What the Hell Happened to Nicole Kidman?
During the 1990’s, Kidman was one half of Hollywood’s biggest power couple. During that time, she became one of the most sought-after actresses in Hollywood. Even after her divorce from Tom Cruise, Kidman’s career continued to soar. She starred in big movies, was a darling of critics and finally won an Academy Award in 2002. These days, Kidman is still a sought-after actress. She can still be counted on to rack up nominations come awards time. But her career has cooled. The movies are smaller. Her spotlight has dimmed.
What the hell happened?
Kidman was born to Australian parents who were living in Hawaii. That made her eligible for dual citizenship in Australia and the US. Kidman’s family returned to Australia when she was four. In 1983, at the age of 15, Kidman started acting in Australian film and televison. Her first film was a remake of an Australian holiday favorite, Bush Christmas. (Between being born in Hawaii and starring in Bush Christmas, I am trying really hard not to make any jokes about recent presidents.)
That year, Kidman became a regular on the Australian TV show, Five Mile Creek. She also appeared in BMX Bandits (pictured above). To get the part, Kidman lied about being able to ride BMX bikes. During filming, she sprained an ankle. No female stunt double could be found, so Kidman was doubled by a man.
Kidman continued working in Australian film and television throughout the 80s. In 1989, Kidman starred opposite Sam Neill and Billy Zane in Phillip Noyce’s nautical thriller, Dead Calm.
Kidman and Neill play a couple who go out to sea to after the death of their son. Their getaway is interrupted when they come upon a sinking boat. They rescue the sole survivor played by Zane. He repays their kindness by terrorizing them at sea.
Dead Calm received almost universally positive reviews. It was a hit in Australia and crossed over into the US.
It is impossible to discuss Kidman’s Hollywood career without talking about her relationship with Tom Cruise. Cruise was married to actress Mimi Rogers. Rogers brought Cruise into Scientology. The couple split in 1990. Like all of Cruise’s three divorces, the details were shrouded in privacy. Years later, Rogers offered her take:
“Tom was seriously thinking of becoming a monk. At least for that period of time, it looked as though marriage wouldn’t fit into his overall spiritual need. And he thought he had to be celibate to maintain the purity of his instrument. Therefore it became obvious we had to split.”
Lawrence Wright, author of the book, Going Clear, told a different story. According to the book, church-leader David Miscavige saw Cruise as a rock star who could be the public face of Scientology. Anything Cruise wanted, Cruise got. And Cruise wanted the 21-year-old Kidman. According to Marty Rathbun, former second-in-command and now a vocal critic of Scientology, he was sent to Rogers’ home with divorce papers and told her: ‘ “This is the right thing to do for Tom, because he is going to do lots of good for Scientology.” That was the end of Mimi Rogers.’
Kidman was a Catholic who reportedly tolerated Cruise’s involvement in Scientology without embracing it. Her father was a clinical psychologist which worried some Scientologists given their views on psychology. But Miscavige couldn’t tell Cruise “no”. They started a file on Kidman while they were introducing her to Cruise.
Cruise cast Kidman in his 1990 racing drama, Days of Thunder and the co-stars began dating.
Days of Thunder was directed by Tony Scott who had directed Cruise in his star-making role in Top Gun. Critics noted the similarities between the two movies. They referred to Days of Thunder as “Top Gun on wheels”.
The production was extremely difficult. Producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer fought with Scott about everything. Even screen-writer Robert Towne got in on the action. The movie fell three months behind schedule.
It was released to mixed reviews, but it was a hit at the box office.
Next: Far and Away and Malice
Posted on April 20, 2013, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged Australia, Batman Forever, Bewitched, cold mountain, Moulin Rouge, Nicole Kidman, Scientology, The Hours, The Others, The Stepford Wives, tom cruise. Bookmark the permalink. 384 Comments.