Nicole Kidman

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5 mins read

Nicole Mary Kidman AC was born 20 June 1967 and is an Australian-American actress and producer.

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 made her Hollywood debut in the racing film Days of Thunder, opposite Tom Cruise. She went on to achieve wider recognition with lead roles in Far and Away (1992), Batman Forever (1995), To Die For (1995), and Eyes Wide Shut (1999). Kidman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for portraying the writer Virginia Woolf in the drama The Hours (2002). Her other Oscar-nominated roles were as a courtesan in the musical Moulin Rouge! (2001) and emotionally troubled mothers in the dramas Rabbit Hole (2010) and Lion (2016).

Kidman’s other film credits include The Others (2001), Cold Mountain (2003), Dogville (2003), Birth (2004), Australia (2008), The Paperboy (2012), Stoker (2013), Paddington (2014), The Beguiled (2017), Boy Erased (2018), Destroyer (2018), and Aquaman (2018). Her television roles include two projects for HBO, the biopic Hemingway & Gellhorn (2012) and the drama series Big Little Lies (2017–2019). The latter earned Kidman the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress and Outstanding Limited Series.

Kidman has been a Goodwill ambassador for UNICEF since 1994 and for UNIFEM since 2006. In 2006, she was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia. Since she was born to Australian parents in Hawaii, Kidman has dual citizenship of Australia and the United States. In 2010, she founded the production company Blossom Films. She has been married to singer Keith Urban since 2006, and was earlier married to Tom Cruise.

She was born 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 was Antony Kidman (1938–2014), a biochemist, clinical psychologist and author, who died of a heart attack in Singapore aged 75. Kidman’s ancestry includes Irish and Scottish heritage.

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. 

At the time of Kidman’s birth, 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, a journalist and TV presenter. 

Kidman grew up in Sydney and attended Lane Cove Public School and North Sydney Girls’ High School. She was enrolled in ballet at three and showed her natural talent for acting in her primary and high school years. She says that she was first inspired to become an actress upon seeing 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 that she even had a stutter as a kid, which she slowly got over, but she still regresses into that shyness. So she doesn’t like walking into a crowded restaurant by herself and she doesn’t like going to a party by herself. 

She initially studied at the Phillip Street Theatre in Sydney. At Philip Street, Kidman studied 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 halls of the theatre. A regular at the Phillip Street Theatre, she received both encouragement and praise to pursue acting full-time.

In 1983, aged 16, 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 so she could 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 soap opera A Country Practice and the 1987 miniseries Vietnam. She also made guest appearances on Australian television programs and TV movies.

Kidman has raised money for, and drawn attention to, disadvantaged children around the world. In 1994, she was appointed a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF, and in 2004, she was honoured as a “Citizen of the World” by the United Nations. Kidman joined the Little Tee Campaign for breast cancer care to design T-shirts or vests to raise money to fight the disease; motivated by her mother’s own battle with breast cancer in 1984. 

In the 2006 Australia Day Honours, Kidman was appointed Companion of Order of Australia (AC) for “service to the performing arts as an acclaimed motion picture performer, to health care through contributions to improve medical treatment for women and children and advocacy for cancer research, to youth as a principal supporter of young performing artists, and to humanitarian causes in Australia and internationally”. However, due to film commitments and her wedding to Urban, it wasn’t until 13 April 2007 that she was presented with the honour. It was presented by the Governor-General of Australia, Major General Michael Jeffery, in a ceremony at Government House, Canberra. Kidman was appointed goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) in 2006. In this capacity, Kidman has addressed international audiences at UN events, raised awareness through the media and testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs to support the International Violence against Women Act. Kidman visited Kosovo in 2006 to learn about women’s experiences of conflict and UNIFEM’s support efforts. She is the international spokesperson for UNIFEM’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women initiative. Kidman and the UNIFEM executive director presented over five million signatures collected during the first phase of this to the UN Secretary-General on 25 November 2008.

In the beginning of 2009, Kidman appeared in a series of postage stamps featuring Australian actors. She, Geoffrey Rush, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett each appear twice in the series: once as themselves and once as their Academy Award-nominated character; Kidman’s second stamp showed her as Satine from Moulin Rouge!. On 8 January 2010, alongside Nancy Pelosi, Joan Chen and Joe Torre, Kidman attended the ceremony to help the Family Violence Prevention Fund break ground on a new international centre located in the Presidio of San Francisco. 

In 2015, Kidman became the brand ambassador for Etihad Airways. 

Kidman supports the Nashville Predators, being seen and photographed almost nightly throughout the season. Additionally, she supports the Sydney Swans in the Australian Football League and once served as a club ambassador.