Nicole Kidman
Actress


Born 1967

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American Born But Professional Australian

    Although many assume that Kidman is a native of Australia, she was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 20, 1967. Her family, who lived on the island because of a research project Kidman's father, a biochemist, was involved with, subsequently moved to Washington, D.C. for the next three years.

    After her father's project reached completion, Kidman and her family -- which also included her mother, a nurse/educator, and a younger sister -- moved to her parents' native Australia. Raised in the upper-middle-class Sydney suburb of Longueville, she grew up with a love of the arts, particularly dance and theatre.

    Trained in ballet from the age of three, Kidman made her acting debut in a nativity play when she was six. By the age of ten, she was studying acting in drama school, and she went on to train at the St. Martin's Youth Theatre in Melbourne and at Sydney's Phillip Street Theatre. An awkward, gawky teenager who was teased relentlessly because of her height, Kidman took refuge in the theatre, and she landed her first professional role at the age of 14, when she starred in Bush Christmas (1983), a TV movie about a group of kids who band together with an Aborigine to find their stolen horse. This was followed by a role in another adventure film, BMX Bandits (1983), and a number of TV movies.

    Kidman's first breakthrough came when she was asked to star in Vietnam, a miniseries directed by John Duigan; the actress won positive notices for her portrayal of an awkward 1960s schoolgirl who matures into an idealistic 24-year-old Vietnam war protester. She also won an American agent, something that opened quite a few doors of opportunity.






Nicole Kidman
    In 1989, Kidman got another major break when she was tapped to star in Phillip Noyce's Dead Calm. A psychological thriller about a couple (Kidman and Sam Neill) who are terrorized by a young man they rescue from a sinking ship (Billy Zane), the film helped to establish the then-19-year-old Kidman as an actress of considerable mettle. That same year her reputation was further boosted by her starring performance in the made-for-TV Bangkok Hilton, which cast her as a young woman incarcerated in a Thai prison on false drug smuggling charges.

    By now a rising star in Australia, Kidman began earning recognition across the Pacific.

    In 1989, she was picked by Tom Cruise for a starring role in her first American feature, Tony Scott's Days of Thunder (1990). The film, a testosterone-saturated drama about a racecar driver (Cruise), cast Kidman as the neurologist who falls in love with him. A sizable hit, it had the added advantage of introducing Kidman to Cruise, whom she married in December of 1990.

    Following a role as Dustin Hoffman's moll in Billy Bathgate (1991), and a supporting turn as a snotty boarding school senior in Flirting (also 1991), John Duigan's wonderful and criminally little-seen coming-of-age drama, Kidman collaborated with Cruise on their second film together, Far and Away (1992). Despite their onscreen pairing and some gorgeous cinematography, the film got only a lukewarm reception, and Kidman's subsequent projects, My Life and Malice ( both 1993), were similarly disappointing. Batman Forever (1995), in which she played the hero's love interest, fared somewhat better, but it did little in the way of establishing Kidman as a serious actress.

    Kidman finally broke out of her window-dressing typecasting when Gus Van Sant cast her as the ruthless protagonist of To Die For in 1995. Displaying a gift for very black comic timing, she earned numerous awards and the respect of a number of critics who had previously viewed her merely as the sum of her physical parts. Further critical praise greeted Kidman's performance as Isabel Archer in Jane Campion's 1996 adaptation of Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady. Now regarded as one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood -- as well as one half of its most high-profile couple -- Kidman starred opposite George Clooney in the big-budget action extravaganza The Peacemaker (1997) and opposite Sandra Bullock in the frothy Practical Magic (1998).

    Both films weren't remotely as interesting or successful as Kidman's concurrent return to the stage in London's Donmar Warehouse production of The Blue Room. Cast as several characters, one of which required her to play a scene in the nude, Kidman inspired a sensation among both audiences and critics, the latter of whom were moved to write numerous lines of sweaty praise for the actress' full-bodied flirtation with nudity. The play enjoyed a sold-out run in both London and New York, and Kidman earned an Evening Standard Award and Olivier nomination for her performance.

    In 1999, Kidman starred in her most talked-about film to date, Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. The film, which was cloaked in secrecy from the beginning of its production, also starred Cruise as Kidman's physician husband, and the couple's onscreen pairing was hyped as one of the project's major selling points. However, despite gaining an added measure of intrigue from Kubrick's death after shooting had ended, Eyes Wide Shut opened to a radically mixed reaction; for her part, Kidman came away with some of the film's best reviews for her portrayal of a bored, sexually adventurous Manhattan housewife.

    The following year, she kept busy with a number of projects: included amongst them were Jez Butterworth's Birthday Girl, in which she played a Russian mail order bride, and Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge, which cast her as a courtesan in 19th century Paris.

    Following the success of Moulin Rouge, Kidman gained even more positive notice for her turn as an icy mother seeking the key to a dark mystery in Alejandro Amenabar's spooky throwback, The Others. By the time of the 59th Annual Golden Globe Awards were set to take place, Kidman found herself nominated for her memorable performances in both films. Though her emotionally fragile performance in The Others lost out to Sissy Spacek's performace in Todd Field's In the Bedroom, Kidman's upbeat performance in the lively Moulin Rouge found versatile actress taking home a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy in addition to earning her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Though it couldn't have been any further from her flamboyant turn in Moulin Rouge, Kidman's virtually unrecognizable role as Virginia Woolf in the following year's The Hours kept the Oscar and Golden Globe nominations steadily flowing in for the acclaimed actress. WIth her 2003 Golden Globe win serving as a foreshadowing of things to come for the 75th annual Academy Awards, fans cheered as the fair haired beauty snagged the Best Actress Oscar that had been so elusive the year before.

    Family life has always been a priority for Kidman. Born to social activists (mom was a feminist, dad a labor advocate), Nicole and her little sister, Antonia, discussed current events around the dinner table and participated in their parents' campaigns by passing out pamphlets on street corners. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, 17-year-old Nicole stopped working and took a massage course so that she could provide physical therapy (her mother eventually beat the cancer). She and Cruise adopted two children: Isabella Jane (born in 1993) and Connor Antony (born 1995). Despite their rock-solid image, the couple announced in early 2001 that they were separating due to career conflicts.





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Nicole Kidman By David Thomson Hardcover Book
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