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PEOPLE IN THE NEWS

Nicole Kidman: Professional Highs and Personal Lows

Aired January 26, 2002 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER (voice-over): Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS: The professional highs and personal lows of Nicole Kidman.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: It's been a strange year.

ANNOUNCER: From a private romance that thrust her into the spotlight.

DOMINICK DUNNE, "VANITY FAIR": They were the most glamorous marriage in Hollywood.

ANNOUNCER: To the drama of a divorce that played out in public.

KIDMAN: Everybody watches it, and somehow you have to get through it.

ANNOUNCER: The daring Kidman never missed a beat.

KIDMAN: I believe you were expecting me.

ANNOUNCER: At first, Hollywood didn't know what to expect from the girl from Sydney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You started very young, acting.

KIDMAN: Oh, no. Which ones have you got?

ANNOUNCER: The world soon discovered Kidman's star quality.

KIDMAN: You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV.

SYDNEY POLLACK, DIRECTOR: Sometimes the films aren't as good as she is, but she's always extraordinary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She is a real movie star.

ANNOUNCER: A star with a new Golden Globe.

KIDMAN: It just clicked.

ANNOUNCER: Now, after a year of personal loss, Kidman is coming on strong. KIDMAN: Let's have some fun.

ANNOUNCER: The story of Nicole Kidman, now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CHEERING AND MUSIC)

SHERRI SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Amid the can- can dancers and an army of paparazzi, there was a certain red-haired Aussie buzz in Cannes last year.

KIDMAN: We declare the 54th International Film Festival of Cannes open.

SYLVESTER: Hollywood superstar Nicole Kidman had come to France to promote and be honored for her movie, "Moulin Rouge."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MOULIN ROUGE")

KIDMAN: I believe you were expecting me.

EWAN MCGREGOR, ACTOR: Yes.

SYLVESTER: What Kidman didn't expect was to take home a Golden Globe for her work in the musical.

KIDMAN: I think everyone who worked on this film just felt like, well, we're going to go for it, you know. And if we fall flat on our faces, we fall flat on our faces, but let's try to do something different. And we never thought we'd be standing here.

SYLVESTER: It's been a year of surprises.

Last spring, Kidman appeared to relish the attention in Cannes. It was her time to shine, but she was alone. And that's how it's been on every red carpet, at every premiere. A solo Kidman, smiling, waving, even as she's pursued by the paparazzi across the Venice Lagoon.

Everyone in the world is chasing Kidman's melancholy story.

KIDMAN: Hey, it's been a strange year.

SYLVESTER: Last February, her movie star husband, Tom Cruise, shocked the entertainment world, and Kidman herself, and announcing he wanted to end their 10-year marriage.

DUNNE: Well, they were the most glamorous marriage in Hollywood, Tom and Nicole.

SYLVESTER: Longtime Hollywood observer and "Vanity Fair" columnist Dominick Dunne says Kidman covered up her pain, carrying on with great dignity while in Cannes.

KIDMAN: They said it was a really good reception.

DUNNE: She attended the premiere. She's waving to the people. Whatever's going on inside, she kept that private. And she did. I mean, that's what a star does. You know, she has obligations and she fulfilled them.

SYLVESTER: Baz Luhrmann directed Kidman in "Moulin Rouge."

BAZ LUHRMANN, DIRECTOR, "MOULIN ROUGE": There's a line in our movie, "The show must go on (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for all our sakes."

Of course, people think I keep saying that to her, go out there. But, you know, really it's -- she's the one that embodies the show must go on. She's the one that said, you know, I've got to do this. And I can only be eternally grateful for that. But she was the one.

SYLVESTER: The show must go on is very much Kidman's guiding motto. She'll show up no matter what.

SYLVESTER (on camera): Are you at all concerned that all of the publicity surrounding your personal life will overshadow the publicity regarding the film and your work?

