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A Profile of Nicole Kidman, Russel Crowe

Aired February 21, 2004 - 11:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, she's the Australian beauty who was nearly unrecognizable in her Academy Award-winning roll. Now in the Oscar nominated film, "Cold Mountain," she takes on yet another transforming role.

NICOLE KIDMAN, ACTRESS: It's a movie about faith in somebody and belief in somebody's love.


ANNOUNCER: From a private romance that thrust her into the spotlight to a divorce that played out in public.


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


ANNOUNCER: Three years after her split from Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman has found success on her own. Get up close with Oscar winner, Nicole Kidman.

Then he's a rough and rowdy Aussie who became one of Hollywood's leading men.


LEAH ROZEN, MOVIE CRITIC, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Russell Crowe is on everyone's A-list.


ANNOUNCER: An athletic standout in high school who had early dreams of being a rock star.




ANNOUNCER: His swash-buckling film, "Master and Commander" is up for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards. And now Hollywood's bad boy is tackling a new role, family man.


CYNTHIA SANZ, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: Russell really teared up. I mean he got all emotional about it.


ANNOUNCER: The life of Hollywood's master and commander, Russell Crowe. Their stories and more now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.

PAULA ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. I'm Paula Zahn. Nicole Kidman is one of the most sought after actresses in Hollywood right now. An Academy Award and a string of celebrated performances have propelled her into a stratosphere of celebrity all her own. Her latest film, "Cold Mountain" is up for seven Academy Awards. And even though Kidman was passed over, not even an Oscar snub could cool her red-hot career. Here's Sharon Collins.


JUDE LAW, ACTOR: I want to marry you, if you'll have me.

KIDMAN: I'll marry you. I'll marry you.

SHARON COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Cold Mountain" starring Oscar-winner, Nicole Kidman, and Oscar nominees, Jude Law and Renee Zellweger, is an epic tale of love and survival at the end of the Civil War.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congratulations! I'll send you out with a shotgun a lot more.

COLLINS: It then follows the poignant love story between Kidman's character, Ada, and Law's Confederate soldier, Inman, as they wait to be reunited.

KIDMAN: So much time has passed since you left. Are you alive? I pray to God you are.

It's a movie about faith in somebody and belief in somebody's love. And that simple clarity of saying, "I love you and I'll be waiting for you," and that means if it's one year, four years, 10 years, you'll wait. And I love that they both make that pledge to each other.

Come back to me.

COLLINS: Three years after her split from megastar husband, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman has stepped out from his shadow to become one of the most sought-after stars in Hollywood. This year brought a Golden globe nomination for her performance in "Cold Mountain. Two thousand three also brought Nicole Kidman leading roles and critical acclaim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, Nicole Kidman. There it is.

COLLINS: Not only did she get a star, her role in "The Hours" brought rave reviews and a second Golden globe win. Then in March, with parents in tow, she walked the red carpet once again. An Oscar nomination for "The Hours" had brought her to the Academy Awards, and while the buzz was in her favor, her nerves were out of control.

JESS CAGLE, SENIOR EDITOR, "PEOPLE" MAGAZINE: On Oscar night, she had pretty much decided she was not going to win.

KIDMAN: Renee!

CAGLE: And she probably felt that Renee Zellweger was going to get the Best Actress award instead.

RENEE ZELLWEGER, ACTRESS: No, I'm not quite finished yet.

CAGLE: Then right before they announced the Best Actress winner, Nicole Kidman's daughter leaned over and said, "You're going to win, Mommy." and she became completely panicked. Then, of course, she won.

COLLINS: In an emotional speech, Kidman thanked her mother. And when she arrived backstage with Oscar in hand, the movie star could barely contain herself.

KIDMAN: I'm a little giddy. I have no recollection of what I said.

CAGLE: When she accepted her Oscar, in her speech, she said that she'd always wanted to make her mother proud.

KIDMAN: In my whole life, it's been one of my driving sort of forces is to make her proud of me. And I think I've disappointed her at times. So it was wonderful to stand up on the stage and be able to have her be in the audience.

