Nicole Kidman on winning her Oscar: ‘I went to bed alone; I was in bed before midnight’

No one really had a divorce/comeback storyline like Nicole Kidman, before or since. Those of us old farts who watched it unfold in real time were in awe. She went from one half of THE Hollywood A-list couple to a woman divorcing her Scientologist husband, all while dealing with a miscarriage and (basically) being forced to leave her two kids in Scientology so she could escape. Then Nicole rewrote her own narrative, doing a string of acclaimed and award-winning films and showing up to every red carpet looking like a million bucks. Moulin Rouge, The Others, The Hours, Cold Mountain, Dogville, all released within a three-year period, with Nicole getting back-to-back Best Actress Oscar nominations in 2002 and 2003. She ended up winning in 2003 for The Hours. While she was riding a professional high during that tumultuous period, she was mostly single and trying to figure out what was next for her romantically. That is the focus of Nicole’s version of her 2003 Oscar-winning night. Kidman spoke to Dave Karger for his new book, 50 Oscar Nights, about what she felt and did on that night.

As Nicole Kidman’s career reached one of its highest peaks, the actress was experiencing one of her most personal lows. The star, 56, won her first Oscar in 2003 for playing Virginia Woolf in The Hours, just a year after her first nomination for Moulin Rouge!. But behind her bright smile and glamorous Jean-Paul Gaultier gown hid a private struggle; Kidman had recently finalized her divorce from Tom Cruise after 11 years of marriage.

“I was struggling with things in my personal life, yet my professional life was going so well,” she told author Dave Karger in his new book 50 Oscar Nights (on sale Jan. 23). “ That’s what happens, right?”

On stage, Kidman briefly broke down before composing herself (“Russell Crowe said don’t cry when you get up there and now I’m crying”), and was played off before she was able to finish her speech. Afterwards, she felt the urge to go home.

“I’m not a big party girl, so I was going to skip the Vanity Fair party, and everyone was like, ‘You’ve got to go. You’ve got to walk through the party carrying your Academy Award,’” she recalls in the book. “I said, ‘That just feels like gloating, and it doesn’t feel humble.’ Like, what? You can’t walk through carrying the award! That feels really inappropriate. They’re like, ‘That’s what you do.’”

Ultimately, she did go to the storied bash, at least for a little while, with her engraved Oscar in hand: “So I literally walked in, carried it around, was completely overwhelmed, emotional, shaking, and I didn’t enjoy it. I was almost apologetic, which is so stupid. I wish I could have enjoyed it more,” she says. Afterwards, in the quiet of her hotel room, Kidman was confronted with the urge to find love again.

“I went home and ended up ordering takeout and eating it on the floor of the Beverly Hills Hotel,” she says. “I sat on the floor of the hotel eating French fries and a burger with my family and went to bed. That’s when it hit me. I went, I need to find my love; I need a love in my life. Because this is supposed to be when you go, ‘This is ours.’”

The Oscar evening ended with a whimper. “I went to bed alone; I was in bed before midnight. If I ever won again, I’m telling you, I’d be out for 24 hours.”

[From People]

I get it – she was still in the middle of that crazy ride which started when Tom Cruise filed for divorce. She barely had time to think, she was working on back-to-back projects and she had a moment of taking-stock on Oscar night. Something I hate is this idea that a single woman can’t or shouldn’t be proud of her achievements, or that an Oscar means nothing unless Nicole had a boyfriend or husband to validate her and her award. But I also think it’s more complicated than that in Nicole’s case.

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36 Responses to “Nicole Kidman on winning her Oscar: ‘I went to bed alone; I was in bed before midnight’”

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  1. KeKe Swan says:

    I think she just meant she expected there would be someone to share it with. I think she’d always imagined that someone would be Tom… And then it wasn’t.

    Kind of amazing that NICOLE KIDMAN suffers from imposter syndrome, too, though. I think the rest of us can cut ourselves some slack!