KIDMAN: I mean, that's something that, you know, I don't have control over that. So, I mean, it is what it is and I -- my life is my life and I'm living it and I'm a person, just like everybody else, and I have all those things that happen. And, you know, that's sort of up to forces greater than me.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): The so-very Aussie Kidman began her life in America. She was born in Honolulu, Hawaii on June 20, 1967. Her father, a biochemist and author, was studying there. His research would later take the family on to Washington, D.C.

But by the time Kidman was four, her family had returned to Australia to stay. Sydney became the place she'd always call home.

Kidman is very close to her younger sister, Antonia, a television reporter in Australia, as well as to her father and her mother, a nurse and educator.

While growing up, Kidman's extraordinarily pale skin meant Australia's sun life was out of bounds.

KIDMAN: Instead of going to the beach or, you know, the normal thing that you do in Australia, I would go on the weekends to drama school.

SYLVESTER: At age 10, Nicole retreated to the comfort of the rehearsal studio to strengthen her acting skills. It was natural, she said, to disappear into a dark theater, and she did so with her parent's approval.

KIDMAN: They've always had a lot of the arts, and I think they gave it great credence and value, that it wasn't -- and I really respect them as parents for doing that, because it wasn't sort of pooh-poohed, it was actually, you know, what do you enjoy. My parents always took me to the theater when I was young. I was taken to see opera. I was taken to see modern dance. So, I was exposed a lot to a lot of culture and I really, that's what I try to do for my children as well.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You started very young, acting.

KIDMAN: Oh, no. Which ones have you got?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have "BMX Bandits" and "Bush Christmas."

KIDMAN: You're so mean.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Kidman may cringe, but the TV film she made in 1983, "Bush Christmas," remains a national favorite and still airs every Christmas.

That same year, the cult favorite "BMX Bandits" was released, where a group of kids on bikes take on a gang of bank robbers.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "BMX BANDITS")

KIDMAN: I'll tell you one thing, they're definitely not cops.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Well, don't worry. They can't get at us in here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Kidman chose to ride away from high school at 16 to pursue a full-time acting career.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "VIETNAM")

KIDMAN: We are not against our troops in any way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Just a year later, in the Australian miniseries "Vietnam," she won the Australian Film Institutes' Best Television Actress Award. She was 17 and a rising star.

When the story of Nicole Kidman continues, the movie "Days of Thunder" rolls into her life, bringing with it a hot Hollywood relationship.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIDMAN: What about those people?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: After TV and film success down under, Australian Nicole Kidman's first Hollywood break was the sea-going thriller "Dead Calm."

Fellow actor Sam Neill used the word star to describe the 21- year-old Kidman.

SAM NEILL, ACTOR: She can do anything. But she does have that extra thing, which is she is a star. And that's the sort of mysterious factor that you cannot explain. It's just one of those things.

SYLVESTER: Mr. Hollywood, Tom Cruise, was just coming off his divorce from actress Mimi Rogers, and after viewing "Dead Calm" was reportedly eager to meet the dazzling new actress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIDMAN: How could you ignore me like that?

UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I wasn't ignoring you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: That meeting came within a year. Both were cast in the film "Days of Thunder." There was immediate on-screen and off- screen chemistry.

A quick romance followed, and on Christmas Eve 1990 the two married quietly in the resort town of Telluride, Colorado.

Within months, Kidman was working again with her famous husband, in the 1992 epic "Far and Away."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAR AND AWAY")

KIDMAN: Stay right where you are. Don't flutter an eyelid, or I'll stab you. I'll stab you through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: But Kidman's resume would never read Mrs. Tom Cruise. She was determined not to be typecast in any way.

(on camera): You've never been pigeonholed, which is very rare. Is that a conscious effort? You've never even done the same kind of film twice.

KIDMAN: I don't know if it's conscious. It's just that I'm drawn -- as soon as I've done one thing, I'm drawn to probably the complete opposite. So, my taste in films and also just in characters and stuff is very diverse.

SYLVESTER: The super couple were becoming part of Hollywood royalty, and children were now part of the dynasty. The couple adopted a girl, Isabella, in 1993. And a baby boy, Conor, two years later.

KIDMAN: We do it all, Tom and I. You know, they're the priority, and so that means you make compromises.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Any compromises were worth it to build a family legacy.