CAGLE: She probably thought that the divorce and all of that stuff were not necessarily things that would make a mother proud although, clearly, her mother had been very supportive through the whole thing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Six, forty-four, take two.


COLLINS: Kidman's character in "The Hours," Virginia Wolfe, had dealt with depression, isolation, alienation, feelings all too familiar to this movie star.

KIDMAN: One of the daunting prospects for a woman when she goes through divorce is learning to be able to then live alone and survive alone and find your way in the world without your partner. And so now going, wow, I'm able to take care of myself. That's kind of makes you feel...

COLLINS: Now single, Nicole Kidman is making it on her own and stepping out with some of Hollywood's hottest stars.

CAGLE: Nicole has definitely dated since Tom. I mean she's been linked to a lot of people, including Tobey Maguire.

COLLINS: Despite the constant glare of the paparazzi, Kidman keeps her love life to herself.

CAGLE: One thing that Nicole Kidman learned, I think, during the life with Tom Cruise, was how damaging a lot of scrutiny on a relationship can be. And so she's been very careful to keep that part of her life as private as possible.

COLLINS: It had been a solid marriage, even by Hollywood standards. But in February of 2001, her movie star husband Tom Cruise shocked the entertainment world and Kidman herself, announcing he wanted to end their 10-year marriage.

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

COLLINS: Long-time Hollywood observer and "Vanity Fair" columnist, Dominick Dunne says Kidman covered up her pain, carrying on with great dignity while promoting the film, "Moulin Rouge."

KIDMAN: I'm very excited. It's a really good reception.

DUNNE: She attended the premiere. She's waving to the people. Whatever was 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.

COLLINS: Baz Luhrman directed Kidman in "Moulin Rouge."

BAZ LUHRMAN, DIRECTOR, "MOULIN ROUGE": There's a line in our movie, "The show must go on, jerk, for all our sakes, because people think I kept 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.

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

KIDMAN: 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.

COLLINS: 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. Sidney 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.

COLLINS: 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 parents approval.

KIDMAN: They both have a love 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You started very young acting.

KIDMAN: Oh no, which one do you've got?

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

COLLINS: 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. A group of kids on bikes takes on a gangs of bank robbers. Kidman chose to ride away from high school at 16, to pursue a full- time acting career.

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

COLLINS: Just a year later in the Australian mini-series, "Vietnam," she won the Australian Film Institute's 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.





KIDMAN: What about those people?

COLLINS (voice-over): After TV and film success down under, Australian Nicole Kidman's first Hollywood break was the seagoing 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 -- that's the mysterious factor that you cannot explain. It's just one of those things.

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

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, and my taste in films and also just in characters and stuff is very diverse.

COLLINS: 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, Connor, two years later.

KIDMAN: We do it all; Tom and I. It's you know, you bear the priority and so that means you make compromises.

COLLINS: Any compromises were worth it to build a family legacy.

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

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

KIDMAN: I sing to them all the time. They tell me shut-up.

COLLINS: Of course Kidman gets far more respect in Hollywood. By 1996, she was a star in her own right, moving out of Cruise's orbit.

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

COLLINS: It was the quirky film noir, "To Die For," that propelled Kidman to stardom. It all began when Kidman picked up the phone and begged director, Gus Van Sant, for the breakout role. Once on board, Kidman shined.

KIDMAN: I believe that Mr. Gorbeshev -- you know the man who ran Russia for so long? I believe that that he'd still be in power today if he's done what so many people suggested and had that big purple thing taken off his forehead.

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

SYDNEY POLLACK, DIRECTOR: I think she is often times 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 in, "To Die For," and you know in Baz Luhrmann's picture, it -- "Moulin Rouge," she's always good in films. Sometimes the films aren't as good as she is, but she's always extraordinary.

COLLINS: 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 Carol Lombard. She did like a Marilyn image, if I remember. And she did a great Marilyn 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.

COLLINS: 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.

COLLINS: That intensity drew Kidman into the "Blue Room," where she briefly appeared nude on stage. The 1998 London play was a huge hit. Kidman's performance was hailed as pure theatrical Viagra.

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.





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