10 things you probably don’t know about Nicole Kidman, who stays under the radar while her star continues to soar.
1. SHE’S GOT A NEW TV SHOW COMING OUT THIS MONTH.
That’s right. The longtime glamorous movie star is taking part in an ensemble cast alongside fellow cinematic big shots Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern and Shailene Woodley to star in an adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s Australian novel, Big Little Lies, brought to you by Emmy Award-winning director David E. Kelley. The show, which will run on HBO (“it’s not television—it’s HBO”) has been in the works since 2014, and Kidman is co-producing the dramedy, which Vanity Fair magazine has characterized as “as addictive (and full of seaside intrigue) as The Affair.” Oh, and murder and kitchen sex are also included.
2. SHE’S STILL BUSY MAKING MOVIES.
For the third year in a row, the Oscar winner will star in more than three films: How to Talk to Girls at Parties with Elle Fanning, The Beguiled, a remake of the Clint Eastwood classic originally released in 1971; and The Killing of a Sacred Deer with Colin Farrell.
3. SHE WAS BORN IN HONOLULU, HAWAII.
Though the stately blonde (sometimes redhead) Kidman is known best as one of Hollywood’s top Australian imports, she was actually born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her Australian parents were living there on educational visas. Kidman is the daughter of Janelle Ann (Glenny), a nursing instructor, and Antony David Kidman, a biochemist and clinical psychologist. Shortly after she was born, the family moved to Washington, D.C., where Nicole’s father pursued his research on breast cancer, and then, three years later, made the pilgrimage back to her parents’ native Sydney in Australia, where Nicole was raised.
4. SHE’S BEEN A SOCIAL ACTIVIST SINCE CHILDHOOD.
Kidman, whose mother was a feminist and father was a labor advocate, and her younger sister, Antonia, would discuss current events around the dinner table and participate in their parents’ campaigns by passing out pamphlets on street corners. When her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, 17-year-old Nicole stopped working and took a massage course so that she could provide physical therapy (her mother eventually beat the cancer).
5. HER FIRST LOVE BEFORE ACTING WAS ACTUALLY BALLET.
Young Nicole’s first love was ballet, but she eventually took up mime and drama as well (her first stage role was as a bleating sheep in an elementary school Christmas pageant). In her adolescent years, acting edged out the other arts and became a kind of refuge—as her classmates sought out fun in the sun, the fair-skinned Kidman retreated to dark rehearsal halls to practice her craft. She worked regularly at the Philip Street Theater, where she once received a personal letter of praise and encouragement from audience member and then-film student, Jane Campion. Kidman eventually dropped out of high school to pursue acting full-time and broke into movies at age 16, landing a role in the Australian holiday movie Bush Christmas (1983). That appearance touched off a flurry of film and television offers, including a lead in BMX Bandits the same year, and a turn as a schoolgirl-turned-protester in the miniseries Vietnam, for which she won her first Australian Film Institute Award). With the help of an American agent, she eventually made her US debut opposite Sam Neill in the at-sea thriller Dead Calm in 1989.
6. SHE’S BEEN MARRIED TO KEITH URBAN FOR 10 YEARS.
Kidman and first husband Tom Cruise (they divorced in 2001 after adopting two children together) were widely viewed as the darling couple of Hollywood—until suddenly, they weren’t. When the announcement came that they were divorcing, friends and fans alike expressed shock—as did Kidman—but all’s well that ends well. Kidman married New Zealand native and country star Keith Urban in 2006, and the two—now parents to daughters Faith and Sunday—are still going strong today, having weathered some tough times during which Urban had to enter rehab for alcohol addiction. Urban credits his wife and their relationship as motivation to turn his life around.
7. SHE HAS A ROCK-SOLID FRIENDSHIP WITH FELLOW AUSSIE NAOMI WATTS.
The two have been friends since they were in high school, meeting while studying at the Phillip Street Theater in Sydney. In fact, after her marriage to Cruise dissolved, Kidman moved in with her bestie to help get through the rough patch. And Watts is such a devoted gal pal to Kidman that she turned down the female lead in the 2005 political thriller The Interpreter because she knew Kidman wanted the role.
8. YEARS AGO, SHE HAD HOPED TO DATE JIMMY FALLON—BUT HE NEVER CALLED.
This has become a running joke between Kidman and The Tonight Show host Fallon, discussed in not one interview between them on his show but two. The first time, Kidman embarrassed Fallon by revealing that she had hoped he would ask for her number when they were set up on a date years before either of them were in their current marriages, but Fallon blew her off. The second time, Kidman said they were at a friend’s house party and she was hoping yet again that he would ask, but didn’t. As Fallon descended into a red-faced funk, Keith Urban emerged from backstage to rescue his wife and save the duo any further awkwardness.
9. SHE ADMITS TO BEING “TERRIBLY DEMANDING” WHEN IT COMES TO HER HUSBAND.
Kidman told W Magazine in January that she gets “anxious” when her husband Keith doesn’t answer his phone, admitting that if he doesn’t pick up his cell right away, she will “keep calling and calling” until he finally picks up. She also says she knows her insistence on doing so is “terribly demanding.”
10. SHE IS A CHARITABLE PERSON, AND HAS BEEN FOR YEARS.
Kidman was appointed as a goodwill ambassador to UNICEF in 1994, and has since raised a lot of money and awareness for the disadvantaged children of the world in the position. “I find trying to solve problems and save lives is far more important than my film career,” she says. “I’ve been put in a position where I’ve been given a lot. I think it’s my duty to give back.”