Young Kidman’s first love was ballet, but she soon gravitated toward drama and made her film debut in the 1983 Australian film, Bush Christmas at 16. She worked steadily from then on in both Australian films and TV, achieving international success with 1989’s Dead Calm. She was then cast opposite Tom Cruise in 1990’s Days of Thunder and married him on Christmas Eve of that year.
The Cruise-Kidman marriage lasted eleven years through August of 2001. During its course, Kidman’s career blossomed through such films as 1991’s Billy Bathgate for which she received a Golden Globe nomination, 1992’s Far and Away, 1993’s Malice, 1995’s To Die For for which she won a Golden Globe, 1996’s The Portrait of a Lady and 1999’s Eyes Wide Shut, Stanley Kubrick’s last film and Kidman’s last with Cruise.
The year of her headline-making divorce from Cruise, Kidman scored with two major box office successes, the musical, Moulin Rouge! and the psychological horror film, The Others. She received Golden Globe nominations for both, the former in the musical or comedy category and the latter in the drama category. She won for Moulin Rouge! which also brought her the first of her four Oscar nominations to date.
2002’s The Hours brought Kidman her fifth Golden Globe nomination and third win as well as her second Oscar nomination and first win. 2003’s Cold Mountain brought her a sixth Golden Globe nomination and 2004’s Birth a seventh.
Kidman married singer Keith Urban in 2006 while retaining custody of her two adopted children with Cruise. She subsequently gave birth to two daughters with Urban.
Kidman continued to appear in high profile films such as 2007’s Margot at the Wedding, 2008’s Australia and 2009’s Nine before receiving her eighth Golden Globe and third Oscar nominations for 2010’s Rabbit Hole. She received her ninth and tenth Golden Globe nominations for 2012’s The Paperboy, her first in a supporting role and Hemingway & Gellhorn, her first for a TV role for which was also nominated for an Emmy.
2016’s Lion brought Kidman her eleventh Golden Globe nomination and her fourth Oscar nod, the first in a supporting role. 2017’s TV mini-series Big Little Lies brought her a twelfth Golden Globe nomination and fourth win as well as her second Emmy nomination and first win. 2018’s Destroyer earned her a thirteenth Golden Globe nomination.
Nicole Kidman continues to be one of filmdom’s brightest stars at 51.
MOULIN ROUGE! (2001), directed by Baz Luhrmann
Luhrmann’s memorable anachronistic musical features mostly well-known contemporary songs in an 18th Century setting. Generally acknowledged to be based on La Boheme, it is in fact, an amalgam of three operas/operettas – La Traviata and Orpheus in the Underworld as well as La Boheme. Kidman excels as the tragic heroine who enters singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” while Ewan McGregor matches her as her lovelorn co-star singing “Come What May”, the film’s only original song. Jim Broadbent steals scenes especially in the “Like a Virgin” sequence.
THE OTHERS (2001), directed by Alejandro Amenabar
Spanish director Amenabar’s first English language film was this gothic thriller that starred Kidman as a woman who lives alone in a darkened old family home with her two photosensitive children while awaiting the return of her husband who has gone off to fight the Germans during World War II. She becomes convinced that the house is haunted after the arrival of three servants including Fionnula Flanagan and Christopher Eccleston. Flanagan steals every scene she’s in as the evil housekeeper. Highly reminiscent of 1961’s The Innocents, this is a good scare movie.
THE HOURS (2002), directed by Stephen Daldry
Daldry’s film of Michael Cunningham’s novel about Virginia Woolf whose book Mrs. Dalloway is about the woman who wrote it and two subsequent generations of women who were influenced by it, the scenes were filmed with Julianne Moore’s mid-film 1950s incarnation filmed first, followed by Meryl Streep’s contemporary scene and finally Kidman’s portrayal of Woolf. Streep is on screen for 42 minutes, Moore for 33 and Kidman for 28 but it was Kidman with the briefest appearance who won the Oscar for Best Actress while Moore and Streep were nominated in support, Streep, though, for Adaptation.
LION (2016), directed by Garth Davis
Based on the true story of a five-year-old Indian boy who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta and winds up adopted by an Australian couple in Tasmania, Kidman was handpicked by the real-life adoptive mother she plays for the role and bonded during filming with Sunny Pawar as the boy who, like his character, spoke no English. Pawar is remarkable in he early sequences of the film which he has to carry mostly on his own. Dev Patel is equally memorable as the grown-upr version of the boy who returns to India to search for his birth family. Both Patel and Kidman were nominated for Oscars as was the film which received six nominations in all.
BOY ERASED (2018), directed by Joel Edgerton
Based on the memoir by Garrard Conley, Kidman’s gallery of women with strong maternal instincts reaches its zenith here with her portrayal of the wife of a Baptist minister who supports her husband in putting their son (Lucas Hedges) through gay conversion therapy after he is outed by the boy who raped him, but comes to regret that decision once she sees for herself what is going on in the church sanctioned institution. Her performance brought her numerous awards recognition including a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the AARP’s Movies for Grown-Ups Awards, but unfortunately did not result in a fifth Oscar nod.
NICOLE KIDMAN AND OSCAR
- Moulin Rouge! (2001) – nominated – Best Actress
- The Hours (2002) – Oscar – Best Actress
- Rabbit Hole (2010) – nominated – Best Actress
- Lion (2016) – nominated – Best Supporting Actress