Nicole Mary Kidman was born on June 20, 1967 in Honolulu, Hawaii to Antony and Janelle Kidman. Nicole was given the Hawaiian name of Hokulani which means “heavenly star”. Shortly after Nicole’s birth the Kidman family moved to Washington D.C. where they lived for a few years before returning to the family’s homeland in Sydney, Australia when Nicole was four years old. Nicole’s sister Antonia joined the family when Nicole was three years old.
At the age of four Nicole started taking ballet lessons and took up drama and mime at the Australian Theatre for Young People in Sydney. She had her first acting role at the age of five years old where she played a sheep in a nativity play at her school. Nicole shared about this experience, “I was one of those terrible kids who said everyone’s lines.” While she had a great love for all of the arts during her growing up years when she reached high school she found acting to be a refuge for her and she regularly worked at the Philip Street Theatre. It was here that she received encouragement which gave her the desire to become an actress.
She landed her first leading role at the age of 15 in the film Bush Christmas. It was around this time that she met Naomi Watts at an open call for a bathing-suit ad, Naomi would become one of her best friends. The two went on to co-star together in the film Flirting. Naomi talked about their friendship at that time, “Nic was incredibly generous in introducing me to people and showing me that an Aussie girl from around the corner can make it big.”
When she was 17 years old her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She tried to be available to her mother during this hard time and the experience deeply affected her. “I think that was the pivotal point in my life because I was about to lose — or thought I would lose — the most important person in my family, the heartbeat of my family.” Luckily Janelle recovered and since that time Nicole has used her voice to raise support for Breast Cancer awareness.
Nicole’s career progressed as she was cast in various films and television shows including BMX Bandits, Five Mile Creek, and the mini-series Vietnam. Vietnam earned Nicole her first Australian Film Institute Award for best actress.
Nicole’s success transferred to the United States in her breakout performance opposite of Sam Neill in the film Dead Calm. During her promotional tour for Dead Calm Nicole was called to meet with Tom Cruise. Nicole shared her reaction at being told that Tom wanted to meet her, “I thought, Wow! This is America! Tom Cruise wants to meet me. He made Top Gun and Cocktail—the films I grew up watching.” Nicole went on to co-star with Tom in the film Days of Thunder. During filming Nicole and Tom started to date. “He basically swept me off my feet. I fell madly, passionately in love.” The couple had a whirlwind romance. Nicole shared, “I was reeling with Tom, I would have gone to the ends of the earth for him.” The couple married on December 24, 1990.
Five months after they were married they started filming the film, “Far and Away”. The propsman from the set shared, “One day, director Ron Howard was saying, ‘Come on, let’s do a bit of work’. Tom and Nicole were kissing. Finally, one of the truck drivers said, ‘Somebody get a bucket of water—quick!”
In 1991, Nicole suffered an ectopic pregnancy which led to Tom and Nicole making the decision to adopt. They adopted two children during their marriage, their daughter Isabella Jane was born on December 22, 1992 and their son Connor Antony was born on January 17, 1995. Nicole has always been proud of her children and in 2014 said, “They are generous, kind and hardworking. And these are traits that I love to see in my children.”
Nicole continued showing her abilities and range as an actress as she took on new roles the next few years. She portrayed a wife whose husband is dying in My Life, as the Lady Isabel Archer in The Portrait of the Lady, a criminal psychiatrist in Batman Forever, and a witch in Practical Magic.
In 1999 Nicole and Tom paired up again for Stanley Kubrick’s sexual thriller Eyes Wide Shut. The shoot took 15 months to complete filming. Stanley Kubrick had Tom and Nicole confess to him their fears about marriage and commitment which he used to psychoanalyze the two stars. Nicole shared about those conversations between the three of them, “Tom would hear things that he didn’t want to hear. It wasn’t like therapy, because you didn’t have anyone to say, ‘And how do you feel about that?’ It was honest, and brutally honest at times.” Kubrick forced the two stars away from each other for days on the set to exaggerate the distrust between them so it could carry into their characters. Cruise & Kidman gave themselves over to Kubrick. Todd Field shared about the couple, “You’ve never seen two actors more completely subservient and prostrate themselves at the feet of a director.” Sadly Mr. Kubrick passed away shortly after filming completed for the film. Nicole was devastated by his death, “I truly loved Stanley and felt very connected to him. He was in our lives intensely for about four years.”