KIDMAN: We always said that when we were making "Far and Away" that would be great, because then our children will be able to watch us when we were young and in love.

SYLVESTER: Kidman's children often go on location with her. They see her act, and in the case of "Moulin Rouge," hear her sing.

SYLVESTER (on camera): Have you ever sung to them?

KIDMAN: I sing to them all the time. They tell me to shut up. They do. They tell me to shut up a lot.

SYLVESTER: Kidman gets far more respect in Hollywood.

By 1996, she was a star in her own right, moving out of Cruise's orbit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TO DIE FOR")

KIDMAN: You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: It was the quirky film noir "To Die For" that propelled Kidman to stardom.

It all began when she picked up the phone and begged director Gus Van Sant for the breakout role.

GUS VAN SANT, DIRECTOR, "TO DIE FOR": She had told me that she felt that she was destined to pay the part of Suzanne Stone. And not wanting to stand in the way of destiny, I thought maybe I should give her the part.

SYLVESTER: Once on board, Kidman shined.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "TO DOE FOR")

KIDMAN: I believe that Mr. Gorbachev, you know, the man who ran Russia for so long? I believe that he would still be in power today if he had done what so many people suggested and had that big purple thing taken off his forehead. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Acclaim poured in, including a Golden Globe in 1995. Hollywood had noticed the girl from Sydney.

POLLACK: I think she's oftentimes underrated, because she's so beautiful that you think of her as just a pretty girl, you know. But if you look at her work, "To Die For" and Baz Luhrmann's picture, "Moulin Rouge," she's always good in films. Sometimes the films aren't as good as she is, but she's always extraordinary.

SYLVESTER: Director Baz Luhrmann says he noticed how extraordinary Kidman was during a "Vogue" photo shoot a decade ago.

LUHRMANN: She did, you know, sort of a Carole Lombard. She did, like, a Marilyn image, if I remember. And she did a great Marlene image. And Lucille Ball, actually.

She's a real movie star. Meaning she does manifest those almost icon-like qualities that those performers had in that time.

SYLVESTER: Qualities that include a focused work ethic.

LUHRMANN: When you work with Nicole as a professional, it's no walk in the park, because she's not an actor that says, you know, I'm an empty vessel, fill me. Do I put my hand here? I mean, she has as many ideas as I do, and everything is an intense experience.

SYLVESTER (on camera): If I give you a few of your projects, can you tell me what kind of risk was involved and what kind of reward you got. We'll try. "To Die For." What kind of a challenge was it for you as an actress?

KIDMAN: It was a great script. And I got to work with Gus Van Sant, who had done "Drugstore Cowboy", which I thought was amazing. He hadn't done "Good Will Hunting" at that stage. And it was just a great character. And it was funny. It was great to do something that was a black comedy.

SYLVESTER: "Portrait of a Lady"?

KIDMAN: Yeah. I mean, ultimately I choose my films based on the director, and Jane Campion, who had done "The Piano" and stuff, it was just one of those things that I said, OK, this is something that will be very intense and very, sort of, soulful.

SYLVESTER: And "The Blue Room"?

KIDMAN: Scary.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): In "The Blue Room," Kidman briefly appeared nude on the London stage. The 1998 play was a huge hit. Kidman's performance was hailed as pure theatrical Viagra.

KIDMAN: But creatively, that was probably the best experience I've had, just in terms of doing a play in London and then on Broadway where, you know, it's live with people coming every night and enjoying the show. And working with Sam Mendes, who hadn't directed "American Beauty" at that stage. So he was unknown. It was -- I mean, I'd like to do more theater.

SYLVESTER (on camera): And finally, "Moulin Rouge." Very high risk.

KIDMAN: But -- high risk, but also kind of celebratory, because the reason I think -- I wanted to do it was that it was trying to push the envelope and that Baz Luhrmann, who did "Romeo and Juliet" and "Strictly Ballroom" and stuff, is so unique as a filmmaker and creates this wild, crazy world, but still has this heart at the middle of it. It's a love story, which I really -- I've never done a love story before, and that was fun.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): When we come back, love takes a troubled turn. Kidman and Cruise unite for a third time in "Eyes Wide Shut" as their marriage begins a countdown to collapse.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "EYES WIDE SHUT")

TOM CRUISE, ACTOR: Forever.

