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Beguiling Facts About Nicole Kidman, The Australian Rose

Alexa Terpanjian

From the moment she first appeared on screen, audiences have been captivated by Nicole Kidman. Since then, she’s steadily appeared in both blockbuster and award-bait films. She also shows no signs of slowing down, even with a life of incredible highs and remarkable lows, like her very public divorce from Tom Cruise. Despite these ups and downs, Kidman just keeps living with an open heart—find out how in these facts about Nicole Kidman.


Nicole Kidman Facts

1. She Wasn’t Born in Australia

When it comes to Nicole Kidman, we often think of her distinctive Australian accent—but she was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1967. At the time, her Australian parents were in the US because her father was studying there. When she was four, they brought her back to Australia, where they settled in Sydney—the city where Kidman would spend her formative years. She was more well-traveled than most of us by the time she was just a toddler!

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2. She Got Inspiration From an Unlikely Source

When Nicole Kidman first saw The Wizard of Oz, it wasn’t the character of Dorothy or Glinda the Good Witch that she fell in love with and idolized—it was actually the Wicked Witch of the West who left a lasting impression on her. Kidman has said that after seeing Margaret Hamilton’s performance as the Wicked Witch, she was inspired to pursue acting.

That’s exactly what she did, appearing in stage productions throughout her time in school.

3. She Found a Lifelong Friend

There was another life-changing moment for Kidman when she was still in school. When she was a teen attending North Sydney Girls High School, she was already going out for auditions for local TV and film productions. She often spotted one of her classmates there and befriended her—a girl by the name of Naomi Watts. The two have remained friends through thick and thin ever since.

4. Everything Changed in an Instant

While it’s easy for us to see with hindsight that Kidman would become a huge success, she took a huge chance when she was in her teens and dropped out of high school to pursue her acting ambitions—and it paid off. Not only was she cast in a remake of a beloved Australian Christmas film, she also got a role in a TV series. At just 16,  Kidman was already a working actress, and big things were on the horizon—but then she suddenly left the screen, all for a heartbreaking reason.

5. She Nearly Lost Her Mother

In 1984, the Kidman family’s lives were thrown into chaos when Nicole’s mother Janelle was diagnosed with breast cancer. Strangely enough, Kidman’s biochemist father had spent years researching the disease when the family lived in the US. Immediately, Kidman quit acting and began to study massage so that she could help her mother on the road to recovery.

Luckily, Janelle eventually beat the disease—and Kidman was able to return to her budding career.

6. She Was Ready for Anything

Nicole Kidman may have been young, but she was more than willing to take risks on screen—including as the scandalous lead in the romantic comedy Windrider. The then-19-year-old actress appeared in some racy scenes with co-star Tom Burlinson, who was 11 years her senior. The movie was risqué enough that the cinematographer later expressed his regrets at how far they’d gone.

Nicole Kidman FactsWindrider (1986), Hoyts Distribution

7. She Downplayed Her Age

Kidman defended her role in the film, saying that she was prepared to play much older characters, “if not physically, then mentally.” There was likely a good reason that she wanted to downplay her young age—after all, according to rumors, 19-year-old Kidman and 30-year-old Burlinson had begun to secretly date while making the film. The relationship didn’t last though, and as we all know, he wouldn’t be the last Tom in Kidman’s life.

8. He Spotted Her

Throughout the late 80s, Kidman continued to appear in Australian films, gaining critical praise for her appearance in the star-studded thriller Dead Calm—but she caught more than just the critics’ eyes. When a young star named Tom Cruise saw the film, he knew that he wanted to cast her in his next movie, Days of Thunder. It would be a life-changing role, in more ways than one.

9. She Was Dismissed

Kidman loved to intensively prepare for her roles—she had learned how to sail for Dead Calm—but when she suggested that she learn a bit about neurosurgery for her role as Dr. Claire Lewicki in Days of Thunder, legendary producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer brushed her off. Of course, at the time, the two were partying hard with star Tom Cruise most nights.

Regardless, the film was a huge success, and Kidman’s career in the US immediately took off—but she was more than a little distracted by life behind the scenes.

10. She Fell Hard

When Kidman was auditioning for her role in Days of Thunder, co-star Tom Cruise had pulled up in a Porsche to meet her—and the actress later revealed the truth behind their first encounter. Kidman claimed that she fell in love with the movie star at first sight and that the relationship consumed her life entirely—but there was just one problem.

