The Truth About Nicole Kidman And Tom Cruise's Relationship

The '90s were a simpler time. Long before Tom Cruise would destroy his rep by jumping on Oprah's couch, and decades prior to Nicole Kidman becoming the campy queen of several Twitter memes, they were the ultimate Hollywood power couple. The pair existed at a time before celebrity couple portmanteaus — Cruiseman just doesn't have the same ring to it as TomKat – and they arguably thrived at a time before social media oversharing. Though they weren't immune to some saucy bedroom confessions in the pre-smartphone age.

Despite Cruise's apparent agelessness — when he's not channeling Norm MacDonald, that is — his romance with Kidman ended over 20 years ago. During their 11-year marriage, the couple was frequently targeted by the press and had to dodge some pretty outlandish claims about their private life. Similarly, it was thanks to Stanley Kubrick that their love life was laid bare, quite literally, for the whole world to see in the nightmarish erotic thriller "Eyes Wide Shut." 

Since their breakup, there have been questions as to whether the divorce was simply the dissolution of a Hollywood dream, or if more ominous factors were at play. Indeed, the relationship's end has been shrouded in mystery, and it seems Kidman may very well have been sworn to secrecy herself. Whether there are some big little lies at hand or the answers are right there in the open, let's undertake the mission impossible of delving into the truth about Kidman and Cruise's relationship.

It was love at first jaw-drop

In 1989, Nicole Kidman was an up-and-coming 22-year-old who just scored her big break with the thriller "Dead Calm." Meanwhile, Tom Cruise was a 27-year-old seasoned A-lister, hot off the success of Oliver Stone's anti-war film "Born on the Fourth of July." Cruise saw Kidman in her breakthrough role and was intent on meeting her. Per Vanity Fair, the Aussie actor was in the midst of a press junket in Tokyo when she got a call from the superstar's team. She recalled, "I thought, Wow! This is America! Tom Cruise wants to meet me." She subsequently auditioned for a role alongside Cruise in "Days of Thunder."

Per the Los Angeles Times, Kidman never thought she'd get married, largely due to the influence of her ardent feminist mother. But when she set eyes on Cruise during her audition, she was smitten. "I remember being so nervous and seeing Tom Cruise drive up in a Porsche ... He got out of the car and walked through and I was like, 'Ah.' My jaw dropped," she told People of that fateful first encounter. 

Per CNN, Cruise fell head over heels for his co-star. The feeling was mutual. "He basically swept me off my feet," Kidman told Vanity Fair. "I fell madly, passionately in love." But there was a problem: Cruise was still married to his first wife, fellow actor Mimi Rogers. The couple divorced the following year and thus began a Hollywood romance for the ages.

The pressure of marriage was too much, too young

At the tender age of 23, Nicole Kidman tied the knot with Tom Cruise, then 28. Per Entertainment Weekly, they celebrated their nuptials in a cozy ceremony under the Colorado sun. By today's standards, 23 certainly appears rather young to settle down. It is, after all, the age that Zellenials perfect their TikTok lip syncing skills. On reflection, Kidman believes that she was far too youthful to devote herself to one person. 

"I was so young when I got married," she told Red (via Today). "I look back now and I'm like, 'What?'" She contrasted her 20-something self to the female celebs of today, who she suggested have more agency than women in the '90s. "You look at Taylor Swift ... She's 26. I had two kids by the time I was 27 and I'd been married four years." Speaking with GQ (via Daily Mail), Kidman elaborated on being thrust into fame and marriage when she was barely out of her teens, revealing, "I became famous very young ... because I was the wife of somebody."

But settling down at a young age wasn't all bad. Speaking with the BBC (via People) in 1998, Kidman acknowledged that she was lucky to have found such a profound and powerful love at such a young age. As she later told the Evening Standard, "I was a baby when I married Tom, but I don't regret any of it."

The twosome had a steamy relationship

Long before the advent of social media exhibitionism — where Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian's PDA can be borderline pornographic, as standard – Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were famed for their amorous marriage. Sure, their red carpet smooches look tame compared to today's thirst traps, but the couple's flagrant intimacy caused a stir back in the day. While celebrating the upcoming nuptials of their music exec pal Tommy Mottola in 2000, the lusty twosome couldn't keep their hands off one another. An onlooker dished to People, "They were dancing together and grinding up against each other ... It was very sexy."

Five years earlier, Cruise confessed that there was only one thing on his mind when he first set eyes on his Aussie bride-to-be. "My first reaction to meeting Nic was pure lust," he told Entertainment Weekly. "It was totally physical." Meanwhile, Kidman added that the pair's bedroom antics were very hot and totally off-limits to the public. Still, the it-couple were madly in love and wanted the entire world to know it. 