    • StillDouchesOfCambridge says:

      Me too I understand it as she would have liked to have shared the moment with someone she loves – “this is ours”.
      Nicole must be a really good and loving person that’s why she keeps working, people must love having her around. Her divorce with Tom cruise didnt shake her professionaly, that means something. Deep down Tom cruise must really regret his move about nicole. I love that old movie Far And Away with tom and nicole. Wish it was on netflix, id watch it a 100 times more

  2. Bumblebee says:

    She lost a full family. A husband, 2 children, a miscarriage. I can’t imagine how painful and lonely that would be.

    • SAS says:

      Yeah, this is it. She seems like a sensitive soul and she also openly adored her family. It’s actually shattering to think about what she went through.

  3. ABCD says:

    On a shallow note, I remember how boring I found her dress back then and looking at the photos now, absolutely LOVE it – it’s simple, beautifully tailored and really holds up style wise. I believe she had shared custody and there were a few years as her as a single mom, spending time with her kids – the estrangement came later when the kids where brain washed against her by scientology. It’s so devastating and an experience like this can truly break someone.

    • Concern Fae says:

      I think it came when they were old enough that the court couldn’t order them to see her. My guess is Scientology didn’t want the bad publicity of estrangement coming up in a custody fight. Really sad.

      I get so furious when people slam her for “ignoring” her adopted kids. It gets explained and the response is always that Scientology shouldn’t matter, it’s all on Nicole because she’s their mother. I get that this is deeply personal for adoptive parents and adoptees. You’d think Tom going no contact with his daughter would convince them, but they just want to be angry.

    • Lexilla says:

      Her dress was subdued because the whole ceremony was scaled down in the wake of the U.S. invasion of Iraq a few weeks prior. The Acadamy was urged to postpone the show but went ahead anyway, and a lot of actors didn’t attend. I’m surprised that isn’t mentioned in this post. I hope it’s included in the book.

    • Aurora says:

      Yes please. It is implied she left the kids with Tom in order to escape him and CoS and it wasn’t the case. According to her back then, it was his idea to get divorced, and she’s hinted it could be bc he resented she wouldn’t fully join CoS.
      They shared custody on the kids, who veered towards Scientology through their father as they spent time with him as minors. One thing you can’t deny Tom is that he seems to be a persistent advocate for whatever he’s passionate about. Those kids didn’t stand a chance to avoid being brainwashed by CoS. There was nothing Nicole could do about it.

  4. Feebee says:

    It’s sad such a night for her was so bittersweet. On such a professional high but a terrible time personally. She deserved to be eating that burger on the way home at 3am.

  5. Mrs. Smith says:

    I’m so glad everything worked out for her! Keith Urban is such a nice guy and I think they are wonderful together. I love it when people can find happiness and success after starting over.

  6. FYI says:

    “I sat on the floor of the hotel eating French fries and a burger with my family and went to bed.”

    Sounds great to me! Is this excerpt implying that she felt blue because she wasn’t partnered? Sounds like she DID share the victory with people who care about her. Having a husband isn’t the be-all, end-all.

    • BeanieBean says:

      That was my thinking, too, when I read that part! She wasn’t alone! She had family who loved her & were with her all the way.

    • Thinking says:

      If she was used to being married and having kids, I can see how it would feel weird for her. She married at 23 and got divorced at 33 — her young adult existence was used to the idea of being with someone and having a family. And I think the divorce was still new. Being married at 23 probably wasn’t unusual at the time she married Tom. Add in the Scientology aspect of people trying to take away your kids or cutting them off, and the whole experience probably felt even weirder. Plus, I think the ex-husband was at the actual ceremony and she had to avoid bumping into him.

      I vaguely remember Jennifer Connelly looking sad when she won because she had just been through a break-up. If the events are too recent, one would probably feel miserable with all those cameras on you and people staring at you accessing how your face looks.

      • Yup, Me says:

        Especially true if the ex husband takes up a lot of space (in the relationship and in life) like Tom Cruise seems to do.

    • Jaded says:

      It was the suddenness and cruelty of Tom’s filing for divorce. He chose a cult over his marriage and cut her out of his life with surgical precision. Just after she’d had a miscarriage. As Bella and Connor grew up, Scientology turned them against her, she became an SP (suppressive person in Co$ lingo) and she’s rarely seen them over the years. So small wonder she felt so lonely, one minute you have a husband, a couple of kids and a baby on the way, the next it’s all gone.

