- 1. Early life
- 2. Career
Nicole Mary Kidman is an American-born Australian actress and producer. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including an Academy Award, a British Academy Film Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, two Primetime Emmy Awards and six Golden Globe Awards. She was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 and 2018, and has been featured multiple times in annual rankings of the world's highest-paid actresses. In 2020, The New York Times ranked her among the greatest actors of the 21st century.
Kidman began her acting career in Australia with the 1983 films Bush Christmas and BMX Bandits. Her breakthrough came in 1989 with the thriller film Dead Calm and the miniseries Bangkok Hilton. In 1990, she achieved international success with the action film Days of Thunder. She subsequently went on to receive greater widespread recognition with lead roles in Far and Away (1992), Batman Forever (1995), To Die For (1995) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). In 2003, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of writer Virginia Woolf in the drama film The Hours (2002). She received additional Academy Award nominations for portraying a courtesan in the musical Moulin Rouge! (2001) and emotionally troubled mothers in the dramas Rabbit Hole (2010) and Lion (2016). Her other film credits include The Others (2001), Cold Mountain (2003), Dogville (2003), Birth (2004), Australia (2008), The Paperboy (2012), Paddington (2014), The Killing of a Sacred Deer (2017), Destroyer (2018), Aquaman (2018), Bombshell (2019) and Being the Ricardos (2021).
Kidman's television roles include Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012), Big Little Lies (2017–2019), Top of the Lake: China Girl (2017), The Undoing (2020) and Nine Perfect Strangers (2021). For Big Little Lies, she received two Primetime Emmy Awards, one for Outstanding Lead Actress and the other for Outstanding Limited Series as an executive producer.
Kidman has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF since 1994 and for UNIFEM since 2006. In 2006, she was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia. In 2010, she founded the production company Blossom Films. She was married to actor Tom Cruise from 1990 to 2001 and has been married to country music singer Keith Urban since 2006.
Nicole Mary Kidman was born on 20 June 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were temporarily in the United States on student visas. Her mother, Janelle Ann (née Glenny), is a nursing instructor who edited her husband's books and was a member of the Women's Electoral Lobby; her father, Antony Kidman, was a biochemist, clinical psychologist and author. Having been born in the American state of Hawaii to Australian parents, Kidman holds dual citizenship of Australia and the United States. She also has Irish and Scottish ancestry. Being born in Hawaii, she was given the Hawaiian name "Hōkūlani", meaning "heavenly star." The inspiration came from a baby elephant born around the same time at the Honolulu Zoo.
When Kidman was born, her father was a graduate student at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. He became a visiting fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health of the United States. Opposed to the war in Vietnam, Kidman's parents participated in anti-war protests while living in Washington, D.C. The family returned to Australia when Kidman was four and her mother now lives on Sydney's North Shore. Kidman has a younger sister, Antonia Kidman, who is a journalist and TV presenter.
Kidman grew up in Sydney, Australia and attended Lane Cove Public School and North Sydney Girls' High School. She was enrolled in ballet at the age of three and showed her natural talent for acting during her primary and high school years. She has said she first aspired to become an actress upon watching Margaret Hamilton's performance as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Kidman has revealed that she was timid as a child, saying, "I am very shy – really shy – I even had a stutter as a kid, which I slowly got over, but I still regress into that shyness. So I don't like walking into a crowded restaurant by myself; I don't like going to a party by myself."
She initially studied at the Phillip Street Theatre in Sydney, alongside Naomi Watts who had attended the same high school. She also attended the Australian Theatre for Young People. Here, she took up drama, mime and performing in her teens, finding acting to be a refuge. Owing to her fair skin and naturally red hair, the Australian sun forced the young Kidman to rehearse in the halls of the theatre. A regular at the Phillip Street Theatre, she received praise and encouragement to pursue acting full time.
Early work and breakthrough (1983–1994)
In 1983, 16-year-old Kidman made her film debut in a remake of the Australian holiday season favourite Bush Christmas. By the end of 1983, she had a supporting role in the television series Five Mile Creek. In 1984, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which caused Kidman to halt her acting work temporarily while she studied massage therapy in order to help her mother with physical therapy. She began gaining popularity in the mid-1980s after appearing in several film roles, including BMX Bandits (1983), Watch the Shadows Dance (1987 aka Nightmaster) and the romantic comedy Windrider (1986), which earned Kidman attention due to her racy scenes. Also during the decade, she appeared in several Australian productions, including the drama A Country Practice and the 1987 miniseries Vietnam. She also appeared on several Australian television films and programs.