Nicole’s next film was the Baz Luhrmann musical Moulin Rouge where she starred as a courtesan opposite Ewan McGregor. Nicole has spoken about how uncomfortable she was at singing for the film, “Moulin Rouge was really hard for me because singing is not something that comes naturally to me. It is so frightening to have to sing in front of people. I get terrified.” Baz talked about deciding to cast Nicole in the film, “When we were together 10 years ago, doing the Vogue shoot, and I always thought, god, she’s funny, and I love the fact that to most actors, there’s another side to them, and there’s a big side to Nicole that we hadn’t seen, but, the role required so many things. She had to be funny in a physical comedy sense, tragic as well as that, she had to be able to dance and sing and look terrific.” While the singing was demanding, the filming was also physically demanding and Nicole tore the cartilage in her knee and fractured a rib during rehearsals prior to shooting which caused filming to be halted for two weeks. When she returned to set many of the scenes were shot while she was in a wheelchair and she appears in the film from the chest up. Nicole ended up breaking the rib again getting into a corset, “I had this thing that I wanted to get my waist down to 18 inches, which Vivian Leigh had on Gone with the Wind and I was just like, “tighter, tighter!”‘ Nicole earned a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy and was nominated for her first Academy Award for her work in the film.
On Christmas Eve 2000, Tom & Nicole celebrated their 10-year anniversary by renewing their wedding vows. In a surprise to almost everyone just weeks later on February 5, 2001 the couple announced their split. The couple’s spokeswoman shared a statement which said, “Citing the difficulties inherent in divergent careers which constantly kept them apart, they concluded that an amicable separation seemed best for both of them at this time.” Tom filed for divorce from Nicole in a Los Angeles court, citing irreconcilable differences. This was an extremely difficult time for Nicole and she started to try and hide in her characters. “To be completely honest, I was running away from my life at that time. I wasn’t able to handle the reality of my life. As an actor, the wonderful thing is you can become something else for a time. Out of that came work that was applauded so that was an interesting thing for me.” She went on to her role as Virginia Woolf in the Hours.
Not only was this an emotional role as she played the author but it required her to wear a prosthetic nose, a brown wig, and spend hours in the makeup chair. “I felt myself opening up. I’ve always had a lot of things bubbling inside of me, but for whatever reason I didn’t allow them to come out. At the moment I am willing to expose myself and give, like, blood.” Nicole gave a phenomenal performance as the suicidal author which would go on to have her work applauded and earn her an Academy Award for Best Actress. The director Stephen Daldry shared, “Nicole is a movie star, but unlike a number of movie stars, she is a transforming actress. The combination is incredibly rare. The fact that she manages to make such a transformation in this role confirms her as possibly one of the major actors of her generation. It is an unusual and brilliant skill.”
Nicole was the first Australian women to earn an Academy Award. Nicole talked about the experience and how lonely it made her feel. “Winning the Oscar was a turning point, but not in terms of my life as an actor, because it was incredibly validating, but it actually symbolized loneliness to me because I didn’t have anyone to share it with at that stage in my life.”
Her career continued to thrive as she moved forward with roles in Dogville, The Human Stain, and Birth, Cold Mountain, and Fur. She tried her hands at some comedy with roles in The Stepford Wives and Bewitched.
In January of 2005, Nicole met country artist Keith Urban at the G’Day LA event. Keith has shared that for him it was love at first sight. Nicole shares that it took Keith four months to actually call her. It didn’t take long for the couple to realize that they wanted to get married. The couple announced their engagement to the public in May of 2006 and married in Sydney, Australia on June 25, 2006. Keith shared his feelings about marrying Nicole, “Meeting her and getting married [is when my life began]. [It] wasn’t life-changing, it was life-beginning. It was literally, like, ‘OK, life starts.'”
A few months after their marriage, on October 19, 2006, Keith made the decision to get treated at the Betty Ford Center for alcohol addiction. “I was going to lose it all. It was like, ‘If I don’t choose this moment to do the right thing and do something that’s going to give me life, all of the things I’m scared of losing, I’m going to lose anyway.” Nicole was very supportive of Keith’s recovery and shared, “I’ve learned an enormous amount having a relationship with someone who is in recovery. I’m more than willing to walk it with him.”
In January 2006, Nicole was appointed as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador. Nicole was honored by this appointment. Executive Director Noeleen Heyzer shared at a press conference announcing Nicole’s appointment, “We are honoured to have Nicole join the UNIFEM family. Her role is to raise awareness of the pressing issues that women face around the world and to amplify the message that the contribution of women is essential to development, to the building of just and peaceful societies.”
