Honolulu, Hawaii, 20 June 1967, to Australian parents; raised in Sydney,
Married Tom Cruise (an actor), 24 December 1990; children: Isabella Jane,
Began acting on stage at age 10; first movie role in
(1983) at age 14; appeared on TV series
Five Mile Creek
Australian Film Institute Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a
Leading Role in a Television Drama, for
, 1988, and for
, 1989; ShoWest Female Star of Tomorrow, 1992; Golden Globe Award for Best
Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture—Comedy/Musical,
London Critics Circle ALFS Award for Actress of the Year, and Broadcast
Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress, for
To Die For
c/o Nancy Seltzer, 6220 Dell Valle Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90048,
U.S.A.; Creative Artists Agency, 1888 Century Park E., Suite 1400, Los
Angeles, CA 90067.
Bush Christmas ( Prince and the Great Race ) (Safran) (as Helen); BMX Bandits (Trenchard-Smith) (as Judy); Chase Through the Night (Rubie—for TV) (as Petra)
Matthew and Son (Conway—for TV) (as Bridget Elliot)
Wills & Burke (Weis) (as Julia Matthews); Winners (mini, for TV); Archer's Adventure (Lawrence) (as Catherine)
Watch the Shadows Dance ( Nightmaster ) (Joffe) (as Amy Gabriel); Vietnam (Duigan and Noonan—mini, for TV) (as Megan Goddard); Windrider (Monton) (as Jade)
The Bit Part (Maher) (as Mary McAllister); Room to Move (Duigan—for TV) (as Carol Trig); Un australiana a Roma (as Jill)
Emerald City (Jenkins) (as Helen)
Dead Calm (Noyce) (as Rae Ingram); Bangkok Hilton (Cameron—mini, for TV) (as Katrina Stanton)
Days of Thunder (Scott) (as Dr. Claire Lewicki)
Flirting (Duigan) (as Nicola Radcliffe); Billy Bathgate (Benton) (as Drew Preston)
Far and Away (Howard) (as Shannon Christie)
My Life (Rubin) (as Gail Jones); Malice (Becker) (as Tracy Kennsinger)
To Die For (Van Sant) (as Suzanne Stone Maretto); Batman Forever (Schumacher) (as Dr. Chase Meridian)
The Portrait of a Lady (Campion) (as Isabel Archer); The Leading Man (Duigan) (as Academy Awards Presenter)
The Peacemaker (Leder) (as Julia Kelly)
Practical Magic (Dunne) (as Gillian Owens)
Eyes Wide Shut (Kubrick) (as Alice Harford)
Interview with Phil Noyce, in Cinema Papers (Fitzroy, Australia), May 1989.
Interview in Rolling Stone (Australia), June 1989.
"20 Questions with Nicole Kidman," in Playboy (Chicago), July 1992.
"La Femme Nicole," interview in Vanity Fair (New York), July 1995.
Bouzereau, Laurent, "Batman Forever," interview in Écran Fantastique (Paris), no. 143, July-August 1995.
Floyd, Nigel, "Nicole Mining," interview in Time Out (London), no. 1313, 11 October 1995.
Interview with Mark Salisbury in Empire (London), November 1995.
Mueller, Matt, "The Kidman Cometh," interview in Premiere (Boulder), November 1996.
Andrew, Geoff, "The Lady Vanquishes/Call Me Madame," interview in Time Out (London), no. 1382, 12 February 1997.
"Nic at Twilight," interview in Movieline (Escondido), vol. 10, no. 2, October 1998.
Michiels, Dirk, "Cool en kittig," in Film en Televisie (Brussels), no. 469, February 1997.
Collins, Nancy, "Lust and Trust," in Rolling Stone (New York), 8 July 1999.
* * *
Striking physical beauty and a high-profile marriage can blight an actress's career as often as advance it. Nicole Kidman has given proof of talent, intelligence, and versatility, but the vast preponderance of her press coverage still dwells on trivial speculation about her marriage to Tom Cruise. (Is he secretly gay? Or is she? Were they given lessons in lovemaking for Eyes Wide Shut ? Does it rile him that she's several inches taller? And so forth.) When she appeared on the London stage (in Sam Mendes' production of The Blue Room , adapted from Schnitzler's Reigen ) most of the male reviewers spent more time drooling over her on-stage nudity than assessing her acting ability. Even after displaying her range in three such diverse performances As To Die For , The Portrait of a Lady and Eyes Wide Shut , it seems Kidman still has trouble being taken seriously as an actress.
In her early roles, playing tomboyish teenagers in low-budget Australian family comedies like Bush Christmas and BMX Bandits , Kidman stood out with her rangy figure and wild red hair, exuding a nascent sexuality that scarcely meshed with the films' anodyne, sub-Disney ethos. John Duigan latched on to the cool-bitch side of her screen persona, casting her as the snotty head girl who gives Thandie Newton a hard time in Flirting , but it was Phillip Noyce's oceanbound thriller Dead Calm that gave her the crucial breakthrough role. At 19 she was way too young to play Sam Neill's jaded wife, but she came into her own in the later part of the film, fighting off Billy Zane's psychopath with a ferocity that seemed to stem less from fear than from indignation and moral outrage.
Dead Calm got Kidman to Hollywood and landed her the token-female role in Days of Thunder , Simpson and Bruckheimer's attempt to duplicate the testosterone-laden appeal of Top Gun. The film brought her together with Tom Cruise, and set an unhappy precedent for her Hollywood career. For the next few years Kidman found herself consigned to shallow, decorative roles in movies that left minimal scope for her talents. It hardly helped that the films were resolutely mediocre. If the stories of her ruthless pursuit of Gus Van Sant to secure the lead in To Die For are true, it's hardly to be wondered at; after overstuffed dross like Far and Away and Batman Forever she was clearly desperate to be allowed to show what she could do.
As the murderously ambitious Suzanne Stone, local TV weathergirl determined to make it big, Kidman proved she could play comedy with pitch-perfect subtlety. Instead of taking the easy route of making her character a bimbo, she played her as a woman who has concentrated down to one narrow, obsessive focus, leaving herself brain- and heart-dead outside it. Using her svelte beauty like a weapon, Kidman's Suzanne dazzles onlookers with her smile while the gleam of calculation never leaves her eyes.
To Die For gave Kidman her best role to date. The Portrait of a Lady and Eyes Wide Shut , both more ambitious films, in different ways constrained her, damping down the vibrant animal vitality that, unleashed, can radiate off the screen. Jane Campion's film turned Henry James's free spirit into a more lachrymose character, too easily subdued by John Malkovich's domestic tyrant; Kidman dutifully went along with the concept but let the rebellion show in her eyes. Eyes Wide Shut reunited her with Cruise in their first on-screen partnership since Far and Away. Both actors were visibly unnerved by Kubrick's over-meticulous direction; but Kidman came off the better of the two, achieving a poised intensity in her key monologues that showed up Cruise's dazed acquiescence. Both films demonstrated her versatility, suggesting that Kidman's potential as an actress has as yet scarcely been explored. It would be good to see her given the chance to prove it.