In 1988, Kidman appeared in Emerald City, based on the play of the same name. The Australian film earned her an Australian Film Institute Award for Best Supporting Actress. Kidman next starred with Sam Neill in Dead Calm (1989) as Rae Ingram, playing the wife of a naval officer. The thriller brought Kidman to international recognition; Variety commented: "Throughout the film, Kidman is excellent. She gives the character of Rae real tenacity and energy." Meanwhile, critic Roger Ebert noted the excellent chemistry between the leads, stating, "Kidman and Zane do generate real, palpable hatred in their scenes together." She followed that up with the Australian miniseries Bangkok Hilton before moving on to star alongside her then-boyfriend and future ex-husband, Tom Cruise, in the 1990 sports action film Days of Thunder, as a young doctor who falls in love with a NASCAR driver. Considered her international breakthrough film, it was among the highest-grossing films of the year.
In 1991, Kidman co-starred alongside Thandiwe Newton and former classmate Naomi Watts in the Australian independent film Flirting. They portrayed high school girls in this coming of age story, which won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film. That same year, her work in the film Billy Bathgate earned Kidman her first Golden Globe Award nomination, for Best Supporting Actress. The New York Times, in its film review, called her "a beauty with, it seems, a sense of humor". The following year, she and Cruise re-teamed for Ron Howard's Irish epic Far and Away (1992), which was a modest critical and commercial success. In 1993, she starred in the thriller Malice opposite Alec Baldwin and the drama My Life opposite Michael Keaton.
Worldwide recognition and critical acclaim (1995–2003)
In 1995, Kidman played Dr. Chase Meridian, the damsel in distress, in the superhero film Batman Forever, opposite Val Kilmer as the film's title character. The same year, she starred in Gus Van Sant's critically acclaimed dark comedy To Die For, in which she played the murderous newscaster Suzanne Stone. Regarding Kidman's Golden Globe Award-winning performance, Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle said "[she] brings to the role layers of meaning, intention and impulse. Telling her story in close-up – as she does throughout the film – Kidman lets you see the calculation, the wheels turning, the transparent efforts to charm that succeed in charming all the same." Kidman next appeared alongside Barbara Hershey and John Malkovich in The Portrait of a Lady (1996), based on the novel of the same name, and starred in The Peacemaker (1997) as White House nuclear expert Dr. Julia Kelly, opposite George Clooney. The latter film grossed US$110 million worldwide. In 1998, Kidman starred in the comedy Practical Magic alongside Sandra Bullock as two witch sisters who face a threatening curse that prevents them from ever find lasting love. While the film opened atop the chart on its North American opening weekend, it flopped at the box office. She returned to her work on the stage that same year in the David Hare play The Blue Room, which opened in London. For her performance, she received a Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress.
In 1999, Kidman reunited with then-husband Tom Cruise to portray a Manhattan couple on a sexual odyssey in Eyes Wide Shut, their third film together and the final film of director Stanley Kubrick. It was subject to censorship controversies due to the explicit nature of its sex scenes. After a brief hiatus and a highly publicised divorce from Cruise, Kidman returned to the screen to play a mail-order bride in the British-American drama Birthday Girl. In 2001, Kidman played the cabaret actress and courtesan Satine in Baz Luhrmann's musical Moulin Rouge!, opposite Ewan McGregor. Her performance and her singing received positive reviews; Paul Clinton of CNN called it her best work since To Die For, and wrote " is smoldering and stunning as Satine. She moves with total confidence throughout the film Kidman seems to specialize in 'ice queen' characters, but with Satine, she allows herself to thaw, just a bit." Subsequently, Kidman received her second Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, among several other awards and nominations, including her first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.
Kidman also starred in Alejandro Amenábar's horror film The Others (2001) as Grace Stewart, a mother living in the Channel Islands during World War II who suspects her house is haunted. Grossing over US$210 million worldwide, the film also earned several Goya Award nominations, including a Best Actress nomination for Kidman. She received her second BAFTA Award and fifth Golden Globe Award nominations. Roger Ebert commented that "Alejandro Amenábar has the patience to create a languorous, dreamy atmosphere, and Nicole Kidman succeeds in convincing us that she is a normal person in a disturbing situation, and not just a standard-issue horror movie hysteric."
