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|Also Known As:||Nicole Mary Kidman||Died:|
|Born:||June 20, 1967||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||Honolulu, Hawaii, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor singer|
Australian actress Nicole Kidman consistently defied expectations throughout her career. Initially cast as the next big thing, she later enjoyed the double-edged honor of being known as Mrs. Tom Cruise, only to eventually be recognized as one of cinema's most powerful dramatic actresses. After garnering international acclaim for her role in the Australian thriller "Dead Calm" (1989), Kidman made her American debut in the Tom Cruise actioner "Days of Thunder" (1990). Although Kidman impressed with her performances in such films as "To Die For" (1995) and "The Portrait of a Lady" (1996), she could not quite escape the considerable shadow cast by her megastar husband. Kidman took a brief hiatus after her work in Stanley Kubrick's final film "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999) and her much publicized divorce from Cruise, only to return triumphant in director Baz Luhrmann's musical extravaganza "Moulin Rouge" (2001). From there it was on to a string of universally acclaimed performances in films that included "The Others" (2001), "The Hours" (2002) - for which she won a Best Actress Oscar - "Dogville" (2003), and "Cold Mountain" (2003). Following a period of inconsistent project choices, Kidman proved that she was still at the top of her game with her portrayal of a grieving mother in "Rabbit Hole" (2010), followed by solid work in films as varied as the family comedy "Paddington" (2014) and Werner Herzog's biographical epic "Queen of the Desert" (2015). Ultimately, Kidman succeeded in reinventing herself like few actresses had, starting out as a fashionable wife to the world's biggest movie star, only to wind up a respected actress in her own right, who continued to fascinate the public year after year.
A dual citizen of Australia and the United States - she was born on June 20, 1967 to Australian parents in Hawaii - Kidman spent her earliest years in Washington, D.C. before returning to Australia, where her father maintained a career as a biochemist and psychologist and her mother was a nursing instructor. Her performing career got an early start with ballet training at three and showed a natural talent for acting in her primary and high school years. In 1983, she debuted in the Australian kids' action-comedy, "BMX Bandits;" she soon made for an engaging juvenile lead in the popular holiday feature "Bush Christmas" (1983) and 12 episodes of the family series "Five Mile Creek" (7 Network, 1983-85). In 1984, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, which caused her to temporarily halt her higher education and help provide for the family by working as a massage therapist at age 17. After her mother's recovery, Kidman again pursued acting at Sydney's Australian Theatre for Young People.
By the mid-1980s, the pale-skinned redhead with the china doll face was a regular on Australian television, with notable appearances in several series and TV movies, including the girlfriend of a conscientious objector in the 1987 miniseries "Vietnam" (which began a series of collaborations with director John Duigan) and an alluring script girl in the comedy "Emerald City" (1988), which earned her a nomination from the Australian Film Institute. The following year proved to be a watershed for Kidman; she starred as a young Englishwoman sentenced to death for smuggling drugs in the acclaimed Australian miniseries "Bangkok Hilton" (1989); even more importantly, she garnered international acclaim in Phillip Noyce's tense thriller "Dead Calm," about a couple (Kidman and Sam Neill) who unknowingly rescue a shipwrecked psychopath (Billy Zane) who then torment them. After critics singled out Kidman's performance as the determined wife, Hollywood soon called for her talents. And at the forefront of that rush to sweep her up and bring her to the States was Hollywood's then biggest star, Tom Cruise, who had first noticed her in "Dead Calm" and insisted she be his next leading lady. Despite the fact that she was a relative nobody in the States and did not represent the typical bombshell leading lady of the day, Cruise got what he wanted.
