THREE-MINUTE BIOGRAPHY: From BMX Bandits to Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman is now one of Hollywood’s finest

Headshot of Malcolm Quekett
Malcolm Quekett
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Born in the US, brought up in Sydney, she’ll always be our Nic. The woman who first graced movie screens as a teen in BMX Bandits is now one of Hollywood’s leading women.
Born in the US, brought up in Sydney, she’ll always be our Nic. The woman who first graced movie screens as a teen in BMX Bandits is now one of Hollywood’s leading women. Credit: The Nightly

She is our Nic.

And yet Nicole Kidman, who is nothing short of Australian acting royalty, was actually born in the United States.

Well, sort of. It was Hawaii, where her Australian parents were based on educational visas.

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Her father Antony was studying biochemistry and his work then took them on to Washington D.C. before returning to Australia.

Kidman was brought up in Sydney but her voice shows unmistakable influences of her years living in the US, married first to Tom Cruise (they share two adopted children, Bella, and Connor) and then to fellow Aussie turned honorary American, country rock singer Keith Urban.

But the Aussie twang is capable of bursting back when she mentions “Astraaylia.”

And she proudly told US talk show hosts in 2022 that when she and Urban and their daughters Sunday Rose, and Faith Margaret, return to Australia for Christmas they hit the beach and indulge like many other Aussies and “eat prawns, and lobster.”

Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman at the 2022 Screen Actors Guild Awards. Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Kidman told The Graham Norton Show that she was also given a Hawaiian name, Hokulani, meaning Heavenly Star — the name which was given to an elephant born at the Honolulu zoo.

Bang Showbiz reported it is a name Urban sometimes uses for her.

IMDb says that while at high school in Sydney Kidman gravitated to acting, and broke through at the age of 16, with a role in the movie Bush Christmas.

That was followed by roles including BMX Bandits, the TV mini-series Vietnam and then in the thriller, Dead Calm, with Sam Neill — which truly put her on the US radar.

There her role in race car-based romance Days of Thunder saw her work with Cruise, and the pair married in 1990.

It was the start of a jam-packed CV which has seen Kidman win multiple awards and take on all manner of roles in all manner of movies and TV series, along with several forays onto the stage.

Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge.
Nicole Kidman in Moulin Rouge. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Among the earlier roles were Flirting, Far and Away (again with Cruise), Batman Forever, and darkly comedic thriller To Die For, for which Kidman won a Golden Globe award for playing a fame-hungry housewife.

The year 1999 brought about the release of Eyes Wide Shut, by director Stanely Kubrick, billed as a steamy romance, again featuring Kidman and Cruise.

In 2001 her marriage to Cruise ended over “irreconcilable differences.”

After the split, Kidman, who is about 180cm in height to Cruise’s 170cm, was quizzed on The Late Show with David Letterman and responded: “Well I can wear heels now.”

Kidman’s career also took another upward turn in the lavish musical fantasy Moulin Rouge! (which brought the first of her five Oscar nominations) directed by Baz Luhrmann, in which she sang and danced — before she even diverted into pop with a duet with Robbie Williams on a cover of Frank and Nancy Sinatra’s hit duet, Somethin’ Stupid.

In 2003 Kidman took home an Academy Award for best actress for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours.
In 2003 Kidman took home an Academy Award for best actress for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

In 2003 Kidman took home an Academy Award for best actress for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours.

Other nominations since then include for Rabbit Hole (2011), Lion (2017) and Being the Ricardos (2022).

Her TV highlights include Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers.

Kidman has been an ambassador for UNICEF and for the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and was appointed Companion of the Order of Australia in 2006 in recognition of her service to the performing arts and charity work with women, children and cancer research.

Her career continues to sparkle, cementing her place in the ranks of the greats.

Film critic Joanna Di Mattia has noted that despite Kidman’s immense record, the term “a revelation” had often been applied to many of her performances.

But as Di Mattia concluded: “It would be more problematic, really, if Kidman was never described this way, suggesting she had become predictable, one-note, dull, no longer searching.”

“But Kidman is the antithesis of this. She’s a constant revelation — taking risks, pushing boundaries, embracing the absurd, digging into passion, and having fun.”

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