In 2002, Kidman garnered critical acclaim for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf in Stephen Daldry's The Hours, co-starring alongside Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore. Kidman famously wore prosthetics, which were applied to her nose, in order to portray the author during 1920s England, making her look almost unrecognisable. The film was a critical success, earning several awards and nominations, including a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Picture. The New York Times wrote that "Ms. Kidman, in a performance of astounding bravery, evokes the savage inner war waged by a brilliant mind against a system of faulty wiring that transmits a searing, crazy static into her brain". Kidman won numerous critic and industry awards for her performance, including her first BAFTA Award, third Golden Globe Award, and the Academy Award for Best Actress, becoming the first Australian actress to win the award. During her Oscar's acceptance speech, she referenced the Iraq War which was occurring at the time when speaking about the importance of art saying, "Why do you come to the Academy Awards when the world is in such turmoil? Because art is important. And because you believe in what you do and you want to honour that, and it is a tradition that needs to be upheld." Also in 2002, Kidman was named the World's Most Beautiful Person by People magazine.
Following her Oscar win, Kidman appeared in three very different films in 2003. The first of those, a leading role in director Lars von Trier's Dogville, was an experimental film set on a bare soundstage. Though the film divided critics in the United States, Kidman still earned praise for her performance. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone stated, "Kidman gives the most emotionally bruising performance of her career in Dogville, a movie that never met a cliche it didn't stomp on." The second film was an adaptation of Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain, opposite Anthony Hopkins. Her third film that year was Anthony Minghella's war drama Cold Mountain, where she starred opposite Jude Law and Renée Zellweger, playing Southerner Ada Monroe, a woman who falls in love with Law's character and become separated by the Civil War. Regarding her performance, Time magazine wrote, "Kidman takes strength from Ada's plight and grows steadily, literally luminous. Her sculptural pallor gives way to warm radiance in the firelight". The film garnered several awards and nominations, most notably for the performances of the cast, with Kidman receiving her sixth Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actress.
Established actress (2004–2009)
In 2004, Kidman starred in the film Birth, which sparked controversy over a scene in which she shares a bath with her co-star Cameron Bright, then aged ten. During a press conference at the 61st Venice International Film Festival, Kidman addressed the controversy saying, "It wasn't that I wanted to make a film where I kiss a 10-year-old boy. I wanted to make a film where you understand love". She received her seventh Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama. That same year, she appeared as a successful producer in the black comedy science-fiction film The Stepford Wives, a remake of the 1975 film of the same name, directed by Frank Oz. In 2005, Kidman appeared opposite Sean Penn in the Sydney Pollack thriller The Interpreter, playing UN translator Silvia Broome, and with Will Ferrell in the romantic comedy Bewitched, based on the 1960s TV sitcom of the same name. While neither film fared well in the United States, both were international successes. For the latter film, Kidman and Ferrell earned the Razzie Award for Worst Screen Couple.
In conjunction with her success within the film industry, Kidman became the face of the Chanel No. 5 perfume brand. She starred in a campaign of television and print ads with Rodrigo Santoro, directed by Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann, to promote the fragrance during the holiday seasons of 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008. The three-minute commercial produced for Chanel No. 5 made Kidman the record holder for the most money paid per minute to an actor after she reportedly earned US$12 million for the three-minute advert. During this time, Kidman was also featured as the 45th Most Powerful Celebrity on the 2005 Forbes Celebrity 100 List. She made a reported US$14.5 million in 2004–2005. On People magazine's list of 2005's highest-paid actresses, Kidman came in second behind Julia Roberts, with a US$16–17 million per-film price tag.
In 2006, Kidman portrayed photographer Diane Arbus in the biographical film Fur opposite Robert Downey Jr., and lent her voice to the animated film Happy Feet, which grossed over US$384 million worldwide. In 2007, she starred in the science-fiction film The Invasion directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, a remake of the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and starred opposite Jennifer Jason Leigh and Jack Black in Noah Baumbach's comedy-drama Margot at the Wedding, which earned her a Satellite Award nomination for Best Actress – Musical or Comedy. She also starred in the fantasy-adventure, The Golden Compass (2007), playing the villainous Marisa Coulter.
In 2008, she reunited with Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann for the Australian period film Australia, set in the remote Northern Territory during the Japanese attack on Darwin during World War II, starring opposite Hugh Jackman as an Englishwoman feeling overwhelmed by the continent. The acting was praised and the film was a box office success worldwide. In 2009, Kidman appeared in the Rob Marshall musical Nine, portraying the Federico Fellini-like character's muse, Claudia Jenssen, alongside an ensemble cast consisting of Daniel Day-Lewis, Marion Cotillard, Penélope Cruz, Judi Dench, Fergie, Kate Hudson and Sophia Loren. Kidman, whose screen time was brief in comparison to the other actresses, performed the musical number "Unusual Way" alongside Day-Lewis. The film received several Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations, with Kidman earning her fourth Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, as part of the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award.