Unfortunately, the American movie industry proved to be an awkward match for Kidman. Her first American feature, Tony Scott's "Days of Thunder" (1990), was a crass and over-amped NASCAR drama that gave her little to do than trade overwrought glances with her new benefactor, Tom Cruise. She returned briefly to John Duigan and Australia for "Flirting" (1991), his sequel to his charming coming-of-age movie "The Year My Voice Broke" (1987) in which she co-starred as a repressed student at a girls' boarding school. Also included in the cast was beautiful blonde actress Naomi Watts, with whom Kidman would remain a close friend after the two had met at an audition years before. Critics applauded her turn as a seductive moll to gangster Dutch Schultz in "Billy Bathgate" - even earning a Golden Globe nomination for her performance (which included her first onscreen nude scene) - but audiences and fans of the original E.L. Doctorow novel stayed away in droves. Her next few years were marked by mediocre projects and occasional box office success, including Ron Howard's overblown historical epic "Far and Away" (1992) with then husband Cruise, the medical thriller "Malice" (1993) opposite Alec Baldwin, the dreary melodrama "My Life" (1993) with Michael Keaton, and perhaps worst of all, Joel Schumacher's laughable "Batman Forever" (1995), with Val Kilmer as the Caped Crusader, Jim Carrey as The Riddler, and Kidman as a psychiatrist and love interest. Few could deny however, that no matter how bad the latter film, Kidman's softened fiery mane and glamour girl makeup showed a sexy new side to the actress.
No matter what quality work Kidman was racking up though, however, the most notable aspect of her Hollywood tenure in those days was her relationship with Cruise, which blossomed on the set of "Days of Thunder." By the time of the movie's release in 1990, the pair had married; by 1992, they had adopted a daughter, Isabella, and in 1995, a son, Connor, followed. Due to Cruise's stratospheric profile in the film industry, Kidman was soon a regular feature in magazines and tabloids, which frequently questioned her position on his well-publicized relationship with the Church of Scientology, as well as his sexual orientation. Regardless of the speculation, the couple enjoyed a lengthy and seemingly happy relationship for the remainder of the decade and well into the early 2000s. There was no denying that had she not had the world's biggest movie star on her arm, Kidman's talent - no matter how impressive - would not have fast-tracked like it did throughout the 1990s as the taller half of the most famous couple in the world.
Meanwhile, Kidman found more rewarding work in independent features, starting with Gus Van Sant's black comedy "To Die For," which earned her a Golden Globe win (and revived her standing in the eyes of critics) as a dense but ruthless weather girl who gains the national attention she craved by pressing a high schooler (Joaquin Phoenix) into murdering her husband (Matt Dillon). Her kinetic performance was so wacky and histrionic, that she was mesmerizing in a way she had never been before on screen. It was, in fact, this role in "To Die For" which truly made not only the Hollywood community - but moviegoers in general - perk up and notice her apart from her famous husband. Energized by the critical and popular acceptance, she then partnered with Jane Campion for a well-regarded adaptation of Henry James' "Portrait of a Lady" (1996), which saw her make significant changes to her appearance, including the donning of a corset to bring her waistline down to 19th-century proportions. "The Peacemaker" (1997), with George Clooney, and the supernatural comedy "Practical Magic" (1998) with Sandra Bullock, were agreeable, if easily forgettable, time wasters, but Kidman closed out the century by co-starring with Cruise in "Eyes Wide Shut" (1999), the final film effort by legendary director Stanley Kubrick. Unfortunately, the project generated more controversy for Cruise and Kidman's uncomfortable-to-watch awkward love scenes, following a tabloid allegation that the pair needed a "coach" to instruct them on convincing love-making following the release of the film. Not surprisingly, the litigious couple - more Cruise than Kidman - later sued for defamation and won. Not helping matters was an explicit orgy sequence that was clumsily edited for American audiences by Warner Bros. after Kubrick suddenly passed away after the film was in the can.
The media scrutiny surrounding Kidman and Cruise intensified even further when the couple separated in 2000 shortly before their tenth wedding anniversary. No cause aside from irreconcilable differences was given, though the press reported that Kidman was three months pregnant at the time of the separation and subsequently suffered a miscarriage. Other reports said the miscarriage preceded the divorce announcement, with Cruise filing in 2001, with his only public comment being the mysterious and often pondered, "Nic knows what she did." The marriage was dissolved in that same year, leaving Kidman seemingly devastated - particularly when the actor took up with yet another unknown star in his current film "Vanilla Sky" (2001) - Penelope Cruz. In interviews several years after their union came to an end, Kidman remarked that she bore Cruise no ill feelings, and still felt love for her former husband - but also remarked humorously at the time, that the one good thing about the marriage dissolution was that she could "finally wear heels again."