KIDMAN: Let's not use that word yet. It frightens me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Nicole Kidman appeared in three films with husband Tom Cruise. Their last pairing came in Stanley Kubrick's psychological thriller "Eyes Wide Shut."

Kidman spent nearly two years on the project, and then, just after OKing the final cut, director Kubrick died.

Kidman has said Kubrick's sudden death shocked her out of her youthful naivete.

(on camera): And you worked with Stanley Kubrick, which is amazing. What memory do you take away from that?

KIDMAN: His brilliance. I mean, he -- I just revered him and loved him dearly.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): Then, on February 4, 2001, another shock.

Shortly after their 10th wedding anniversary, a statement is released from Cruise's publicist, announcing an amicable separation. Three days later Cruise officially files for divorce. KIDMAN: It's such a surreal experience when all these things happen in your life, and they're all written about, and they're all sort of -- everybody watches it and somehow you have to get through it.

And thank God for my mom and dad and my sister and the people in my life who love me.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MOULIN ROUGE")

KIDMAN: I have to end it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Kidman's film "Moulin Rouge" is struck not once but twice with personal sorrow.

LUHRMANN: My father died on the first day of shooting this film. And then finally, later, when we were in post-production, you know, this very, very meaningful relationship that she had breaks up. So, we both came to an experience of saying, well, will that crush us or will we get up on the horse and ride again. The show must go on for all our sakes. That's the whole point of the film, and that's what we both had to deal with.

SYLVESTER: As her marriage disintegrates, Kidman must face the press to promote her work. She grins and bears it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS' "THE LATE SHOW": Ladies and gentlemen, here's Nicole Kidman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Kidman used her legendary humor, as seen here on "The Late Show with David Letterman" to diffuse the divorce questions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

KIDMAN: Hi.

LETTERMAN: You look fantastic. I heard you're getting divorced. How's that going?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Kidman's ready with a well-rehearsed line.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

KIDMAN: Well, I can wear heels now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: 23 seconds of laughter later, Kidman takes charge. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")

KIDMAN: Now we move on.

LETTERMAN: Yeah.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SYLVESTER: Kidman does move on, in black couture, to the premiere of her scary thriller "The Others."

At midnight on that very night, August 8, 2001, the clock tolled on her marriage. Hollywood's fairy tale couple is no more.

Hitting the red carpet discreetly following Kidman was Tom Cruise. He had co-produced the others and tapped Kidman for the starring role.

CRUISE: I gave it to Nic, who I thought would be perfect for the role. And it's a tour de force performance for her and I'm very proud of her.

SYLVESTER: All who know her say she has clearly arrived at the top of her profession.

DUNNE: I think she's one of the five or six top stars of today. And, you know, I've seen them all.

SYLVESTER: Insiders say "The Others" is the first hit movie to be sold on Kidman's marquee power alone.

Last fall, she won the best actress award at the Hollywood Film Festival for her work in "Moulin Rouge." It was the start of an award trail that may end with her first Oscar.

(on camera): What do you know now, that you didn't know as a woman in your 20's?

KIDMAN: So many things, I can't sit and wrap it up in a couple of sentences.

SYLVESTER (voice-over): The 34-year-old Kidman says last year was sometimes embarrassing, even humiliating, with all the tabloid coverage, but in the end came new insights.

KIDMAN: Actually, the most important thing in life is sort of knowing who your friends are, and cherishing them, and in a weird way you have your -- the best of times and the worst of times. They come together. And there's always balance, you know. And it keeps your feet on the ground.

SYLVESTER: For Kidman, the show must go on.

KIDMAN: You know, it's 2002 now, so I'm really looking forward to this year.

SYLVESTER: This year, she won't be Mrs. Tom Cruise. The resilient actress is now in every way Nicole Kidman.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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