Biographical and independent films (2010–2015)
In 2010, Kidman produced and starred in the film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Rabbit Hole, alongside Aaron Eckhart, for which she vacated her role in the Woody Allen picture You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. Her portrayal as a grieving mother in the film earned her critical acclaim, and received nominations for the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. She also subsequently lent her voice to a promotional video that Australia used to support its bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. In 2011, she starred alongside Nicolas Cage in director Joel Schumacher's action-thriller Trespass, with the stars playing a married couple taken hostage, and appeared with Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston in Dennis Dugan's romantic comedy Just Go with It, as a trophy wife.
In 2012, Kidman and Clive Owen starred in the HBO film Hemingway & Gellhorn, which depicted the relationship between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn. In Lee Daniels' adaptation of the Pete Dexter novel, The Paperboy (2012), she portrayed death row groupie Charlotte Bless. The film competed at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, and Kidman's performance garnered nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Award and the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, in addition to her second Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, her tenth nomination overall. In 2012, Kidman's audiobook recording of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse was released through Audible. Kidman starred as an unstable mother in Park Chan-wook's Stoker (2013), to a positive response and a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. In April 2013, she was selected as a member of the main competition jury at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2014, Kidman starred as the titular character in the biographical film Grace of Monaco, which chronicles the 1962 crisis in which Charles de Gaulle blockaded the tiny principality, angered by Monaco's status as a tax haven for wealthy French subjects and Kelly's contemplative Hollywood return to star in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie. Opening out of competition at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, the film received largely negative reviews. Kidman also starred in two films with Colin Firth that year, the first being the British-Australian historical drama The Railway Man, in which Kidman played an officer's wife. Katherine Monk of the Montreal Gazette said of Kidman's performance, "It's a truly masterful piece of acting that transcends Teplitzky's store-bought framing, but it's Kidman who delivers the biggest surprise: For the first time since her eyebrows turned into solid marble arches, the Australian Oscar winner is truly terrific". Her second film with Firth was the British thriller film Before I Go To Sleep, portraying a car crash survivor with brain damage. Also in 2014, she appeared in the live-action animated comedy film Paddington as the film's main antagonist.
In 2015, Kidman starred in the drama Strangerland, which opened at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, and the Jason Bateman-directed The Family Fang, produced by Kidman's production company, Blossom Films, which premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. In her other 2015 film release, the biographical drama Queen of the Desert, she portrayed writer, traveller, political officer, administrator and archaeologist Gertrude Bell. That same year, she played a district attorney, opposite Julia Roberts and Chiwetel Ejiofor, in the little-seen film Secret in Their Eyes, a remake of the 2009 Argentine film of the same name, both based on the novel La pregunta de sus ojos by author Eduardo Sacheri. After more than 15 years, Kidman returned to the West End in the UK premiere of Photograph 51 at the Noël Coward Theatre. She starred as British scientist Rosalind Franklin, working for the discovery of the structure of DNA, in the production from 5 September to 21 November 2015, directed by Michael Grandage. The production was met with considerable praise from critics, particularly for Kidman, and her return to the West End was hailed a success.For her performance, she won an Evening Standard Theatre Award and received a second Laurence Olivier Award nomination for Best Actress.
Lion, Big Little Lies and continued acclaim (2016–present)
In 2016's Lion, Kidman portrayed Sue, the adoptive mother of Saroo Brierley, an Indian boy who was separated from his birth family, a role she felt connected to as she herself is the mother of adopted children. She received positive reviews for her performance, in addition to her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, her fourth nomination overall, and her eleventh Golden Globe Award nomination, among several others. Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times thought that "Kidman gives a powerful and moving performance as Saroo's adoptive mother, who loves her son with every molecule of her being, but comes to understand his quest. It's as good as anything she's done in the last decade." Budgeted at US$12 million, Lion earned over US$140 million globally. She also gave a voice-over performance for the English version of the animated film The Guardian Brothers.
