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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 11 February, 2003, 14:06 GMT
Kidman: Hollywood's golden girl
A best actress Oscar win and the success of The Hours has cemented Nicole Kidman's position as one of Hollywood's favourite stars.

Not only is Kidman a box office hit, securing success for every film she is in, but she also has artistic credibility - a combination that is not easy to pull off.

She has won an Oscar, a Bafta and Golden Globe for her sensitive portrayal of depressed author Virginia Woolf in The Hours, complete with false nose and English accent.

"A powerful piece of acting that is unsettling in the best sense," said the Los Angeles Times, while Variety said: "Kidman... excels, indicating a new depth and maturity as she brings a potentially difficult character to life."

It is a far cry from her high-kicking turn as Satine in Moulin Rouge, arguably the role that made her a firm fixture on the Hollywood A-list.

Other recent films including The Others, as a disturbed mother, and Birthday Girl, as a Russian mail-order bride, have proved her willingness to tackle difficult projects and her ability to make them work.

NICOLE KIDMAN'S GREATEST HITS
2003 - The Hours
2001 - The Others
2001 - Moulin Rouge (above)
1999 - Eyes Wide Shut
1995 - Batman Forever
1995 - To Die For
1992 - Far and Away
1992 - Billy Bathgate
1990 - Days of Thunder
1989 - Dead Calm
Kidman's star had been rising throughout the 1990s after spending the 1980s in TV series and minor films.

Born in 1967 in Hawaii, she grew up in Australia and performed regularly on the Sydney stage.

There she once received a letter of praise from film student Jane Campion, who went on to direct The Piano.

Her first film was Australian family comedy Bush Christmas in 1983, and she made her breakthrough opposite Sam Neill in 1989 thriller Dead Calm.

It was on her next film, 1990 racetrack romance Days of Thunder, that Kidman met Tom Cruise.

They married on Christmas Eve 1990 after a whirlwind courtship - not harming Kidman's profile and forming one of Hollywood's most celebrated couples.

Kidman reapplied herself to her career, starring as Dustin Hoffman's moll in the gangster movie Billy Bathgate and reuniting with Cruise for Far and Away.

Kidman with Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge
Kidman with Ewan McGregor in Moulin Rouge
She appeared opposite Michael Keaton in tearjerker My Life in 1993 before starring in hit fantasy feature Batman Forever in 1995.

But it was as a fame-obsessed housewife in To Die For that she really made an indelible impression on filmgoers, and the role won her a Golden Globe.

In 1996, Kidman finally worked with Campion on the adaptation of Henry James's Portrait of a Lady.

She also took a break from the big screen to appear in the Blue Room on the London stage - a performance that was described as "pure theatrical Viagra".

In 1997, she began the notoriously long, secretive shoot for Stanley Kubrick's erotic thriller Eyes Wide Shut, which finally hit screens in 1999, after the director's death.

The film prompted speculation over the health of her marriage to Cruise - who admitted that Eyes Wide Shut had put a strain on their marriage.

Kidman and Cruise were married for more than a decade
Kidman and Cruise were married for more than a decade
Seven months after it was finally released, the couple - who had two children - announced that they were to split, blaming the pressures of working apart.

The couple "stressed their great respect for each other, both personally and professionally" at the time.

The dignified way she dealt with the divorce and Cruise's new relationship with Spanish actress Penelope Cruz, and her determination to continue pushing her career, earned her greater respect in Hollywood and among fans.

She threw herself into her work after the split, and said that filming The Hours helped her get through it.

"That was the only thing I did last year, making this movie," she told a newspaper.

"I just didn't want to work. I was like, 'I'm going to pull out. I can't... I just don't... I can't cope with anything and I don't want to do it.' And I'm so glad I stuck with it."

The Hours has built on the success of The Others and Moulin Rouge, which earned her a string of award nominations, signalling that Hollywood took her seriously in her own right.

Her first Oscar nomination came for Moulin Rouge - although she lost out on that occasion to Halle Berry.

New challenges

Kidman and Jack Nicholson triumphed at this year's Globes
Her current schedule looks like she could dominate our screens for the foreseeable future.

After The Hours, she will be seen in Danish director Lars von Trier's US debut Grace, followed by Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain and The Human Stain, opposite Sir Anthony Hopkins.

She will then play Joanna in a remake of The Stepford Wives before taking a role alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in an Alexander the Great epic.

She has also been lined up for a mystery called Birth and is being mooted to play notorious Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss in a film of the vice girl's life.

There are few actresses who can match her - for her versatility, work rate and star power.


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