NO LONGER ON CRUISE CONTROL
Nicole Kidman would probably rather forget all about 2001. In
the last nine months the red-haired beauty has seen her
apparently idyllic life come crashing down around her.
First there was the collapse of her marriage to Tom Cruise, then
the news that she had miscarried their baby. She's also had to
contend with an alleged stalker who bombarded her home with
letters and, just days after her 'quickie' divorce, her
superstar-ex proudly displayed his new love actress Penelope
Cruz at a film premiere.
A lesser soul might have been crushed but the fragile-looking
star has proved she's got more mettle than people give her
credit for. Far from being broken she's upbeat, positive and
still believes in love and marriage.
"I refuse to let what happened to me make me bitter," she says
defiantly. "I still completely believe in love and I'm open to
anything that will happen to me."
The Australian star couldn't have made that more apparent than
when she was pictured yelling jubilantly on a Los Angeles street
after signing divorce papers which ended her 10 year marriage.
But while she is obviously embracing her new-found freedom she's
remaining tight-lipped about just what went wrong in their
"I'm a woman, a mother, a daughter, a sister. I'm a real person
operating in the world. For me to discuss the most private thing
feels wrong. It feels like I'm betraying myself and my
children," she reasons.
The couple adopted two children, Isabella eight, and Connor,
six, during their marriage. Nicole, 34, says becoming a single
mother is scary but she is determined to make it work. "I'm
going to take care of them and myself," she says. "I'd give up
anything for them."
But thankfully for her many fans she has no intention of
abandoning the acting profession and insists that she's more
committed to her work than ever.
"You get to work with some of the most brilliant people in the
world and you help to facilitate extraordinary ideas," she
enthuses. "I consider myself incredibly fortunate and I get to
reach out to a lot of people."
Nicole was born in Hawaii because her Australian father, a
biochemist, was studying there, but she was raised in Sydney.
She grew into a five-foot-10 beanstalk while her red hair and
pale skin meant she had to keep out of the sun in a country full
of beach babes. Nicknamed 'Storky' because of her height, at her
first school dance no one wanted to be her partner.
Convinced she was "the ugliest person on earth" she took solace
in drama classes. At the age of 18 she landed a part in a hit TV
mini-series called Vietnam which made her a teen idol. Then Tom
Cruise saw her in the acclaimed thriller Dead Calm. He was
looking for a leading lady for Days Of Thunder at the time and
had Nicole flown over.
The pair fell in love during the filming of Days Of Thunder and
later appeared in the epic Far And Away. By 1990 Tom had
announced a separation from his first wife actress Mimi Rogers
and less than a year later he and Nicole wed in a private
candle-lit service in Colorado.
As an actress she proved she could make it on her own merit with
critically-acclaimed performances in To Die For and Portrait Of
A Lady, as well as her highly-lauded London stage debut in The
Blue Room which one critic memorably described as "theatrical
It was after seeing her sizzling performance on Broadway in the
hit play that film director Baz Luhrmann decided to cast her for
the lead in his movie Moulin Rouge.
The eagerly-awaited film, out here in September, was the toast
of the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year and Nicole is
drawing some comfort from the fact that, at least on the
professional front, things are going well for her.
"I'm so proud of this film," she smiles. "Everybody worked
really hard on it and the reaction we're getting from people
who've seen it is they've never seen anything like it and they
She celebrated the film's success at Cannes by hitting the dance
floor with DJ Fatboy Slim and she's just as enthusiastic about
another Brit, her co-star in Moulin Rouge, Ewan McGregor.
"It was great to work with him," she beams. "Straight away we
had a tacit agreement that we'd support each other throughout,
taking risks, and be willing to make complete fools of ourselves
in front of each other. The great thing about working on Moulin
Rouge is that people are saying, 'Let's try something different'
and we've connected wholeheartedly to it - that's what made this
project so fulfilling."
Set in the infamous Paris nightclub in the 1900s, Moulin Rouge
tells the story of idealistic poet Christian, played by Ewan,
and his doomed love affair with Nicole's character, the
beautiful courtesan Satine.
It's an all-singing, all-dancing role for the actress, who has
revealed yet another string to her bow with an impressive
musical debut. "I watched almost all of the musicals I could get
my hands on," she says of her preparation for the role. "I
looked at Marilyn Monroe, Cyd Charisse, Rita Hayworth and
they're all extraordinary. I have enormous respect for all those
women now, and their talent, because I didn't use to pay that
much attention before."
After Moulin Rouge, Nicole will be seen in The Others which was
produced by Tom - the pair dodged one another at the US premier
on the eve of their divorce - and there are further film
projects in the pipeline as well as a possible return to the
London stage at some point.
Since her marriage split, the actress has spent a week on a
remote Fijian island with Gladiator star Russell Crowe but she
denies any romance, saying they have been friends for years. She
may not be dating but generally she is feeling upbeat.
"I'm not sure what the future holds but I do know that I'm going
to be positive and not wake up feeling desperate. As my dad
said: 'Nic, it is what it is, it's not what it should have been,
not what it could have been, it is what it is'."
Clearly, despite everything that's happened to her there's no
crushing the resilient Ms Kidman.