11. They Rushed Into It

When they met, Cruise was still married to actress Mimi Rogers—and there were rumors that his romance with Kidman began before he was even separated from Rogers. Regardless, he eventually divorced Rogers. Less than a year after the divorce was final, Kidman and Cruise got married. She was just 22 years old. It was like a fairytale for Kidman, who was head over heels for her new beau—but Cruise had kept some baggage from his first marriage. It had been Rogers who introduced him to Scientology.

12. She Kept Her Distance

After Cruise’s first wife introduced him to Scientology, he became active in the organization. It’s reported that Scientologists had identified Kidman as a potential trouble source, since her father was a psychologist—and Scientology has denounced both psychology and psychiatry. The pair married anyway, and Cruise became less involved with the church—at least at first. It would later come back to spell big trouble for Kidman.

13. She Towered Over Him

Standing tall at 5’10”, Kidman was already 5’9″ when she was only 13 years old, quickly earning her the nickname “Stalky” in high school for being taller and lankier than all her classmates. This put her four inches taller than Cruise, and for the entirety of their marriage, she never wore heels on the red carpet, which put them closer together in height.

14. She’s Flirted With Danger

Tom Cruise is a notorious daredevil, doing pretty much all of his own stunts in the Mission: Impossible series, and it looks like this is one thing that he and Kidman had in common. Some of the most dangerous things Kidman has ever done in her life include jumping out of a plane, racing around a car track at 200 mph, and scuba diving with sharks.

15. She Wanted a Family

After their success appearing together in Days of Thunder, Kidman and Cruise went on to star in the epic Far and Away—but that wasn’t the only thing that they were working on together. They decided to adopt a baby girl that they named Isabella Jane in 1992.

16. They Were Finally a Family

Kidman took to motherhood right away, and the little trio became a family—but Cruise and Kidman weren’t quite done. Despite their gruelling work schedules, they decided to expand. A few years later, in 1995, they adopted a baby boy named Connor Anthony. Finally, their family unit was complete—but sadly, it couldn’t last forever.

17. She Became a Superstar

Cruise and Kidman were busy building their family, but she needed to build her career in Hollywood. He was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but she had yet to really hit it big—that is, until she was cast in Batman Forever in 1995. Appearing in the superhero film cemented her as an A-lister, but Kidman wanted a lot more out of her career.

18. It Was Made for Her

In 1995, Nicole Kidman got a role that she was absolutely meant to play—and we mean that seriously. In the novel To Die For, the lead character states that, if her life was made into a movie, she’d want to be played by “that actress that just got married to Tom Cruise in real life.” When the novel was being made into a film, Kidman knew what she had to do.

19. She Begged for the Role

Kidman became convinced that To Die For would be the critical breakthrough that would put her at the top come awards season—and she went to great lengths to get the part. She ended up asking around for director Gus Van Sant’s home number. Once she got him on the phone, she spent 40 minutes attempting to convince him to cast her.

Her cold call paid off, and a few hours later, Van Sant called back to tell her that she got the part.

20. She Was Snubbed

The film was a success, and got Kidman the critical acclaim that she craved. It earned her a BAFTA nomination and a Golden Globe win for Best Actress—but when the Oscar nominations came out, Kidman was conspicuously absent. It was a crushing blow, but she ended up receiving something of a consolation prize.

21. She Had Fans in High Places

Soon after, she received a mysterious note from a fan. The only thing that it said was: “You were robbed.” The fan that wrote it? None other than Sean Penn. Kidman later remarked that hearing praise like that from such an accomplished actor was just as good as an Oscar nomination.

22. He Protected Her

In the wake of the Me Too movement, Nicole Kidman shared that she’d been shielded from a lot of the harassment that many of her contemporaries had suffered when she was coming up in the movie business. She attributed it to her marriage to Tom Cruise, who was one of the most powerful men in Hollywood at the time. Kidman confessed that after their divorce, she had to grow up in certain ways, without him there to shield her.

23. She Kept Moving Up

When Kidman was just a teenager acting in stage productions, an audience member by the name of Jane Campion had remarked upon her talent. Well, about 15 years later, that audience member ended up becoming an acclaimed director. Campion cast Kidman in her film version of the Henry James novel The Portrait of a Lady, cementing her status as a prestige actress. However, the production was incredibly hard on Kidman.

24. She Was in Severe Pain

To play Isabel Archer, Nicole Kidman had to get dressed up in all the accessories expected of a 19th-century lady every day on set, including a corset that squeezed her waist so much that she was able to get it down to 19 inches. Still, she gave it her all, but the work was utterly brutal, and the consequences were dire.

