prisoner - played by John Cusack - in new film The Paperboy.

She revealed at the Cannes Film Festival: "I don't ever want to be pigeon-holed. I don't want to be told 'no, you can't be in this kind of genre, you can't play this kind of role, because you just can't do it.' I'm willing to fail."

Nicole, wearing a vibrant orange shift dress, said director Lee Daniels asked her to do her own hair and make-up because the budget on the film was so tight.

She created her character Charlotte Bless in her home bathroom with fake tan, a peroxide hairpiece and her own make-up, and texted pictures of herself to Daniels, which he gave the "thumbs up", she said.

Meanwhile High School Musical's Zac Efron, whose character falls for Charlotte, said it was a dream to work with Nicole.

He confessed: "I had the most lovely time in the world with Nicole. I was ecstatic the day I found out she was playing the part.

"I've been in love with her for a long time, since I saw her in Moulin Rouge."

His co-stars Matthew McConaughey and Cusack praised Daniels and his somewhat unconventional directing style.

Cusack commented: "If you listen to him literally or linearly then you're missing his point."