Kidman bounced back from this unfortunate turn of events - all of which went down during the publicity tours for her next film - the dazzling "Moulin Rouge" (2001), director Baz Luhrmann's visually stunning, post-modern musical about the doomed romance between a writer (Ewan McGregor) and a dancehall singer and courtesan (Kidman). Moviegoers swooned over the old-fashioned romance and musical numbers - something not seen or really accepted en mass on screen for many years. Even critics were wowed by Kidman's vocal skills; her duet with McGregor - the sweeping "Come What May" - was a massive hit in her native Australia and placed highly on numerous international charts, leading to a subsequent duet with UK pop sensation Robbie Williams on a cover of "Somethin' Stupid," from his 2001 album Swing When You're Winning. For her efforts, Kidman landed her first Oscar nomination and took home a Golden Globe.
"Moulin Rouge" truly marked the beginning of Kidman's career as a top box office draw. She followed the musical with a dramatic about-face as a terrified mother trapped in her own home by mysterious figures in Alejandro Amenabar's marvelous ghost story, "The Others" (2001), before returning to indie fare with the quirky thriller "Birthday Girl" (2002), in which she played a Russian mail order bride who makes trouble for her new husband (Ben Chaplin). That same year, Kidman buried her looks under layers of makeup to play the troubled author Virginia Woolf, whose life and work provides a link for women in the 1950s and the modern day in Stephen Daldry's acclaimed, "The Hours" (2002). An unrecognizable Kidman triumphed in the role, bringing home an Oscar for her intense performance - something her ex-husband had yet to win - as well as a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. The following year, she received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was honored by the American Cinematheque.
Kidman branched into producing with "In the Cut" (2003), Jane Campion's sexually charged thriller with Meg Ryan as a writing professor who has an affair with a cop investigating murders in her neighborhood. She also kept a hand in indie-minded fare by starring in Lars von Trier's controversial experimental drama "Dogville" (2003), as a gangster's moll who endures tremendous cruelty at the hands of the population of a small town; as well as a troubled cleaning woman who enters into an affair with a married college professor (Anthony Hopkins) in Robert Benton's poorly received adaptation of Philip Roth's "The Human Stain" (2003). That same year, she finally scored with the epic Civil War romance "Cold Mountain," which brought her another Golden Globe nod. The latter picture also brought her back to the tabloid pages with reports that she had indulged in an affair with her co-star, Jude Law, but Kidman fought back and won undisclosed damages from the UK paper that printed the rumor. However, Kidman did date rocker Lenny Kravitz during this period as well. It seemed to readers and fans that Kidman - as big a star as her ex - was finally enjoying the fruits of her labor - dating desirable men, being the go-to clotheshorse for top designers and having her pick of any parts in town.
From 2004 to 2006, Kidman's output varied wildly in both content and quality. She suffered through the disastrous remake of "The Stepford Wives" (2004) and her arthouse feature of the period, "Birth" (2004), which raised eyebrows for a scene in which 10-year-old actor Cameron Bright - whose character is believed to be a reincarnated adult - slips naked into a bath with Kidman (who earned a Golden Globe nod for her performance). "The Interpreter" (2005) was a moderately successful thriller by Sydney Pollack about a United Nations interpreter (Kidman) who becomes embroiled in an international assassination plot, while "Bewitched" (2005) was an unnecessarily convoluted adaptation of the classic television series (ABC, 1964-1972) which tanked miserably at the box office, despite a winning performance by Kidman and a cast that included Will Ferrell, Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine and Steve Carell. Despite what appeared to be a career slump, Kidman remained exceptionally popular with moviegoers, and highly paid for her efforts. In fact, 2006 and 2007 reports named her the highest paid actress in the film industry. She also won a place in the record books by becoming the highest paid actress per minute for her appearance in a series of television spots for the famed perfume, Chanel No. 5. Kidman's take for these commercials, which were noticeably directed by her old "Moulin Rouge" buddy Baz Luhrmann, was a reported $3.71 million.
In 2005, Kidman met Australian country singer Keith Urban at an event in Los Angeles. The pair began dating six months later, eventually marrying in 2006. Urban, who had struggled with drug addiction in previous years, checked himself into rehab later that year, emerging sober in early 2007. His new wife reportedly stood by his side, often visiting him in rehab. Kidman returned to features in 2006 with "Fur" (2006), an ambitious (if confusing) imagined biography of troubled photographer Diane Arbus. She later lent her speaking voice to the Marilyn Monroe-sound-a-like mother of Mumbles, the penguin protagonist of the Oscar-winning animated feature "Happy Feet" (2006), which also featured her crooning a version of the Prince hit "Kiss" with fellow Aussie co-star Hugh Jackman on its soundtrack. Kidman later paired with Daniel Craig for "The Invasion" (2007), a critically blasted remake of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956/1978) which was actually slated for a 2006 release, but studio-requested reshoots pushed its release to the following year. Kidman broke several ribs during a stunt sequence during the reshoots. The incident wasn't the first time Kidman had been injured during the making of a movie; she hurt her knee during one of the more complicated dance numbers in "Moulin Rouge," which forced her to drop out of David Fincher's thriller "Panic Room" (2002).