25. She Was Ready to Drop

At this point, Nicole Kidman was still a relatively new mother to two young children, who she was rarely separated from, even while working. She’d also filmed Batman Forever, To Die For, and The Portrait of a Lady almost back to back—and finally, it all caught up with her. After finishing The Portrait of a Lady, Kidman was so exhausted that she had to spend two weeks in bed.

Doctors wound up diagnosing her with what they called “emotional stress”—but it was nothing compared to what was waiting for her further down the road.

26. She Made a Famous Friend

Luckily, Kidman’s next role was a little easier on her both personally and professionally—a thriller called The Peacemaker co-starring George Clooney. The pair got along famously and would even go out dancing late at night. Clooney reportedly respected Kidman’s acting chops so much that he never pulled one of his infamous pranks on her.

For her part, Kidman bet notorious bachelor Clooney $10,000 that he’d be married with kids by the age of 40—a bet which he ended up winning. Sorry, Nic!

27. She’s Fun on Set

Nicole Kidman seems like a blast to work with. Following The Peacemaker, Kidman appeared in the now-cult classic film Practical Magic alongside Sandra Bullock. Bullock later revealed that in the famous scene where she, Kidman, and the aunts drink margaritas, they actually wound up getting drunk—because Kidman had showed up with a bottle of cheap tequila for the sake of “authenticity.”

28. It Was Supposed to Be Their Masterpiece

Director Griffin Dunne remarked that during the filming of Practical Magic, Nicole Kidman often needed more takes to complete her scenes than her co-stars did. He attributed this to the last film that she’d worked on, with acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick. The movie, although completed, would still take almost two years to come out.

It was Eyes Wide Shut—a wildly controversial film that would forever change Kidman’s career and life.

29. He Was Demanding

Stanley Kubrick had made a proposal to Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that should not have been particularly appealing for two superstars known for making yearly appearances in hit movies. Kubrick told them they could appear as the leads in his next film, but they couldn’t even so much sign up for another movie until it was completed.

Regardless, they jumped at the chance to work with the acclaimed director. They had no idea what they were getting into.

30. It Was a Gruelling Shoot

Eyes Wide Shut had been in the making for three decades by the time that Kidman and Cruise were cast in the lead roles of the psychological drama—but just because the cameras were finally on, that didn’t mean the film would be a breeze to make. Kubrick would demand up to 70 or 80 takes from Kidman per scene—while most other directors tend to keep it below 10. And that was just the start of the torturous production.

31. It Monopolized Everything

The film began shooting in November 1996 and was finally completed in June 1998. It actually appears in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest constant movie shoot. The production completely took over Kidman and Cruise’s lives, and even when they were done the shoot, the battle wasn’t over yet.

32. They Were the Subject of Scrutiny

The film was the subject of many controversies, including over the studio’s censorship of the notorious scene featuring a racy secret society party—but the battles were also taking place in the tabloids, where dark rumors about Kidman and Cruise ran rampant. The length of the shoot had raised eyebrows, and there were reports that a sex therapist had been brought in to guide the couple through their intimate scenes together, as they allegedly didn’t have enough chemistry to make them seem realistic.

33. They Bit Back

Rumors about Cruise’s romantic proclivities had plagued him since his marriage to Mimi Rogers, and they persisted throughout his marriage to Nicole Kidman. There were also rumors that he was impotent and sterile—but this latest rumor was the straw that broke the camel’s back. They sued both The Star and Express newspapers for libel.

The couple eventually won undisclosed sums in both lawsuits that they later donated to charity. It was a small victory—but it would soon be followed by a crushing blow.

34. She’s Still Timid

Perhaps some of Kidman’s acting talent comes from her painfully shy childhood and her ability to create a world of her own, an ability that still spills into her adult life and her career. Kidman has confessed that she still doesn’t like walking into a crowded restaurant by herself or going to a party on her own.

Her shyness has sometimes been misinterpreted as coldness…but that’s not the whole truth.

35. She’s Been Mischaracterized

Kidman has even been labeled as an “ice queen” while on the red carpet—but there’s a surprising reason behind her aloof behavior. The actress is near-sighted, and for many years, she did nothing to correct her vision, preferring only to wear glasses when she needed to drive or read a teleprompter. She eventually had Lasik surgery, restoring her vision to 20/20—and immediately remarked that being able to wave back when people waved at her was a big life change. Guess she’s not a snob after all!

