The stunning transformation of Nicole Kidman

Beautiful. Perfect. Funny — oh, and seriously talented. There isn't a negative word to use when talking about Nicole Kidman. This actress has been wow-ing the world on screen for decades and only continues to reach new levels of success, taking on new, challenging roles that remind us just why we respect her so much.

Aside from her career, Kidman has been married to Keith Urban for over a decade and the couple only looks more and more in love as the years go by. She takes on the role of super mom with her four kids. And whenever we see this star on the red carpet, she appears gracious and happy. Over the years, Kidman has gone through her own struggles and successes, and has handled them all like the classy lady she is. So let's take a closer look at the life of Kidman and her stunning transformation.

Her relationship with her parents

Kidman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1967, and grew up in Sydney, Australia. She had her focus on academics in her younger years, as her father was a biochemist. He taught Kidman and her younger sister many lessons and enforced a few rules. According to Kidman's interview with Vanity Fair, she used to have to do push-ups every day.

As Kidman said in the interview, "When I was six years old, I was in class at school, and we all had to say what our fathers had taught us…I answered, 'He taught me always to exercise — and never vote Republican.' My teacher almost fell off her chair." And as for Kidman's relationship with her mother, it was not the most affectionate. As The Guardian reported, Kidman's mother once said to her daughter, "I'm not the kind of mother who's going to hug you. It's just not me, so don't expect it." But even without the hugs, Kidman still took care of her mom when times were tough.

Helping her mother, through cancer

When Kidman was 17 years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This had a huge affect on the teen and made her want to help. As she later described to Vanity Fair, "My mother had breast cancer when I was 17, and it affected me in such a deep way. You see someone go through chemotherapy and it's a year of hell. It's the most upsetting thing that's ever happened in my life, but it also made me very aware. I had to confront death at an early age, had to realize that people are mortal — you're born, you die. I'm sure I have rain up ahead and I'm sure I also have sunshine, and that's life."

Kidman's mom beat the disease, but her mother's journey stuck with Kidman. She continued to want to give back. She later became involved with the U.C.L.A. Women's Reproductive Cancer Research and Treatment Program as a chairperson. For Kidman, it's a simple fact that she should give back. As she said during the interview, "I believe that as much as you take, you have to give back. It's important not to focus on yourself too much."

She knew she wanted to act for a long time

Kidman has known since her toddler years that her life was meant to be in the arts. As she described to Vanity Fair, "I started ballet when I was three, all on my own initiative. I did mime and street theater, and I started weekend drama school when I was about nine. I left school when I was 17 — I knew what I wanted to do."

But even though Kidman knew this was her path, she had some struggles getting there. As she told the magazine, "I didn't enjoy being what I was. I was really tall, and I wasn't the girl who got all the boys. 'Stalky' was my nickname — that's what they called me. I'd audition for school plays and I'd get rejected because I was too tall." It's hard to picture Kidman being rejected, and with her talent, those no's would soon turn into yes. Kidman continued to work hard, and soon found success at Sydney's Phillip Street Theatre.

How acting led to marriage

Kidman began to see film success in her early twenties. She then was cast in the Tom Cruise movie, Days of Thunder, and in addition to starring in the film, she also struck up a relationship with the leading man himself. The two married when Kidman was just 23 years old. As her career was taking off, and Cruise's was in full gear, the two had a very well known union.

Kidman later reflected on this fact with Vanity Fair, saying, "There is something about that sort of existence that, if you really focus on each other and you're in that bubble, it's very intoxicating, because it's just the two of you. And there is only one other person that's going through it. So it brings you very close, and it's deeply romantic." And Kidman and Cruise were willing to do what it took to make the marriage work. They had crazy schedules but understood what they had to do. Kidman said, "I think in this industry you can get lax, you can get lazy, and that's so destructive to your relationship. If it means getting on a plane and having to fly in to see each other, even if it's for 24 hours, you do it. It's the thing that keeps you together. Life's too short to endure months of separation, where you're on the phone going, 'wish, I wish, I wish.'"

Becoming a mom at a young age

Marriage at 23 years old was not the only big moment for Kidman. Just two years later, the 25-year-old, along with her husband, Cruise, adopted their daughter, Isabella. Even though so young, Kidman knew this was meant to be, later reflecting on the time, saying, "It's fate, completely. The adoption was a very spontaneous thing: we decided to adopt her because the situation came up. I just believe, for whatever reason, that these children were meant to be in our family." Kidman mentioned that she would like to give birth to children as well, but if that didn't happen, "It's not going to destroy me."

