'I wanted to QUIT’
On her four children, Tom’s protection and life after 50
Nicole Kidman’s relationship with ex-husband Tom Cruise has been a subject of attention after she confirmed she felt “protected” by him during their 11-year marriage when her actress friends were often targeted by powerful men in Hollywood. “I didn’t work as much, so I wasn’t out there a lot. Also, a lot of times when I was working, Tom was there. So that’s the truth of it,” the 51-year-old actress tells WHO. “I don’t know why the culture is set up like that and we aren’t just protected anyway, but it’s interesting that the power of another man gives you respect,” the Boy Erased star continued.
Speaking candidly about her two adopted children with Cruise, Isabella, 25, and Connor, 23 – who practise Scientology – Kidman says, “They are adults. They are able to make their own decisions. They have made choices to be Scientologists and as a mother, it’s my job to love them. And I am an example of that tolerance and that’s what I believe – that no matter what your child does, the child has love and the child has to know there is available love and I’m open here. I think that’s so important because if that is taken away from a child, to sever that in any child, in any relationship, in any family – I believe it’s wrong. So that’s our job as a parent, to always offer unconditional love.”
Kidman’s husband –New Zealand-born country music star Keith Urban – turned 51 on Oct. 26 and they celebrated together in Nashville. “We loved him up,” she says. “He got loved up because he is a simple guy and it
doesn’t take much for Keith to be happy, which is a lovely thing to say about someone, right?”
Adamant she’s just “a human being that loves protection”, Kidman adds, “I offer it and receive it. And when I say protection, for me, protection is love and protection is, ‘I’ll stand up and support you and stand by your side and go to the line for you.’ And I would hope that I have a huge number of friends who would do it for me, too, and I offer it back,” she says.
While she values her friendships with high-profile stars, Kidman maintains she is most protective of her children: Isabella, Connor, and Sunday Rose, 10, and Faith Margaret, 7, whom she shares with Urban. “I circle roles as mothers now because the love of a mother and what you’re willing to do to protect your child is so compelling for me to explore. The way you sacrifice yourself, your life, whatever you have to do for your child.”
The mother-of-four says her instincts can make her puzzled. “I get confused as to what my instincts are and I sometimes find it hard to listen to my gut because I have the ability to shift and see different points of view, because I am an actor and that’s what I do! But right now, I am trying to teach my children to trust their guts and their instinct, on people and situations, because if you can learn to go, ‘this feels dangerous’ or ‘this person feels like they’ve got my best interest,’ a lot of time that first instinct is right.”
Kidman is notoriously private about Isabella and Connor. “I’m very private about all that. I have to protect all those relationships. I know 150 per cent that I would give up my life for my children because it’s what my purpose is.”
She concedes perhaps her biggest challenge is being too attached to her offspring. “I’m extremely attached! That’s just my personality. I’m a deeply attached person and I know you are meant to be detached with love, but I’m attached. That’s part of my thing that I have to work on, not being overly attached.
“I think some of us struggle as parents because we’ve also got to let them fall and let them have some pain and not fix everything or run in and protect and helicopter parent. That’s the hardest thing in the world.”
When asked if she’d consider having a fifth child, the Boy Erased actress says, “I would love to have had more.” And while on the subject, she adds, “Nothing is ever totally out of the question, but in terms of what we can manage. But I’m happy to have the family I have. I didn’t think I’d have the miracle of these girls and at the age I was, I was able to have them. That was a miracle and I don’t forget that when I wish I had more.”
Even so, life after 50 is filled with promise for the star who’d all but given up her career. “I was at a point probably about a decade ago where I wanted to quit. I’m lucky I have the mother who goes, ‘No, hold on to your career because you’re going to want that at some point; you are creative.’ I told her I was happy to sit here and I’d worked my whole life and I just wanted to sit and smell the roses, and my mum insisted I still needed to be out there doing what I do and sharing my artistic voice. And that’s when I did Rabbit Hole  so even though it looks like all of this just happened for me, that was a lot to get it made and that gave me a little encouragement to go down that road.”
It’s a good thing she kept going, because the Hollywood star has been nominated for an AACTA for her supporting role in Boy Erased alongside Russell Crowe. “Getting nominated by my peers in Australia feels like such an amazing acknowledgement and I feel so much a part of Australia and everything coming out of it. It also feels amazing to have had last year with Top of the Lake and to be in an Australian film, Lion, because it’s still a huge part of who I am and who I want to be. Even though I play an American in Boy Erased, I was happy to be able to support [director] Joel [Edgerton] – that was really important for both Russell and me, because he’s one of our own and I think that is also a very Australian trait: we are all very tight and for me to be honoured in this way, with an AACTA nomination, having been part of that industry since I was 14 years old, it makes me so grateful.”
So at this point in her career, she has no plans to stop. “Right now, we are the trailblazers for the next generation because we are going, ‘Hey, we’re still here, we’re totally engaged and we’ve got things we’re willing to share!’ We want to nurture and be part of our community and help the next generation and keep it alive!”
“I would love to have had more [children]”