36. It Didn’t Go As Planned

After so much work on Eyes Wide Shut, the film’s release should’ve been a dream come true for Kidman and Cruise—but instead, it quickly turned into an unmitigated nightmare. The controversies surrounding Eyes Wide Shut overshadowed the movie itself, along with the passing of director Stanley Kubrick. It was something of a flop (although critical re-evaluation has led to acclaim since).

Regardless, Kidman and Cruise had the future to look forward to, each having been cast in upcoming blockbusters—plus, their ten-year wedding anniversary was approaching.

37. She Caught His Eye

After the release of Eyes Wide Shut, Kidman appeared in a Broadway production of the play The Blue Room—and it earned her some unwanted attention. After Hugh Hefner attended one night and saw Kidman’s nude scenes in the play, he sought her out to ask her to pose for Playboy. She refused his offer.

38. They Called It Quits

It was reported that Kidman and Cruise celebrated their ten year anniversary together by renewing their vows on Christmas Eve, 2000, and that a few days later, they were seen out in Vegas together, going on ride after ride on the Stratosphere hotel’s roller coaster. But less than two months later, they made an announcement that shocked both fans and tabloids.

After a decade together, Cruise and Kidman were separating.

39. He Laid the Blame on Her

To say the tabloids went insane would be an understatement. All the old rumors about the couple emerged yet again, and new ones began to brew as well, including a rumor that Kidman had been unfaithful. For his part, Cruise did nothing to discourage the tabloids. When he finally broke his silence about the reasons behind the separation, one sentence was so brutal that it’s impossible to forget. He said: “Nicole knows why.”

40. It All Happened at Once

Just two days after announcing the separation, Tom Cruise announced that he had filed for divorce from Nicole Kidman, citing irreconcilable differences. Kidman was devastated by the news—and her heartbreak would only get worse. She was pregnant at the time of the separation. Soon after the announcement, she suffered a miscarriage.

41. She Was Blindsided

Kidman was devastated and overwhelmed—she hadn’t expected Cruise to announce his intent to divorce her so suddenly. While he continued to work and make appearances, she canceled photoshoots and pulled out of films, although she cited a knee injury for this. As the pair fought out the divorce in court, dark details about their final days together emerged. While it had been reported that they’d spent their tenth anniversary together, Cruise argued that they’d separated shortly before that. It immediately raised eyebrows.

42. He Pulled a Quick One

The probable reason behind this strange argument about timing is surprisingly brutal. In California, divorces that don’t involve pre-nuptial agreements change significantly if the marriage lasts longer than ten years. Lasting for 10 years hugely changes the financial responsibility of one party in the divorce toward the other. In other words, by claiming that they’d never hit their decade anniversary, Cruise wouldn’t have to pay Kidman alimony. The divorce only got nastier from there.

43. She Couldn’t Shake Them

For her part, Kidman remained tight-lipped about the split for the sake of her two kids, Isabella and Connor. She began to rebuild her life with the help of her close friends Naomi Watts, who she stayed with, and Hugh Jackman—but she still couldn’t escape the unwanted attention from the tabloids.

44. She Got Back at Them

When Kidman began to make the film Cold Mountain, rumors spread that she’d had an affair with co-star Jude Law, who was married at the time. Kidman sued The Daily Mail for libel when they printed the allegations, and eventually won her case, once again donating the money she’d gotten for damages to charity. When will these tabloids learn?

45. She Was Finally Free

In August of 2001, Cruise and Kidman’s divorce was finalized. While they have remained relatively quiet about the split, both have claimed that they remain friendly for the sake of their children, and that it was not any one thing that led to the divorce. It was clearly a devastating time for Kidman, but also a liberating one—now infamous-photos were printed of Kidman leaving her lawyer’s office after signing the divorce papers, looking quite ecstatic.

46. She Had A Rough Ride

Following the divorce, Kidman threw herself into her career, and it really paid off. She was nominated for her first Academy Award for Moulin Rouge!—and to say she worked hard for it would be an understatement. Not only did Kidman break two ribs on set, she also injured her knee during a musical number and had to film some scenes from a wheelchair.

47. She Tricked Them

Kidman followed up this performance with the eerie horror The Others and the drama The Hours, for which she donned a prosthetic nose. She actually found it handy to wear when she wasn’t filming. Paparazzi failed to recognize her when it was on. For The Hours, Kidman finally won the coveted Best Actress Oscar…and things finally began to turn around for her.

