Nicole Kidman is one of the most powerful women in Hollywood today, but had her earlier years in entertainment been different, that might not be the case. In a new essay for the Women and Power issue of New York magazine, Kidman opens up about her marriage to Tom Cruise — something she rarely talks about — and admits that being with him for more than a decade kept her safe from the kinds of sexual harassment that blacklisted many of her less-protected peers.
Kidman doesn’t shy away from this fact in her essay. “Being married to Tom Cruise at 22 is something I’m always reluctant to talk about, because I’m married now to the man who is my great love [Keith Urban], and it almost feels disrespectful,” Kidman writes for New York magazine. “That said, I got married very young, but it definitely wasn’t power for me — it was protection.”
“I married for love,” she continued, “but being married to an extremely powerful man kept me from being sexually harassed. I would work, but I was still very much cocooned. So when I came out of it at 32, 33, it’s almost like I had to grow up.”
Kidman and Cruise divorced in 2011, 11 years after they tied the knot. Kidman doesn’t go into detail about specific instances when being married to Cruise provided the protection she alludes to, but this is fairly in line with Kidman’s behavior overall about this topic. As Entertainment Tonight notes, Kidman comments in her essay that she has definitely experienced her own #MeToo moments since, though she would rather cope by channeling those experiences into her work than exposing them in detail for the public.
“I’m open and raw. I want to have my well of experience and emotion tapped into — used, and I’m not just talking about sexual harassment,” she wrote. “I’m talking about loss, death, the full array of life. But it has to be by the right people so it’s not abused again.”
As a vocal member of Time’s Up, Kidman has been outspoken about how important it is for women to tell their own stories — and for the conversation around domestic violence and sexual assault to change. As a coproducer and star on the HBO series Big Little Lies, she tackles these topics directly in her work; she also tackles them as a goodwill ambassador for U.N. Women and a staunch feminist who works for women’s rights behind the scenes.
Kidman choosing to make these comments at this particular moment in time, when sexual assault is a hot topic not just in Hollywood, but also in politics, education and more, is huge. Kidman has such a large platform on which to speak and the fact that she is choosing to use that platform in order to be candid about her own experiences in Hollywood as well as how those experiences were colored by her relationship to a powerful man just might push the conversation another step forward. In this fight for safety and equality, every step counts.