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AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicole Kidman


The stars come out to honour Nicole Kidman as she accepts the 2024 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Film Institute

Nicole Kidman is one of the younger recipients of the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award, but the honour still represents a lot of experience.

The Australian-American actress and producer received the AFI’s 49th of that accolade in a Hollywood ceremony staged in April, and Turner Classic Movies now televises the event this Thursday, in the second consecutive evening of a two-night TCM tribute to Oscar winner Kidman.

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicole Kidman on TCM. Pictured: Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep, who portrayed her character’s mother-in-law in Big Little Lies.
Jay L. Clendenin Shutterstock for AFI

Not surprisingly, the event’s guest list included Keith Urban, Kidman’s country music superstar husband. Among others present were Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Naomi Watts, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mike Myers, Miles Teller, Edward James Olmos, Jane Seymour and writer-producers Aaron Sorkin, David E. Kelley and Ava DuVernay.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, Kidman began her career in her teens in Australia with such efforts as 1983 projects Bush Christmas and BMX Bandits. She took a big leap forward with her globally praised performance in the 1989 seafaring thriller Dead Calm, then quickly progressed to big-budget American films such as Days of Thunder and Far and Away — both made with the actor who became Kidman’s first husband, Tom Cruise.

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicole Kidman on TCM. Pictured: Reese Witherspoon.
Jay L. Clendenin Shutterstock for AFI

Whether in feature films or cable and streaming ventures, Kidman hasn’t slowed down since. The diversity of her projects reflects her range as a performer, and the titles that TCM is showing to salute her indicate that variety. They begin on Wednesday with Moulin Rouge! (2001), director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann’s musical casting Kidman as French cabaret star Satine, who becomes the muse of a morose writer (Ewan McGregor).

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicole Kidman on TCM. Pictured: Miles Teller and wife Keleigh Sperry.
Michael Kovac Getty Images for AFI

Next comes The Others (2001), the thriller written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar, about a woman whose young children have an extreme sensitivity to light . . . exacerbating the strange phenomena that develop after several new servants with a shared past arrive to tend to the family. Following that is To Die For (1995), director Gus Van Sant’s dark comedy that did much to advance Kidman’s reputation with critics via her portrayal of a TV weathercaster who asks a young admirer (Joaquin Phoenix) to eliminate her husband (Matt Dillon).

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicole Kidman on TCM. Pictured: Nicole Kidman and Moulin Rouge! co-star Ewan McGregor.

TCM resumes the Kidman festival the next night with two showings of the AFI special that honours her, and presented in between those will be The Hours (2002), director Stephen Daldry and screenwriter David Hare’s version of Michael Cunningham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Kidman won an Academy Award for portraying writer Virginia Woolf in one of the three stories of women who comprise the saga, with Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore playing the other central characters in other times and places.

Not only will TCM show Kidman receiving her AFI Life Achievement Award, it will also exhibit several prime reasons she’s the recipient of it. And with several more projects in various stages of production, including a series that will cast her as novelist Patricia Cornwell’s forensic sleuth, Kay Scarpetta, she is hardly done yet.

In her remarks, Kidman paid tribute to several filmmakers who are no longer with us, but who impacted her career in significant ways, including Jean Marc Vallee, Sydney Pollack, Anthony Minghella, Stanley Kubrick, Joel Schumacher, Tony Scott and Nora Ephron.

“There are a few who have left us and they need to be mentioned, too, because one day you look around, they’re there, and then they’re not there,” Kidman said. “May they live on in beauty and spirit, and in all of our imaginations forever.”

AFI Lifetime Achievement Award: Nicole Kidman airs Thursday, June 27, on TCM

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