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Nicole Kidman "Children are the joy of my life"

Simple pleasures of home and family are the touchstone for this reluctant star. By Simon Evans

for Eleven years, as one half of Hollywood's foremost golden couple, Nicole Kid,an lived in the eye of the storm. She handled it better than most, but becoming one of the most famous women in the world came at the rice of her privacy.

Today, moments away from the glare of the spotlight are precious, and Nicole's idea of a perfect weekend is a sing song round the piano with friends, or spending time at home with her young family.

Her introduction to he Hollywood lifestyle came when she met her future husband Tom Cruise, in 1989, when they both starred in the film Days of Thunder. It was Nicole's first major role, and came off the back of her acclaimed part in the thriller Dead Calm.

Nicole and Tom were married in 1990 and, although unable to conceive a child of their own, adopted 2 children, Connor and Isabella.

The pressure of constantly being in the public eye took its toll, but also, for a while at least, borough them closer together, as Nicole reveals to Vanity Fair many years after the relationship ended.

"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 here is only one other person that's going through it. So it brings you very close, and it's deeply romantic because there's nobody else who understands it except that person who's sleeping right next to you."

The relationship disintegrated after the couple made the film Eyes Wide Shut together in 1999. It was the film director Stanley Kubrick's last movie- he dies four days after showing the final cit to the production company.- and although a commercial success its storyline, which concerned a failing marriage, inevitable sparked comparisons with its stars real-life relationship.

There had already been mutterings that Cruise's devotion to the Scientology religious cult had caused problems in the marriage, ad there had even been unfounded questions raised over his sexuality, especially cruel given that the couple had not been able o have a child of their own (Nicole had suffered and ectopic pregnancy early in the marriage).Nicole and Tom were divorced in 2001 and shared custody of their children, but Connor and Isabella, who are now in their 20s opted to live with their father and were brought up as Scientologists. Their relationship with their mother has not always been easy, but in interviews Nicole has been keen to stress that she ahad no regrets ocer her union with Cruise. "It was a beautiful marriage and 2 beautiful children came out of it.

"The children are still part of my life and my heart but they are adults now and they have their own lives."

Nicole's guard comes up when talking about her relationship with Connor and Isabella, as Woman Hour presenter Jenni Murray discovered during a recent radio interview.

"I don't discuss any of it. I don't discuss any of my children in terms of their privacy. All I say is there's unconditional love, and it's that simple" Nicole told her,, later complaining "God, you guys are personal".

She has, however,, been more forthcoming about her experiences as adoptive parent when discussing the recent film Lion for which she was nominated for an Academy Award.

For her role in the film Nicole went back to her roots plating a real-life Australian who, with her husband adopted and raised two Indian boys. She described Lion as a "love letter to my adoptive children.

"When I read the script I didn't know ir was a true story and I was still moved," she told the Telegraph. "I just wanted to be in it. I hadn't played an Australian woman like this, so it was my way of connecting back to my country. And I loved the message of unconditional love. It's not about anything other than 'I wanted you and whatever your journey is, I'm here to love and support you'. That's what I connected to "

Although she was born to Australian parents, and grew up in Sydney Nicole was born, and spent her early years in Hawaii, whee her father was a graduate student.

Nicole displayed a natural talent for acting at school and says she was first inspired to become an actress after seeing Margaret Hamilton playing the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz.

As with so many actors, taking on a role was a way of overcoming Nicole's basic shyness something that has never left her, which is perhaps why her reserve has often been interpreted as glacial indifference.

"I am very shy- really shy" she says, "I even had a stutter as a kid, which slowly I got over, but I still regress into that shyness. So I don't like walking in to a crowded restaurant by myself; I don't like going to a party by myself."

She studied at the Philip Street Theatre in Sydney- Naomi Watts was in the same class- followed by the Australian Theatre for Young People.

At the age of 16 Nicole started picking up small television roles, but put her career on hold to care for her mother Janelle, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Nicole – who was just 17 at the time – even took a massage course in order to help with her mother’s rehabilitation. 

“It was quite advanced breast cancer. She had chemotherapy and radio and is a survivor now,” Nicole said. “I think it had an effect on me. It imprinted on me in a way I will never forget.

Once her mother was fully recovered Nicole was able to pick up her career where she left off, starring in the 1988 film Emerald City before the breakthrough role in Dead Calm.

Marriage to Cruise thrust Nicole into the eye of the storm, but also brought with it some of the most lucrative and high-profile roles of her career, including Batman Forever and To Die For.

The divorce did not seem to do her any harm, either, as she was cast in Moulin Rouge, for which Nicole received her first Academy Award nomination. A year later she was back at the Oscars, this time to pick up the best actress statuette for her remarkable portrayal of Virginia Woolf in The Hours. Any doubts that Nicole owed her success to her famous ex-husband had surely been banished for good, but emotionally she struggled to form long-term attachments, the closest she came to getting married again being to the rock guitarist Lenny Kravitz. “It just wasn’t right,” she said later. “I wasn’t ready. We weren’t ready. I get engaged and I get married – that’s my thing.”

In 2005 she met New Zealand-born country singer Keith Urban at a party and they were married the following year. Just four months later, however, Keith checked into the Betty Ford clinic in California for three months to try and curb his drinking habit. Nicole stood by him, and, as a result, the couple agreed they would spend no longer than three days apart. “That for me is love in action,” Nicole said.

“When I met Keith, the connection between us was deep, there was a loneliness in both of us. It doesn’t matter how famous you are – you can still feel loneliness and we saw that in each other. We got engaged after a month, and that was a leap of faith for both of us.”

Of Urban’s addiction issues, Nicole said “I learnt an enormous amount having a relationship with someone in recovery. We were in a bad, painful place and managed to step through it. I love him for his honesty and bravery. I’m very lucky to have him.”

Nicole – who turns 50 this year – had suffered the disappointment of not being able to conceive naturally in the past, so the couple were overjoyed when they discovered she was pregnant with their first child. Sunday Rose was born in July 2008 and two years later their second daughter, Faith, was born, this time having being conceived through a surrogacy

“After so many years of trying, it was so against the odds,” Nicole said. “We went through a surrogacy with my second daughter because we wanted another child so much that it hurt. I felt my chances of conceiving again were slimmer and slimmer. And then we got Faith.”

And Nicole sees no reason to stop there.“Keith and I would love to have more babies. My grandmother gave birth to my mother at 49. I would be beyond happy and just welcome it with open arms.

“Children are the joy of my life. In everything that has happened in my life, being a mother has been the overriding thing that has changed everything and made it better.”

For the past ten years Nicole and Keith have been settled in Nashville.

“It’s so good for us,” Nicole told the Telegraph. “It’s very quiet and easy, and it’s just a really lovely way of life.

“On weekends we’ll go to people’s houses and everybody is around the piano and playing the guitar and singing. I’ve been around actors and filmmakers my whole life, so now I love being around musicians and seeing what gets put into their music. I get to sit in the background and listen and watch and hum along.”

Clearly Nicole has obviously reached what would now be fashionably described as “a good place” in her life.

“I don’t think I would ever have imagined this. But if I really think about it, I was lucky enough to get a job when I was 14 and I’m still doing pretty much the same thing as I was then – and with the same amount of passion.”

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