Kidman returned to arthouses with the comedy-drama "Margot at the Wedding" (2007) by "Squid and the Whale" (2005) director and screenwriter Noah Baumbach. In this film, Kidman was in familiar territory as a neurotic writer who clashes with her sister (Jennifer Jason Leigh) over her choice of fiancée (Jack Black). She then shifted gears to play a villainess (her first in her career) in the epic fantasy "The Golden Compass" (2007), an elaborate adaptation of Philip Pullman's The Northern Lights, the first novel in the massively popular His Dark Materials trilogy. In 2008, Luhrmann tapped Kidman to star in the World War II era epic "Australia" (2008), co-starring fellow Aussie and friend Hugh Jackman, but the expectedly elaborate production was a dismal failure with critics and only brought in box office numbers overseas. The actress gave birth to a daughter, Sunday Rose, with husband Keith Urban that summer and returned to theaters in 2009 in Rob Marshall's adaptation of the 1982 Tony Award-winning musical "Nine" (2009). Echoing its original source material, Federico Fellini's "8 ½" (1963), the film starred Daniel Day-Lewis as an aging filmmaker struggling to finish a film while preoccupied with complicated relationships with his wife (Marion Cotillard) and his film star muse (Kidman).
Her follow-up film was also based on a Tony-winning title, the dramatic play "Rabbit Hole" (2010). Kidman served as producer on John Cameron Mitchell's independent film adaptation, also starring opposite Aaron Eckhart as a couple grieving the loss of their only child in a car accident. The emotionally grueling performance earned Kidman well-deserved nominations for Best Actress from the Indie Spirit, Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild and Academy Awards following some of the most glowing reviews of her career. Less memorable was her supporting turn as Jennifer Aniston's long-time rival in the lightweight Adam Sandler romantic comedy "Just Go With It" (2011), followed by a starring role opposite Nicolas Cage in the box office dud "Tresspass" (2011). A claustrophobic thriller about a husband and wife (Cage and Kidman) whose bond is tested during a home invasion amid revelations of deceit and betrayal, "Trespass" was panned by critics and ignored by audiences, going from theatrical release to DVD in less than a month. After a brief voice cameo in the animated sequel "Happy Feet Two" (2011), Kidman shared screen time with Clive Owen in the title roles of the romantic biopic "Hemingway & Gellhorn" (HBO, 2012). In the period drama, Kidman played war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, whose romance with the revered American author (Owen) during the Spanish Civil War and eventual marriage inspired Hemingway's opus For Whom the Bell Tolls, a performance that delivered Kidman's first-ever Emmy Award nomination. Praised for her performance in the cable movie, Kidman went on to garner further acclaim as a sultry woman whose correspondence romance with a death row inmate (John Cusack) becomes a source of conflict for a pair of investigative reporters (Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron) in director Lee Daniels' Southern potboiler "The Paperboy" (2012). At year's end, both projects garnered Kidman Golden Globe nominations for her work in both the TV biopic and the feature film. Following a co-starring role in psychological thriller "Stoker" (2013), Kidman starred oppiste Colin Firth in war drama "The Railway Man" (2013) and mystery "Befoe I Go To Sleep" (2014). After an embarrassing incident in which her starring turn in the biopic "Grace of Monaco" (2014) ended up being removed from the studio release schedule and ending up as a Lifetime movie of the week, Kidman co-starred in the family film "Paddington" (2014), based on the beloved series of books by Michael Bond. The following year was a busy one, with Kidman starring in the mystery "Strangerland" (2015), Jason Bateman's comedy-drama "The Family Fang" (2015), and thriller "Secret In Their Eyes" (2015). Most notably, Kidman starred as British archeologist and explorer Gertrude Bell in Werner Herzog's biopic "Queen of the Desert" (2015).
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