Nicole Kidman: From Sydney Girl to Hollywood Icon - A Retrospective of Her Most Memorable Roles

Nicole Kidman, captured through the lens of her daughter Sunday Rose, shares her personal reflections on her iconic roles as she anticipates becoming the first Australian to be honored with a prestigious Hollywood award.

As she prepares to make history as the first Australian to receive a prestigious award in the US, Nicole Kidman has expressed her surprise and gratitude at the honor.

Looking back on her 40-year career, Kidman reminisced with Stellar, sharing a beautiful and intimate photograph taken at home by her daughter, Sunday Rose Kidman-Urban.

The American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award leaves her humbled. "To be included with legends like Gish, Davis, Streep, and Streisand...beyond my wildest dreams," she gushes.

I grew up as a Sydney suburban girl who simply wanted to act; to have built a career doing what I love is a blessing beyond my dreams. I am incredibly thankful to the AFI for this amazing honor.

At just 22, Dead Calm rocketed Kidman onto the Hollywood map. Filmed in the breathtaking Whitsundays, this 1989 psychological thriller by Australian director Phillip Noyce became her first major international film. She played Rae Ingram, a young wife trapped on a yacht with her husband (Sam Neill) and terrorized by a deranged drifter (Billy Zane).

"Looking back, Kidman reflects fondly, 'Dead Calm was a turning point. I'm incredibly grateful to Phillip, Terry Hayes (writer), and George Miller (producer) for taking a chance on me and for creating an Australian film with global appeal. Shooting on the open ocean for months on end demanded immense commitment, but it was an experience I'll never forget. Phillip, Terry, and George taught me so much – I'm forever indebted to their belief in me.'"

Gus Van Sant's dark satire, released in 1995, has experienced a consistent rediscovery over the years. The film was remarkably prescient in predicting the cultural direction of the mid-'90s. Additionally, certain outfits worn by Kidman in the film have recently garnered renewed appreciation on social media.

Kidman takes center stage as Suzanne Stone-Maretto, a ruthlessly ambitious weather reporter with her sights set on broadcast journalism stardom. She manipulates a lovestruck teenager (Joaquin Phoenix) with empty promises, culminating in a now-iconic dance scene in the rain . Her ultimate goal? To convince him to eliminate her husband.

"To Die For," Kidman reflects, "was audacious. It held a mirror to society with a sharp wit, and both Gus' direction and Buck Henry's script were exceptional. The car scene with Joaquin? That was pure improvisation – a testament to the film's creative energy."

1996's The Portrait of a Lady marked a pivotal point for Kidman. Embodying Isabel Archer alongside John Malkovich under the visionary direction of Jane Campion, the film solidified her commitment to championing female creators. This dedication has seen her consistently collaborate with women behind the camera, amplifying their voices both on and off-screen. Their partnership continued with Top of the Lake: China Girl

Jane is a visionary, a genius, and one of my dearest friends," Kidman beams. "We almost made a short film together back when I was a film student, so this collaboration felt destined. Her mind is unlike any other – a true trailblazer. There's nothing I wouldn't do for her.

Kidman had been an admirer of acclaimed director Stanley Kubrick for many years, having developed a passion for his films during her teenage years in Sydney. When she began filming Kubrick's final movie, an erotic mystery titled "Eyes Wide Shut," in London alongside her then-husband Tom Cruise, her appreciation for his work was already well established. The production of "Eyes Wide Shut," released in 1999, notably spanned 400 days, setting a Guinness World Record that remains unbroken to this day.

So much of my understanding of filmmaking and philosophy blossomed during those long conversations with Stanley," Kidman reminisces. "We'd spend hours in his office, dissecting ideas and exploring the complexities of the human experience. His knowledge was boundless, his insights profound. He was a mentor unlike any other, and I miss him dearly.

Baz Luhrmann's dazzling 2001 musical extravaganza, Moulin Rouge!, transported audiences to a world of vibrant energy. Filmed in Sydney and brought to life with the visionary design of Luhrmann's wife and creative partner, Catherine Martin (who went on to win Oscars for costume and production design), the film became a landmark achievement. It also earned Kidman her first Academy Award nomination for her captivating performance as Satine, the star courtesan of the Parisian nightclub.

"Working with Baz and CM was like being ignited by pure creative fire," Kidman enthuses. "Their combined passion, vision, and belief in the project was infectious. Moulin Rouge! pushed boundaries and captured the essence of filmmaking at its most daring. We forged a lifelong bond, and I'm lucky to count them both as close friends. It was a truly groundbreaking experience."

Kidman received the Best Actress Oscar for her role as Virginia Woolf in director Stephen Daldry's 2002 adaptation of the acclaimed best-selling novel. The film, which featured a trio of interconnected stories and also starred Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore, earned Kidman critical acclaim and the prestigious Academy Award for her performance.

The Hours was the result of brilliant writing and directing, and it coincided with a very specific moment in my life," Kidman reflects. "I feel like I tapped into Virginia in a way that resonated deeply with my own existence at that time. Stephen understood how to guide me through this journey. However, looking back, the whole experience of playing this role and the subsequent attention is somewhat of a blur – it all just seemed to have unfolded naturally.

Released in 2016, Lion resonated deeply with audiences worldwide, becoming the sixth most popular Australian film ever made. It also garnered Kidman a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 2017 Academy Awards.

"For an Australian actor, being recognized for playing an Australian character is a rarity," Kidman acknowledges. "So that nomination held immense significance. Lion's global success, coupled with my own nomination on the world stage – all while speaking my native Australian accent – that was truly fulfilling."

Kidman joined forces with Charlize Theron and fellow Aussie Margot Robbie in 2019's Bombshell, a film that brought the story of the courageous women who exposed sexual harassment at Fox News to light.

"The power of women's voices united is what drew me to Bombshell," Kidman explains. "And of course, the chance to collaborate with the phenomenal Charlize and Margot, two actresses I deeply admire and cherish. Working alongside them was a privilege, and I can only hope our paths cross again on set someday."

Nicole Kidman spearheaded the captivating 2021 miniseries Nine Perfect Strangers, transforming into a wellness retreat's enigmatic guru. Filming in Byron Bay during the throes of the global pandemic presented a unique challenge. As both lead actress and producer, Kidman, alongside creator David E. Kelley, played a pivotal role in crafting the strictest Covid protocols ever developed for a major production.

"Nine Perfect Strangers became a groundbreaking project," Kidman explains. "We essentially wrote the rulebook for pandemic filmmaking, collaborating directly with epidemiologists and government officials. It was producing at its most intense."

The decision to relocate production to Australia, mirroring the setting of Liane Moriarty's original novel, proved to be a masterstroke. "We not only ensured the safety of hundreds of cast and crew members throughout some of the pandemic's darkest times," Kidman beams, "but we also kept them employed. Nine Perfect Strangers is a testament to teamwork and resilience, and I'm thrilled to be back for season two with much of the original crew."

facebook Share