Nicole Kidman

When Nicole Kidman, an acclaimed starlet in her native Australia, moved to the US in 1990, she captured both Hollywood's biggest star and some key film roles. Critics said being Tom Cruise's real-life love interest gave her career new impetus. But in the wake of their split in 2001 it became clear she'd left the Mrs Cruise label far behind.

The 5ft 10in stunner was born on June 20, 1967, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Anthony Kidman, a respected biochemist, and Janelle, a social activist and nursing instructor. The couple had settled in their native Australia by the time Nicole was three years old. At the age of 14, she was starring in the Oz movie Bush Christmas, and three years later took home the Australian Oscar equivalent for Vietnam. Yet it was 1989\'s psychological thriller Dead Calm that made her the hottest export from Down Under since Foster\'s lager. It was then that she moved Stateside, and met the man she would marry.

"I believe in lust at first sight," Nicole said of her first encounter with Tom Cruise, her co-star in 1990\'s race car flick Days Of Thunder. Though the actor was married to actress Mimi Rogers at the time, he soon divorced and, after a whirlwind two-month courtship, married Nicole in a private Christmas Eve ceremony in Telluride, Colorado.

She went on to adorn a series of lacklustre Hollywood films including Billy Bathgate and Malice, until an enigmatic note she\'d once received from Jane Campion came back to haunt her.

While studying at film school, Jane (Oscar-winning director of The Piano) had seen Nicole on stage in a high school production and left the budding actress a note reading "Protect your talent". "I didn\'t understand the note at all," Nicole said years later. "I just thought, \'Well, how am I going to protect it?\'. I have just got to get out there and work. Now I understand what she was saying."

Fed up with mediocre parts, she lobbied fiercely for the lead role in To Die For, which eventually brought her a Golden Globe. Jane Campion\'s Portrait Of A Lady followed, then Stanley Kubrick\'s Eyes Wide Shut, with Tom, before Nicole caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic in a racy stage production of The Blue Room, which one critic labelled "pure theatrical viagra".

In February 2001, Nicole and Tom split. Speculation on the rift included everything from religious differences to conflicting views on how to raise their two adopted children, Isabella and Conor. Yet throughout the firestorm the screen beauty remained stoic, saying little and pouring her energies into promoting the eagerly anticipated big screen version of the musical Moulin Rouge, which had been selected to open the prestigious Cannes Film Festival.

Romance came into her life again when she hooked up with Country singer and fellow Aussie Keith Urban. The couple\'s appearance at the 2006 Grammys confirmed what had been obvious from Nicole\'s smile for some time - she was head over heels in love. A few months later the loved-up pair made their vows in a cliff-top chapel in Sydney. Many of their homeland\'s most glamorous citizens, including Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts, were there to see the blushing bride walk down the aisle in a dazzling empire-waisted gown by Nicola Ghesquiere.

The actress\' career has also gone from strength to strength, fuelled by her triumph at the 2002 Academy Awards. On Oscar night, with her mum and daughter in the audience, a solo Nicole found herself tearfully grasping a best actress statuette for her work as Virginia Woolf in The Hours. As the first Australian star to take home a best actress gong, it seems she\'s been rewarded for heeding Jane Campion\'s early advice.
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