Kidman was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. She lived in the United States until she was four, when her family moved to Australia. Her father, Tony Kidman, was researching breast cancer in Washington, D.C. and at one stage, a lecturer at the University of Technology, Sydney. She started taking ballet lessons when she was three and studied at St. Martin's Youth Theater, Australian theater for Young People, and Philip Street Theater. Nicole's father had her and her younger sister do push ups and jumping jacks in the morning, to keep them fit.
She started her acting career at 14, when she starred in Bush Christmas. The movie is still often played at Christmas time. Nicole dropped out of North Sydney High School when her mother got breast cancer. When her mother recovered, Nicole continued with her acting career. Throughout the 1980s she appeared in many Australian movies and TV series, notably including BMX Bandits, and the miniseries Bangkok Hilton.
Nicole gained notice in the US with Dead Calm, which lead to her American debut in Days of Thunder, a stock-car racing movie opposite Tom Cruise. Although Cruise was married to actress Mimi Rogers at the time, he and Kidman became an item. Cruise divorced Rogers and the couple married on Christmas Eve of 1990 in Telluride, Colorado. The wedding was a secret at the time. She was in Billy Bathgate with Bruce Willis and Dustin Hoffman and in 1992 she was in Ron Howard's Far and Away. She starred in Batman Forever, and then in The Portrait of a Lady. They adopted two children, Isabella and Connor, and lived in Los Angeles, California, Australia, Colorado, and New York. They starred in Eyes Wide Shut in 1999 - the last film by Stanley Kubrick - and in 1998 Nicole was one of the three witches in Practical Magic.
In February 2001, Cruise stunned Hollywood by filing for divorce; the reasons are still murky. Cruise would only say that Nicole "knows why", while Kidman let it be known that she was pregnant by Cruise when he left her just before their 10th wedding anniversay, and had just miscarried the child. Some speculated that Cruise left Kidman because he didn't think he was the father, while some questioned the timing, noting that, since the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, Cruise would have had to pay Kidman many millions if they divorced past the 10 year mark. As it was, he reportedly paid her $65 million. Industry insiders commented that the primary cause of the divorce may have been Nicole's refusal to allow Isabella and Connor to be raised in Scientology, which Cruise is a devoted practitioner of; she wanted them to be raised Catholic instead.
Kidman's most professionally successful year was 2001, with her Oscar-nominated performance in Moulin Rouge and well-received star turn in a horror film, The Others. While in Australia filming Moulin Rouge, Kidman injured her knee, so Jodie Foster had to replace her in Panic Room. She won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance as Virginia Woolf in The Hours.
As a singer, she began her career in 2001 by collaborating with Ewan McGregor on the song Come What May, on the Moulin Rouge Soundtrack (the song debuted and peaked at #27 on the UK Singles Chart). Then she collaborated with Robbie Williams on the song Somethin' Stupid, a cover of the old swing song on Williams' swing covers album Swing When You're Winning (debuting and peaking at #8 in the Australian ARIAnet Singles Chart, and at #1 for three weeks in the UK, also becoming the UK Christmas #1 Single for 2001).
In 2004, Kidman appeared in the remake of The Stepford Wives alongside Glenn Close, Faith Hill and Bette Midler. In September of the same year, Kidman was booed at the premiere of her movie Birth in which the 37 year-old actress' character falls in love with a 10 year-old boy. Scores of people walked out of the theater during a scene where the actress and boy shared a bath together. Despite the poor reception, the film was nominated for the prestigious Golden Lion Award.
Emma's War, Alexander The Great, The Interpreter, The Producers and Bewitched are future movies for Kidman.
Kidman's sister Antonia is an entertainment reporter for an Australian television program.
Kidman is also a well renowned fashion paradigm and a frequent "Best Dressed" staple.
In August 2004, the Australian magazine BRW listed Kidman as the richest Australian woman under the age of 40, with an estimated worth of 155 million A$ (Australian dollars), or $107 million in United States dollars.