      • Elizabeth says:

        I remember what a shock it was when it was announced that TC had filed for divorce because they had done some vow renewal only weeks before, and he tried to date their separation to before their 10th anniversary. It was just unbelievably cruel, and then she miscarried. I really felt for her and was so glad she married Keith Urban.

      • FYI says:

        It wasn’t like, one minute to the next though. She won the Oscar two years after the divorce filing.
        I’m not saying she can’t be sad — not at all. Just saying, this wasn’t like the next week or anything.

    • Aurora says:

      Most likely, there were particular marriage dynamics revolving around her possible Oscar nod for Moulin Rouge, and she had the whole ‘We did it together’ thing figured out when he just asked her for divorce. If that was the case, such reminiscence could have hit her hard.
      It might also that she just missed the complicity of a SO; or just hadn’t really gotten over Tom, whose place in whatever stance must be very difficult to feel. As much as I resent his support to CoS, he has presence and charm for ages. That’s what keeps him a profitable leading man in action movies despite his age and everything else.

    • Klaw says:

      Have you gone through a divorce with small children? I have, and had a very supportive network of family and friends. I still felt so alone and sad. The vision of my future had changed so much – it’s like the whole earth had suddenly rotated on its axis beneath me. Lots of moments of cognitive dissonance that you just can’t control.

      No one should be judging the feelings she had in that moment. Or any other moment. Feelings are not logic.

  7. AngryJayne says:

    For people who enjoy being alone, winning would be a big, “Look what I accomplished in spite of everything!” kind of moment.
    For others who prefer to share milestones with other people, an accomplishment like that might shine a spotlight on what they feel is missing in their life.
    Nothing is wrong with either, as part of being a feminist I believe women should be allowed the same choices as their counterparts.
    For every Leonardo DiCaprio or Jennifer Coolidge – there can be a Nicole Kidman. It’s no big- I’m glad she realized what was going to make her happy and she found it.

    • Lilly (with the double-L) says:

      Yes! A few other stories from Karger’s book have been out and I will buy this book.

  8. Mcmmom says:

    I was not a huge fan of Nicole Kidman before her divorce – she seemed really cold to me. And then I watched the hell she went through and how she not only survived but thrived professionally and now I have so much respect for her (same with Katie Holmes – she didn’t register to me until she orchestrated the greatest escape in Hollywood history). Everything she says resonates with me – and while it’s tragic that she essentially lost her children and saved herself, that wasn’t even her choice. I suspect she would have completely sacrificed herself for her children, but Tom and Scientology made that decision for her.

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      A divorce is traumatizing enough without having to deal with a massive, powerful, and wealthy cult. Having your children indoctrinated against you? She really went through some things and must be a very strong person to come out sane and able to rebuild her life.

      I’ve got to get that Dave Karger book.

    • North of Boston says:

      A friend of mine, when she was in her 80s, told me about a time in her late 30s – her husband was awful to her, his family was awful to her, she had no independent support system… she hit her breaking point and decided to leave. She was sitting on the bus, downtown in the town she lived in, and saw her husband standing there, grinning, surrounded by their kids.

      She realized in that moment, she couldn’t leave her kids (she’d struggled with the choice before that, feeling like she literally wouldn’t survive if she stayed (particularly after a few near misses after little projects her husband was doing around the house ‘accidentally’ nearly killed her (electric shocks, trees he was taking down falling and missing where she was sitting by a couple of feet, him leaving early for work while the rest of the house was asleep after stoking the wood stove with wood to the brim … fortunately the family dog woke her and she was able to call the fire department to put the fire out just as the ceiling beams were smoking and starting to catch)))

      But in that moment she couldn’t leave her kids alone in that environment, so she got off the bus and stayed, for them. Guiding and protecting them the best she could until she could figure out a way out *with them*. Which she did, eventually after some really hellish years.

      But staying was an option for her, she was able to make that choice, and knew the cost to her for a chance at saving her kids (emotionally, physically, spiritually)… which she did. (They all endured some trauma from their father’s failings, but are okay)

      Staying wasn’t an option for Nicole.