In 2017, Kidman returned to television for Big Little Lies, a drama series based on Liane Moriarty's novel of the same name, which premiered on HBO. She also served as executive producer alongside her co-star, Reese Witherspoon, and the show's director, Jean-Marc Vallée. She played Celeste Wright, a former lawyer and housewife, who conceals an abusive relationship with her husband, played by Alexander Skarsgård. Matthew Jacobs of The Huffington Post considered that she "delivered a career-defining performance", while Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post wrote that "Kidman belongs in the pantheon of great actresses". She won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie for her performance, as well as the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series as a producer. She also received a Critics' Choice Television Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award.
Kidman next played Martha Farnsworth, the headmistress of an all-girls school during the American Civil War, in Sofia Coppola's drama The Beguiled, a remake of the 1971 film of the same name, which premiered at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, competing for the Palme d'Or. Both films were adaptations of a novel by Thomas P. Cullinan. The film was an arthouse success, and Katie Walsh of the Tribune News Service found Kidman "particularly, unsurprisingly excellent in her performance as the steely Miss Martha. She is controlled and in control, unflappable. Her genteel manners and femininity co-exist easily with her toughness." Kidman had two other films premiere at the festival: the science-fiction romantic comedy How to Talk to Girls at Parties, reuniting her with director John Cameron Mitchell, and the psychological thriller The Killing of a Sacred Deer, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, which also competed for the Palme d'Or. Also in 2017, Kidman played supporting roles in the BBC Two television series Top of the Lake: China Girl and in the comedy-drama The Upside, a remake of the 2011 French comedy The Intouchables, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.
In 2018, Kidman starred in two dramas—Destroyer and Boy Erased. In the former, she played a detective troubled by a case for two decades. Peter Debruge of Variety and Brooke Marine of W both found her "unrecognizable" in the role and Debruge added that "she disappears into an entirely new skin, rearranging her insides to fit the character's tough hide", whereas Marine highlighted Kidman's method acting. The latter film is based on Garrard Conley's Boy Erased: A Memoir, and features Russell Crowe and Kidman as socially conservative parents who send their son (played by Lucas Hedges) to a gay conversion program. Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair credited all three performers for "elevating the fairly standard-issue material to poignant highs". That same year, Kidman played Queen Atlanna, the mother of the title character, in the DC Extended Universe superhero film Aquaman. Also in 2018, Nicole was interviewed for BAFTA A Life in Pictures, where she reflected on her extensive film career.
Forbes ranked her as the fourth highest-paid actress in the world in 2019, with an annual income of $34 million. She took on the supporting part of a rich socialite in John Crowley's drama The Goldfinch, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Donna Tartt, starring Ansel Elgort. Although it was poorly received, Owen Gleiberman commended Kidman for playing her part with "elegant affection". She next co-starred alongside Charlize Theron and Margot Robbie in the drama Bombshell, a film depicting the scandal concerning the sexual harassment accusations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, in which she portrayed journalist Gretchen Carlson. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times opined that despite lesser screen time than her two co-protagonists, Kidman successfully made Carlson "ever-so-slightly ridiculous, adding a sharp sliver of comedy that underscores how self-serving and futile her rebellious gestures at the network are". For her performance, Kidman received another nomination for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.
In 2020, Kidman played Grace Fraser, a successful New York therapist, in the HBO psychological thriller miniseries The Undoing, based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Kidman served as executive producer alongside the show's director, Susanne Bier, and David E. Kelley, who previously adapted and produced Big Little Lies. For her performance, Kidman received additional Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. Kidman's only film release of 2020 was the musical comedy film The Prom, based on the Broadway musical of the same name, starring alongside Meryl Streep, James Corden and Keegan-Michael Key.
In 2021, Kidman starred in and executive produced the Hulu miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers, based on the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty. She also starred as actress-comedian Lucille Ball alongside Javier Bardem as Ball's husband, Desi Arnaz, in the biographical drama film Being the Ricardos, directed by Aaron Sorkin. Despite unfavorable reactions in response to her casting as Ball, her portrayal received critical praise and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, as well as a nomination for the Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Actress.
Kidman will star alongside Alexander Skarsgård, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Willem Dafoe and Björk in the thriller film The Northman, directed by Robert Eggers. She will also star in and serve as executive producer on four upcoming television series: the drama miniseries Expats, which is currently in production, the thriller miniseries Pretty Things, based on the upcoming novel of the same name by Janelle Brown, the anthology series Roar, based on Cecelia Ahern's 2018 book of short stories, and the family-drama series Things I Know To Be True, based on the Australian play of the same name. Unlike her other television projects, Things I Know To Be True is envisioned as an ongoing series with multiple seasons rather than a miniseries.