Kidman: They flew me over (to America), and suddenly, agents were calling me. Generally, I was dragged over because I was being given so much work in Australia, and I had a boyfriend and didn't really want to leave. (At first,) I came over to do auditions, and then I met my husband-to-be (Tom Cruise) when I was 21.
THR: How did Tom Cruise impact you professionally?
Kidman: In a huge way. The person you love, that you almost exist for ... at the same time, a huge amount of my desire to work was taken away because you're happy, and it's far more fun to be in love and not have to get up at 5 a.m. or transform yourself into somebody else when you just want to be around one particular person. He exposed me to a whole world that was so much bigger than I ever understood -- the extent of the industry -- and he was the biggest actor in the world when I met him, and continues to be. He was a huge, huge force.
THR: Did he change anything about the way you approach acting?
Kidman: I think we have very different ways of working, but we are both passionate about it. I was passionate about it -- whether I was watching him or just being on set or reading a play. And he was doing extraordinary films with wonderful directors. I didn't really get any great role till (1995's) "To Die For," but I got to see these extraordinary directors -- Sydney Pollack and Rob Reiner and Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese -- he had worked with all of them, and they were all still present in his life. I was always so excited to watch him do his work. I loved his talent.
THR: Beyond his influence, have your own ideas on acting changed?
Kidman: When I came out of my marriage, my ideas changed. I suddenly was able to go, "OK, now you put your experiences (into the work) because now you have them to such a deep degree." There were so many things that had amassed that I had never expressed. It was almost like this pressure cooker being allowed to go, "OK, now it's all right to go and put all of these things into your work, and you are not going to be betraying any privacy. You are going to expose yourself, but that's OK." So much is about having the capacity and the desire and the willingness to leave yourself exposed on a very, very broad public level. But to do it in your work gives it a truth and a weight. I look at people like (songwriter) Joni Mitchell and the way she left her soul so bare through her lyrics and songs; I so admired that and am so willing to go there.
THR: Do you think that is why the public's perception of you has changed? You had a certain image of coolness, which nobody who knows you connects with the real Nicole Kidman.
Kidman: It was about fear, whether it was a coolness or shyness, and also not feeling I had a place really other than as a wife. I always felt like, "Oh, don't attract attention to yourself, stand back, out of the way." I felt slightly embarrassed, which is so hard to explain to people. I didn't feel comfortable a lot of the time, however that gets interpreted. I felt comfortable in my relationship and in the privacy of my home, but I didn't feel comfortable on that broader level at all. So that was part of it. I felt safe with him (Cruise). I didn't feel safe anywhere else.
THR: Do you feel safe now?
Kidman: I think as you get older, you feel you can survive things -- that safe or unsafe isn't the important thing. It's about being able to connect with people, being willing to be exposed and vulnerable and raw and, at the same time, knowing you have to get through life. Life can be cruel, and then it can be incredibly joyous, and you grapple with things at certain times of your life. There's a struggle, and I went through a lot of things. It's now going away, and I am finding the strength to be alone.