      Once Tom and the CoS decided she was out, she was out. I think she would have done anything for those kids and still would. But Tom is an awful person with his own agenda who happens to be incredibly powerful, rich and backed by other evil manipulative people.

  9. mia girl says:

    “Moulin Rouge, The Others, The Hours, Cold Mountain, Dogville, all released within a three-year period”

    If an actor’s entire career was made up of only those films it would be considered a resounding success… it’s crazy that they only reflect three years in Kidman’s career. She’s really is an amazing actress.

    The Hours was such a great book, heartbreaking and poignant. I thought the film adaptation was great, so many excellent performances in that film and Kidman’s portrayal of Virginia Woolfe struggling in the last days of her life was outstanding (p.s. I didn’t mind the prosthetic nose).

    • AlpineWitch says:

      Yes, to all the above.

      To this day I cannot bring myself to watch The Others again, that’s how much it has stayed with me.
      I’ve never seen Dogville, unfortunately.

  10. P says:

    I felt the same way as Nicole (I want a partner!) one year on my birthday, and then I met him a few weeks later!

    I don’t think people need to be ashamed of wanting a partner. It’s not anti feminist to want love in your life. It’s human! And big moments when everyone’s paying attention to you even in a positive way can make you feel even sadder. I’m so glad her story has a happy ending. Not only does she have an amazing filmography, she has love and more children.

    Also Adrien Brody was SO cute!

    • Brassy Rebel says:

      “It’s not anti-feminist to want love in your life. It’s human!” Every word of this.

  11. Thea says:

    I remember that time and I marvel she even got through it with the full Tom and Scientology machine going after her. There were rumours that Tom and Scientology ran a negative PR campaign trying to smear Nicole as the reason for the divorce. The articles back then said that Nicole had gotten pregnant through an affair and they used the fact that Tom and her had adopted their other two kids due to fertility challenges as “evidence” that the child she miscarried couldn’t be his. That is such a shitty accusation to make because you could see how happy Nicole looked when she was with those kids. Meanwhile, she clearly channeled all of this tumultuous time into her work and managed to survive and thrive, and still hasn’t said anything bitter, resentful or negative about Tom and Scientology (probably due to NDAs and wanting to see her two kids before they cut her off). Much respect to her for how she handled all of this and found love again. Keith Urban isn’t my jam, but glad Nicole seems really happy with him and he seems to openly shower her with love and affection.

  12. Apples2 says:

    I don’t think I ever heard the words “it doesn’t feel humble” coming from Hollywood.

  13. Elle says:

    I dated Tom Cruise’s cousin in high school. Both of his parents are from Louisville, KY, where I live. I can’t recall exactly but I want to say they were second cousins? His mom was a first cousin, I think. Anyway, while we were dating, my boyfriend met Tom and Nicole for the first time. He said Tom was intense, a charmer for sure but intense, and that Nicole was stunning, extremely kind, and somewhat reserved.

    I am so happy for her that she got out, I am sorry she had to endure such a tough time though. It’s really great she is speaking about it though – it is incredibly challenging to have something great happen to you at a time when you are in distress. I hope her statements can help others that are suffering through life challenges as well.

  14. Bobbi says:

    Ehhh … She said she had family there with her. She wasn’t alone.
    I can see the desire for a partner and sadness over losing her kids, but she wasn’t really alone in this world. Some people don’t have extended family or extended family who would show up for them.

    • Thinking says:

      Now that I read her words carefully again, she said she went to bed alone, not that she was necessarily fully alone in an existential sense. I think she’s probably trying to emphasize that if she ever wins again, she’ll probably enjoy the night more and stay out till dawn partying the night away.

      The “firsts” of anything are probably not fully enjoyed the way most people think they would be. We probably figure out the second time around on something how we hope to have a good time.

  15. Myeh says:

    Someone give this woman a medal for enduring a decade of her husband and his abusive cult weirdos gaslighting and God knows doing what else to affect her negatively… And another medal for getting all those shitty people out of her hair and finding happiness and success again even while suffering the loss of her children.