48. She Bounced Back

After Kidman got back on her feet, she was linked with a number of men. These included Hollywood playboy Steve Bing and musician Lenny Kravitz. Kidman even revealed that she was secretly engaged during this time, likely to Kravitz. None of them lasted until she met country musician Keith Urban. After a year and a half of dating, the pair wed in Sydney in June 2006…but the marriage got off to a very rocky start.

49. He Had His Personal Demons

Just months into their new marriage, Urban revealed that he had a disturbing dark side. Kidman realized that Urban had a destructive substance abuse issue. It was a horrible period of their life together, and the already-fragile Kidman was pushed to the edge by the devastating revelation.

50. She Helped Him Through It

Luckily for Urban, Kidman wasn’t willing to give up on him. She decided to stage an intervention for her new husband. He listened, and immediately checked into rehab. The news made it to the tabloids, but Urban got through the program, and has reportedly been sober ever since.

51. He’d Be Screwed In More Than One Way

There may be more than one reason why Urban has been able to keep himself in check. Kidman and Urban have a pre-nup agreement that for every year of marriage, Urban is eligible for $640,000—however, if he relapses at all, in any way, that entire part of the contract becomes null and void. If he were ever to touch an illicit substance, not only would he lose Kidman—he’d lose a whole lot of money.

52. She Finally Had Kids

After her struggles to conceive when she was with Cruise, Kidman was ecstatic when she finally became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter with Urban. They named their baby girl Sunday Rose in 2008. Hoping to avoid another risky pregnancy, Kidman and Urban had another child via gestational surrogacy in 2010. They named her Faith Margaret.

53. She Lost Someone

In the midst of life with her growing family, Kidman suffered a devastating loss. In 2014, her father suddenly passed of a heart attack while visiting her sister Antonia in Singapore. The Kidman family’s nightmare didn’t end there. Less than a year later, Antonia’s ex-husband and the father of her four children also suffered a heart attack and passed suddenly.

54. They Had a Huge Scare

Losing two important members of the family to heart attacks was a crushing blow—but their ordeal continued. In 2016, Kidman’s mother Janelle was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. Luckily, Kidman’s sister was visiting at the time and was able to care for Janelle, who later recovered.

55. They’re Never Apart

There’s one thing that the marriages between Kidman and Cruise and Kidman and Urban have in common. It’s not just the constant tabloid rumors about divorce. When Kidman and Cruise wed, they vowed to never spend more than a couple of weeks apart from each other. This is a vow that Kidman also adheres to in her marriage with Urban. She considers it an extremely important part of their relationship.

56. She Has Wandering Lips

In 2017, Nicole Kidman made headlines again when she was seen kissing a man on the lips at the Emmys. That man was most definitely not Keith Urban. Granted, the man was her Big Little Lies co-star Alexander Skarsgard. It was right after Skarsgard won an Emmy, and Urban was standing right beside her. Still, some people found it strange that Kidman congratulated Skarsgard with a full-on kiss.

When asked about the incident on The Graham Norton Show, Kidman protested,  “I kissed my husband too!”  She continued, “I did kiss [Skarsgard], but you gotta understand, I did everything with Alex [while on set].” She then confirmed, “I’ve got an amazing, supportive, gorgeous husband who I love more than anything in the world.”

57. She Suffered a Tragic Loss

In the early 90s, everything was going great for Kidman. She was still in the honeymoon phase with Cruise and was in demand in Hollywood. Things got even better when she found out that she was pregnant—but sadly, tragedy was lurking around the corner. Kidman suffered from an ectopic pregnancy and lost the baby. She kept what happened a secret until after her divorce from Cruise.

58. They Were Listening

The tabloids often blamed Scientology for Kidman’s divorce from Tom Cruise. Very little was known about the split’s awful details—until former Scientologists revealed that Cruise and the Church of Scientology had actually tapped Kidman’s phone toward the end of their marriage without her knowledge.

59. She Lost More Than Just Cruise

During her marriage to Cruise, Kidman had claimed that her religion was a little bit of everything. She said there was a lot of Catholicism, some Buddhism, and even some Scientology. Following the divorce, she distanced herself from Scientology—and it led to devastating consequences. Kidman’s adopted kids with Cruise, Connor and Isabella, are both very active Scientologists. In recent years, sad rumors have abounded about their relationship.

60. She Lets Them Do What They Want

It’s been claimed that her kids (or the Church of Scientology) have branded Kidman a “suppressive person” following her divorce from Cruise, and she hasn’t been seen in public with either of them for years, leading many to believe that they’re estranged. For her part, Kidman has defended her kids’ decisions, saying that they’re adults and that they’re allowed to make their own choices.

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