When you’re too young and too in love, “happily ever after” is the only end you see in sight for your relationship. For Nicole Kidman, it wasn’t any different. But after her first marriage came to a painful end, one that she didn’t imagine, she was pushed into one of the most difficult phases of her life. As challenging as it was, that period was also the time where she really grew up.
From the moment they first locked eyes with each other, Kidman was smitten, feeling the spark right on the set of the Days of Thunder. “I was lucky at 22 that I met somebody who fascinated me, amazed me, who could keep me interested,” she told BBC, as quoted by Us Weekly. “I walked in [to the Days of Thunder audition] and [Tom] was the one that stood up and shook my hand. And I just remember… electricity going through me.”
Less than a year after they met, 23-year-old Kidman and 28-year-old Cruise exchanged vows in 1990. On the outside, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise seemed like the perfect couple who had it all. But eventually, the strain of their marriage started weighing down on them.
“I was so young,” Kidman told Vanity Fair. “…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 there is only one other person that’s going through it. So it brings you very close, and it’s deeply romantic… there’s nobody else that understands it except that person who’s sleeping right next to you.”
Although she deeply loved him, the insecurities of her younger self caught up with her, making her often feel like an accessory that complimented Cruise’s stellar image.
“In those early years, it was like, ‘I’m here and I’m clutching onto your arm, and it all feels a little overwhelming and really strange…’ I was shy. Deeply shy,” she told Harper’s Bazaar, according to Guff.
“I thought, I don’t deserve to be here. We would go to the Oscars and I would think, I’m here to support him. I felt it was my job to put on a beautiful dress and to be seen and not heard,” she told Marie Claire.
Over time, things spiraled out of control and they split in 2000, as reported by People. “It took me a very long time to heal,” Kidman said. “It was a shock to my system.”
A time of immense heartache began for her after the end of her marriage. At the Women In the World Summit in London, according to E! Online, Kidman recalled, “I was running from my life at that time.”
Even though she went on to gain recognition as an actor, the void inside her remained for a long time. When she won her first Academy Award in 2003, she said the award “can show you the emptiness of your own life, which is kind of what it showed me.”
She admitted to Who magazine, “There were times following [the divorce] when I thought, ‘Wow, this is the loneliest, loneliest existence’.”
But with time, she was able to put things back together and heal from the pain of separating from Cruise. Kidman said, “I was a child, really, when I got married. And I needed to grow up.” And she eventually evolved to be the admired and lauded woman that she always deserved to be. Apart from building for herself a successful career, she found the man she was meant to be with, Keith Urban, whom she married and continues to have a wonderful relationship with.
No longer the naive young girl she once was, she told Red magazine, “When you’re older, you’ve been through things, you’ve made mistakes. So you come into it [a second marriage], still giddy, but wanting it to last. We always consider the ‘us’. We say, ‘Is this going to be good for us?’ It’s the simplest phrase, but it works.”