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Time Magazine, April 26th 2004 - 100 Most Influential People

Actingís Adventurer


If it seems as if Nicole Kidman has amped up her acting challenges in the past few years, itís no accident. "For 10 years my marriage defined me far more strongly than my work," she says of her union with Tom Cruise. "I wasnít choosing movies for any other reason than dabbling here and there because I thought, Oh well, I want to keep my hand in." Rarely did a woman depart the dilettante lounge with as much resolve as she. Kidmanís postmartial roles have included a clinically depressed writer (Virginia Woolf in The Hours, for which she won an Oscar), an abused cleaning lady recovering from the death of her children (The Human Stain), a Carolina woman barely getting by during the Civil War (Cold Mountain) and a fugitive victimized by nasty townspeople in the American West (Dogville). Sometimes unhappiness has its own reward.


These days Kidman has so many awards and accolades, itís getting boring. But she isnít. She has the ability, like a glass bullet, to carry fragility and force, to be beautiful and a little unnerving. While her work reeks of an almost clinical precision, Kidmanís approach is fallible and inexact. "I just feel my way through," she says. "If I had to give an acting class, I wouldnít know what to do."


Though her post-Oscar movies have not been big hits, her new willingness to experiment is being noticed. She gets labelled an ice queen but is more daring than any of her contemporaries of similar box-office clout. Can you see Julia Roberts making a movie as limited in its appeal as Dogville? Kidman is not the first star to play down her beauty for a role, but her bold choices have set a new bar for Hollywood actresses. And now as a producer (In the Cut), sheís creating juicy roles for more of them.


She has helped redeem a country too. Sometimes, in a world shared with Rupert Murdoch, the Crocodile Hunter and the Wiggles, itís hard to be Australian - as if the country is full of curios and barbarians. Kidman is Australiaís best evidence of passion and sophistication, though she doesnít see it. "Really?" she says. "Oh, Ďd like to think I have a sliver of vulgarity."
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