Nicole Kidman 'makes movies better': Is she our most successful actress? (2024)

Morgan Freeman spoke the words, but most Hollywood stars who took to the stage at the AFI lifetime achievement awards agreed "Nicole Kidman makes movies better".

The line came in a video parody of Kidman's AMC Theatres “we make movies better” advertisem*nt that opened the Saturday night ceremony at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

The Australian actor has been celebrated for her 40-year career in movies by the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Kidman became the eleventh woman and only Australian to be given what is dubbed as the highest honour in US cinema.

She was born in Hawaii to Australian parents and grew up in Sydney.

"I am just so honoured to be on this list with the greats and to be able to represent my country," she told reporters on the red carpet.

"I was born in Hawaii, I've worked all over the world but I'm an Aussie girl and I'm standing here in Hollywood going 'oh my God this has actually happened'".

Nicole Kidman 'makes movies better': Is she our most successful actress? (1)

Kidman was joined by her husband, singer Keith Urban, and their daughters who walked the red carpet for the first time.

She was also joined by sister Antonia Kidman, her husband and their six children.

Meryl Streep, former winner of the award, and her co-star in The Hours and Big Little Lies, presented Kidman with the award.

Nicole Kidman 'makes movies better': Is she our most successful actress? (2)

Streep drew tears from Kidman when describing what she believed motivated her.

“People call it bravery when an actress bares all and leaps off into the unknown and she dives deep into the darker parts of what it is to be a human being,” Streep said.

“But I don’t think it’s bravery. I think it’s love. I think she just loves it.”

Australia's most successful actor?

With one Oscar win and several nominations as well as numerous other accolades, Kidman has to be one of Australia's most successful exports to Hollywood.

In 2006, she was Hollywood's highest paid actor, said to have earned about $17 million per movie at the time.

Co-chair of the Australian Film Critics Association Nadine Whitney said her long and varied career is due to her hard work and generous spirit.

"Nicole has been working since she was a young teen and shehasn't slowed down, she is very much a self-made star," she said.

"Like Lillian Gish and Elizabeth Taylor (also award recipients) her careerspans decades."

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Speaking before entering the ceremony, Kidman said the award is a pay off for some of the risks she took in her career.

"I've made so many risky films to the point where people go, 'you're actually going to do that movie?' and I'm like 'yeah I am,'" she said.

"I think it's the kid in me but it's also just the kid that went to drama school and we did everything there.

"We weren't confined to 'oh my gosh you're the wrong age for that, or oh my gosh, that's a really weird play' you just did every role and it's such a good way to approach a career."

Kidman has worked as an actor since she was 14.

Her breakthrough Hollywood role was in the movie Dead Calm in 1989.

"People remember her from all eras of her career and there is a Nicole for everyone," Ms Whitney said.

Ms Whitney said she's also a trailblazer for other Aussie stars in her generation and those after.

"It was Nicole who brought her best friend Naomi Watts to the attention of Hollywood.

"If Nicole is attached to something ithappens."

Looking forward to the next generation of Australian actresses taking Hollywood by storm, it's hard to look past stars like Margot Robbie who Kidman may have had a part in paving the way for.

The pair starred in the movie Bombshell in 2019 and Robbie told media she was starstruck working with Kidman at the time.

Nicole Kidman 'makes movies better': Is she our most successful actress? (3)

Ms Whitney said she's not surprised Kidman is the first Australian to win the Lifetime Achievement award

"Just breaking down thestats on who has won the award means you can notice that firstly it skews towards men," she said.

"Only eleven women have won the award. Of those eleven women only three have been from outside of America. Julie Andrews, Elizabeth Taylor, and now Nicole."

"I am in no way suggesting that anyone with an award doesn't deserve it.

"Just that the industry moves slowly."

But she said, there are other strong contenders.

"The standard for theaward is Enrichment of American Culture', I would argue that Peter Weir is most certainly a candidate at some point," she said.

"I hope one day will see career awards one day for Cate Blanchett too."

Fellow Aussies Cate Blanchett, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman all gave video tributes to the first from their country to win the award.

She's also celebrated as an icon in more ways than film with the AFI recognising her work as a producer and in roles on television and the stage.

She is also known for her glamour on red carpets since the nineties.

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It was announced back in November of 2022 that Kidman would receive the award, first handed out in 1973, whose previous winners include Orson Welles, Bette Davis, Alfred Hitchco*ck, Gene Kelly, Sidney Poitier, Barbara Streisand, Tom Hanks, Robert De Niro, Denzel Washington and Julie Andrews.

The ceremony originally was scheduled for June of 2023, but delayed because of Hollywood's strikes.

ABC/Wires

Nicole Kidman 'makes movies better': Is she our most successful actress? (2024)
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