Born: 20 June 1967 (Age: 44)
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Height: 5' 10"
Awards: 1 Oscar, 1 BAFTA & 3 Golden Globes
It's a mark of Australia's cultural strength that they've provided so many of today's top-line cinematic greats. Aside from the obvious Mel Gibson and Cate Blanchett, there's also the less well-known yet hugely talented likes of Judy Davis and Naomi Watts as well as a couple of New Zealanders who made it in Aussie productions. Step forward, Sam Neill and Russell Crowe. And, of course, there's the woman who, Gibson aside, is the hottest of the lot, the ex-Mrs Cruise but a fine actress and Oscar-winner in her own right - Nicole Kidman.
Strangely, given what most people know of her, Nicole is not a fair dinkum Aussie at all, actually being born on Honolulu, Hawaii (on the 20th of June, 1967), and holding dual US and Australian citizenship. Her father, Anthony, a biochemist and clinical psychologist, had moved to the island with his wife Janelle to work on a research project. Almost as soon as Nicole appeared (she'd be closely followed by sister, Antonia), Anthony's work with breast cancer took the family to Washington DC for three years. It was only then that the girl who would be known as one of Australia's prime exports began life on Antipodean soil, when the Kidmans moved back to the posh Longueville district of Sydney (coincidentally, one of Nicole's most renowned relatives was also named Sydney - he was a cattle baron).
Nicole was an active, artistic child, and focused from an absurdly young age. She began taking ballet lessons at 3, moving onto mime at 8 and drama at 10. Her first public role was at 6, as a loud sheep in her elementary school's Christmas pageant. She grew up fast. Janelle was an active feminist and Anthony a labour advocate, both of them discussing the issues of the day with their kids over dinner and having them hand out pamphlets on the street.
When it came to acting, Nicole possessed the same intensity as her future husband. She was always seen as an outsider - she was known as Storky due to her peculiar height (she fast reached a whopping 5' 11") - and, as she approached her teens she departed even further from her peers. While the other girls were down the beach, eyeing up the boys, Nicole spent her weekends at the Philip Street Theatre, watching, learning. She had her sights set on higher things - as you'd expect from someone whose influences include Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and, above all, Katherine Hepburn - and, indeed, she had her first kiss onstage in Frank Wedekind's Spring Awakening. As the play concerned sexual repression in the late 1800's, it was something of a wild one too, Nicole having to yell "Beat me! Harder! Harder!" each night. More impressive than a clumsy fumble under the pier, eh?