At the time, Kidman knew she and Cruise had to work even harder for their relationship. She continued, saying, "You have to really work to create time alone, without it being time the children should be having. It's about saying, 'Honey, I really, really need time with you alone. I need a dinner date!'"

The days of divorce

In 2001, Kidman was reaching even greater fame. She starred in popular films like The Others and Moulin Rouge!, but through the success, the actress was having a tough home life. At the time, the 34-year-old was going through a divorce with then-husband Cruise. It was not an easy time, and Kidman used this opportunity to work more. As she described at the 2015 Women in the World Summit in London (via Entertainment Tonight), "To be completely honest, I was running from my life at that time…I wasn't able to handle the reality of my life and as an actor you have this wonderful thing where you can go and get lost in somebody else's life and become somebody else for a period of time, and when I look back on it, I really see that."

But even with the opportunity to escape, Kidman didn't seem to have any regrets when it came to the marriage. She told Australia's WHO Magazine (via People), "I got married really fast and really young. But I don't regret that because it got me [children] Bella and Connor, and I did have a fantastic marriage for a long period."

Feeling lonely in success

Great art also came out of a tough time for Kidman. She threw herself into her work and the results were noticed. As she later talked about her divorce and what happened next, she said, "Out of that came work that was applauded, so that was an interesting thing for me, because I was like, 'Ah.' So I then embraced my own life and I got myself together and it took me a number of years, and during that time I worked a lot…The work was a great place for me to exist."

Her work was so impressive that Kidman won the Oscar in 2003 for her leading role in The Hours. And it was in this moment that Kidman realized something. "That [work] culminated in winning an Oscar and that caused an epiphany," she said. "I was sitting in the Beverly Hills Hotel [holding this gold statue] and it was all extraordinary and I was the loneliest I'd ever been." But she wouldn't be lonely forever.

Meeting her match

For a few more years, Kidman continued to work, and at the same time, continued to feel a sense of loneliness. And then in 2005, the 38-year-old met someone who would be very important in her life. As she later told Vanity Fair (via E! Online), "I think we were two lonely people. I would probably say that two very lonely people managed to meet at a time when they could open themselves to each other. We were a mixture of frightened and brave."

This person was Keith Urban, and his and Kidman's relationship took off fast. The couple married quickly in 2006. Kidman explained the situation to Elle (via The Huffington Post), saying, "I kind of like getting married and then getting to know each other. I know that it sounds incredibly strange, but to me, it's a more natural process."

Moving away from the fame

In recent years, Kidman's career has continued to excel, but the star is totally happy to stay away from Hollywood, outside of her job. She lives in Nashville with Urban and their family and couldn't be happier. In 2013, the 46-year-old told Vanity Fair, "The whole business side of it — it's too present. It doesn't suit me…There's an enormous amount you have to give up if you want to have a family. You can have a certain career, but you can't be living in Hollywood, [where] absolutely everything, everything revolves around it. That wasn't my choice. I'd rather revolve around somebody else's career and then still find my own."

Because of this, Nashville became the perfect spot. She continued on to say, "I have stepped away from the fame part of it. I didn't find what I was looking for in fame. So I went, O.K., this is not for me. And it was such a blessing that I found somebody who said, 'Well, are you willing to move to Tennessee?' And I was, 'Oh, am I willing to move!'"

She's a wild card

As someone who has taken on such memorable roles, Kidman must have specific strategy when picking her next part, right? Not so much. As she told Town & Country, "I call myself the wild card…because I have no idea what it is. I'm so spontaneous — sometimes to my detriment and sometimes my benefit — but it's how I've always been. My husband never knows what I'm going to choose. And then he'll ask me to explain why and I can't!"

Kidman is the first to admit she's not perfect and sometimes her choices don't end up being just right, but she's going with her gut. She continued on to say, "The mistakes I've made have always involved people not matching the extreme artistic desire — when I've tried to be a bit more homogenized, or tried not to be as bold. When I've been guided into places that don't suit what I am intrinsically — that's when it doesn't work out…My whole thing is, I'm going to try it. I think that's probably frustrating to people who wish for me to be more strategic. But I've been the same way since I was 14. I don't conform…That's just my nature."

What's next for Kidman?

With Kidman's recent Oscar-nominated performance in Lion and her powerful role in the HBO series Big Little Lies, it's clear that Kidman is not slowing down. She continues to surprise us with her artistic choices and knocks it out of the park each time. Whether she is giving an intense soliloquy in character, or jokingly telling Jimmy Fallon he could have asked her out in the past, she never fails to surprise.

I myself don't know what's on deck for Kidman, but from the sound of it, she doesn't necessarily know either. And that's fantastic. She is a breath of fresh air, and I'm anxiously waiting to see what she challenges herself to do next.

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