In 2007, Nicole started filming the Baz Luhrmann film Australia. During filming Nicole learned that she was pregnant. “I was very lucky that, that that happened to me because I didn’t think that was gonna happen in my lifetime. I didn’t think I’d get to give birth to a, to a child. So yeah, this is my favorite film I’ve ever made for the rest of my life.” In January of 2008 Nicole and Keith released a statement sharing their exciting news, “Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban confirmed today that they are expecting a baby. The couple are thrilled.” The couple welcomed their daughter Sunday Rose Kidman-Urban on July 7, 2008. Keith shared the reasoning behind the name they had chosen for their daughter, “For me, Sunday used to be the loneliest day of the week because nobody’s hanging out on a Sunday. They’re all with their families and I used to dread Sundays. But when I met Nic, it became my favorite day of the week because we always spent it together.”
To the surprise of all of their fans Nicole & Keith announced the arrival of their second daughter, Faith Margaret Kidman Urban. Faith was born on December 28, 2010 via a surrogate. The couple released a statement, “Our family is truly blessed, and just so thankful, to have been given the gift of baby Faith Margaret. No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier.”
With the growth of her family, Nicole continued growing as an actress in various roles. She was nominated for her third Academy Award for her role in the film Rabbit Hole, a film she not only starred in but produced. In 2010, Nicole started the production company Blossom Films.
In 2014 Nicole appeared as the Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly in the film Grace of Monaco. The film screened at the Cannes Film Festival and was surrounded by negative press as the royal family of Monaco released a statement criticizing it, “It recounts one rewritten and needlessly glamorised page in the history of Monaco and its family with both major historical inaccuracies and a series of purely fictional scenes.” At a press conference Nicole was asked about the royal family’s statement in which she responded, “I feel sad, because I think the film has no malice toward the family, particularly toward Grace or Rainier … I still have respect, and I want them to know the performance was done with love.” Drama continued to surround the film and unfortunately instead of a big screen release it was released on the Lifetime Television network in 2015.
When Nicole talks about 2014 she shares, “Personally [it’s been] really, really, really hard. My family underwent a massive tragedy. So not my favorite year. But I try not to be ungrateful — I’m grateful to be alive.” Nicole is talking about the sudden death of her father Antony Kidman. During a visit to Singapore to visit his daughter Antonia, Antony passed away at the age of 75 on September 12, 2014. Nicole shares how Keith was a great support to her during this difficult time. “I had a husband that came right back. I called him screaming and crying. And he was about to go on stage. And he walked off stage and he got on a plane — he had just gotten there. He flew six hours and he was right back there. And he literally picked me up and pretty much carried me through the next two weeks.” Sadly, approximately one year later Keith lost his father Robert.
After experiencing this great loss Nicole found respite in making the film Paddington. “I just wanted to make a film for my kids. … I hadn’t made a film that had made people feel good for a long time. I’ve made films that are darker in tone. So it’s really nice to be able to make a film where you can say ‘Yeah, bring your kids.'”
In 2015, Nicole starred on the stage in an original West End production called Photograph 51. Nicole received the Evening Standard Award as Best Actress for her performance. The New York Times applauded her performance, “Among movie stars of her generation, she stands out for the relentless determination she projects; she seduces audiences not by charm but by concentration.” Nicole said she took this role for her father, and that every night before each performance she would kneel before the photograph of her late father. “I did this for him … he would give me the strength to do this every night.”
2016 brought the release of her film Lion which quickly gained Oscar buzz. “It has been so easy to promote this film and talk about it. It is love. It is about unity and family, about the power of mothering.” Sue Brierley, the woman whom Nicole portrays in the film has become a friend of Nicole’s and has shared how she wanted Nicole to play the part and how good Nicole’s performance was. “The intensity of her portrayal was almost a bit too close to the bone. With the first screening of the first edit, I was really quite legless after that — I got the shakes and a real shock thing happening. Someone had to go and get me some water.” Lion earned Nicole another Academy Award nomination.
“It’s been an extraordinary journey, my life, from a little girl who grew up in Sydney and sort of watched the Academy Awards on TV when I was just seven years old – to have actually come that whole distance is extraordinary.”
This biography was written by Ali exclusively for Nicole Kidman Online. The information was taken and compiled from articles from magazines and the internet.