In CEL­E­BRA­TION of NI­COLE

She has never flinched from her crit­ics and as Ni­cole Kid­man pre­pares to turn 50 she is fi­nally win­ning over the doubters, writes Vicky Roach

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

She’s 50 and fab­u­lous

Movie ex­pert Vicki Roach charts Kid­man’s pro­gres­sion from gawky teen to one of the great­est ac­tors of her gen­er­a­tion — and she just keeps get­ting

bet­ter and bet­ter

It has taken Ni­cole Kid­man 50 years to win over the doubters. But that’s OK. She was al­ways play­ing the long game. While Aus­tralia’s bright­est star nailed her “Cin­derella” mo­ment at the Cannes Film Fes­ti­val last month, where she had four projects vy­ing for at­ten­tion, she car­ried her­self with just as much poise on the Croisette three years ear­lier when Grace Of Monaco was laughed out of town.

Some of Kid­man’s cre­ative choices have raised eye­brows, but her red-car­pet per­for­mance has never fal­tered.

And in the last six months, the two sep­a­rate and at times con­flict­ing strands of her ca­reer — celebrity and artist — have fi­nally con­verged.

Lion, for which Kid­man re­ceived her fourth Os­car nom­i­na­tion, started the groundswell. Beau­ti­ful Lies, the TV minis­eries Kid­man pro­duced with Reese Wither­spoon, surfed the crest of that wave. At Cannes, she rode it all the way to shore.

Kid­man has rein­vented her­self a num­ber of times since her in­ter­na­tional break­through role, at the age of 19, in the thriller Dead Calm (1989), with Sam Neill.

The ac­tress’s 1990 mar­riage to Tom Cruise turned her into a Hol­ly­wood celebrity.

Her darkly comedic turn as a fame-ob­sessed weather girl in Gus Van Sant’s To Die For (1995), de­scribed var­i­ously by crit­ics as “ca­reer defin­ing” and “rev­e­la­tory”, is still many crit­ics’ favourite.

Kid­man and Cruise an­nounced their di­vorce in 2001. But while it was a dif­fi­cult time for her in her pri­vate life, pro­fes­sion­ally she didn’t put a foot wrong.

Kid­man’s per­for­mance in Span­ish Ale­jan­dro Amenabar’s chill­ing ghost story, The Oth­ers, was widely acclaimed. Baz Luhrmann’s giddy, over-the-top mu­si­cal Moulin Rouge!, for which she was nom­i­nated for her first Academy Award, was re­leased the same year. Twelve months later, Stephen Daldry cast the ac­tress in her Os­car-win­ning role as Virginia Woolf in The Hours (2002).

In the years that fol­lowed, how­ever, the ac­tress be­gan to be re­ferred to as “box of­fice poi­son”.

Main­stream films such as The Step­ford Wives (2004) and Be­witched (2005) were widely re­garded as flops. And Kid­man’s edgier, in­de­pen­dent choices — such as Birth (2004), in which her char­ac­ter be­comes con­vinced that a 10year-old boy is the rein­car­na­tion of her dead hus­band — caused con­tro­versy.

The back­lash gained fur­ther mo­men­tum with the re­lease of Luhrmann’s Outback epic Aus­tralia (2008).

Ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try in­sid­ers, Kid­man knew she was go­ing to get a can­ing for the film even be­fore she left Nashville, where she lived with sec­ond hus­band, coun­try mu­sic star Keith Ur­ban.

But she flew in, frocked up, and fronted the sharp-penned me­dia any­way.

The only in­di­ca­tion the ac­tress gave of any per­sonal mis­giv­ings was an un­usu­ally bristly in­ter­view ahead of the trip dur­ing which she hinted that she might give up act­ing.

“I’m in a place in my life where I’ve had some great op­por­tu­ni­ties, and I may just choose to have some more chil­dren,” she re­peated at the world pre­miere in Syd­ney.

Kid­man had just given birth to daugh­ter Sun­day Rose. She and Ur­ban, whom she mar­ried in 2005, did go on to have a sec­ond child, Faith Rose, via sur­ro­gacy.

But the work con­tin­ued — on films as di­verse as Fur: An Imag­i­nary Por­trait of Diane Ar­bus (2006), Rab­bit Hole (2010), for which she was nom­i­nated for her third Os­car, and Padding­ton (2014).

Project by project, her tenac­ity paid off — with a body of work even her harsh­est crit­ics have to re­spect.

Born: June 20, 1967

First act­ing role: Sheep (school play, aged 5)

First movie: Bush Christ­mas (1983)

First Hol­ly­wood movie: Days Of Thun­der (1990)

Movies filmed: 58 (two to come in 2018)

Tele­vi­sion shows: 16

World­wide box of­fice of films starred in: $US3.9 bil­lion

Academy Awards:

Nom­i­nated: Four

Won: One (Best Ac­tress, The Hours)

Match­ing socks, cropped pants and a leather jacket with her un­tamed locks, in 1988 Kid­man was still a long way from the red car­pet queen she would be­come. Kid­man teamed up with Cate Blanchett in 1999 for the open­ing of Fox Stu­dios (top); in 2002 she...

Held in the Na­tional Film And Sound Archive, this still shows a pig­tailed Kid­man star­ring op­po­site John Howard in her first film, Bush Christ­mas (1983). Three years later she was all grown up and star­ring in Win­drider (top) along­side an­other hot new...

Golden year ... pos­ing with her Best Ac­tress Os­car for The Hours, in 2003.

2016: With Lion came an­other Os­car nom­i­na­tion, for Best Sup­port­ing Ac­tress. Queen of the red car­pet at Cannes in 2014.

Savour­ing the mo­ment dur­ing one of her many pho­to­calls at Cannes in May, this time for Top Of The Lake: China Girl.

Kid­man with Hugh Jack­man and their young co-star Bran­don Wal­ters be­fore the pre­miere of Baz Luhrmann’s big screen epic Aus­tralia in 2008; get­ting the stamp of ap­proval in 2009.

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