When Kidman opened up about marital sex to GQ in 2009 (via Tampa Bay Times), she made the admission, "I've explored strange sexual fetish stuff." Was she into kink with Cruise? Tampa Bay Times seemed to think so. The outlet speculated that she spoke differently about her current marriage to Keith Urban, making it seem like she was alluding to the man with a need for speed with the statement. 

Nicole helped Tom embrace his lighter side

By all accounts, Nicole Kidman appeared to be Tom Cruise's manic pixie dream girl. In a 1992 interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that he was pretty somber before he met his flame-haired love. However, Kidman was able to bring Cruise out of his shell and made him realize that there's more to life than work, work, work, as Rhianna would say. "For a long time, until I met Nicole, I always put my career ahead of everything ... It's like a whole new life opened up," he gushed. "She's the most important thing to me."

Speaking with Vanity Fair in 1996, Cruise expanded on the meaningful ways in which Kidman changed his life for the better. Reflecting on the first decade of his career, he admitted to living in fear of failure. "And then I met Nic, and it was like 'Oh, my God,'" he enthused. "You read about people whose whole life is just movies ... Your life feeds your work, not the opposite. It's not about me, me, me, me. It's about the other person."

Per Entertainment Weekly, the couple's favorite hobbies included skydiving and playing pool, which they did frequently when staying in London for an extended period. Subsequently, Kidman's previously skeptical friends began to warm to Cruise. While her pal Josh Duigan admitted to disliking him at first, he soon saw another side to Cruise once he realized how much fun the newlyweds had together.

They couldn't have biological children

When Nicole Kidman first met Tom Cruise, her initial desire was not to marry him, but to have his babies. In 2002, she conceded to Vanity Fair, "I was desperate to have a baby with him ... That's what I wish I'd done." Sadly, the couple struggled to conceive. Opening up to Marie Claire about one of the darkest periods in her life, Kidman revealed that she had an ectopic pregnancy at the start of the couple's marriage, followed by a miscarriage years later. "It was incredibly traumatic for me," she lamented.

Following their bereavement, the couple was met with more devastating news –  it was unlikely they would ever be able to have biological children. Kidman poignantly reflected to Tatler, "That yearning. It's a huge, aching yearning ... The loss of a miscarriage is not talked about enough. That's massive grief to certain women." Coming to terms with the painful reality, the couple decided to adopt two children, Isabella and Connor Cruise

In order to give their kids a healthy upbringing, the couple would alternate their work schedules. As Kidman revealed to the Los Angeles Times in 1995, she worked in London while her husband stayed at home to take care of the kids, which led to sexist jibes from the British press. Speaking with Vanity Fair the following year, Tom emphasized the importance of shielding his children from the Hollywood limelight.

They had to fend off tabloid rumors

Much like fellow Scientologist John Travolta, Tom Cruise has long faced rumors that he is secretly gay. These claims date back to the '90s when his marriage to Nicole Kidman was under intense tabloid scrutiny. Per the Los Angeles Times, there was gossip that the couple's PDA-packed romance was nothing more than a cover-up for Cruise's alleged sexuality and that the relationship was merely a marriage of convenience. 

Cruise was enraged by the tattle, telling Vanity Fair in 1996, "I feel very angry about it. I just try to remind Nicole ... 'You have me, you have the kids, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.'" Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Kidman dismissed the rumors that her husband was gay. "Look, Tom and I are heterosexual, we're together, we're in love," she stressed. "It's weird even to have to answer that question."

But towards the end of their marriage, the gossip was compounded by claims that Cruise had an extramarital affair with another man. As reported by ABC News, it was alleged that the star engaged in a steamy dalliance with Chad Slater, a male pornographic actor. The performer claimed that Kidman caught him and Cruise having sex, which directly led to her filing for divorce. Cruise slammed Slater's assertions as outright lies, insisting that he had never even met the adult star. As a result, he won a lawsuit against Slater for $10 million in 2003.

Scientology allegedly harmed their marriage

It's been alleged that Scientology was as instrumental in setting up Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's marriage as it was in orchestrating their divorce. In his explosive Scientology exposé, "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" (via New York Post), Lawrence Wright alleged that Scientology leader David Miscavige had facilitated Cruise's break up with his first wife Mimi Rogers so the actor could wed Kidman, with whom he had fallen in love. Though Rogers was also a Scientologist, she was apparently expendable. Cruise was prioritized as the future of the controversial church, and so was his desires.

Getting Kidman on board with the Church's doctrine was no easy feat. Miscavige was perturbed by her Catholicism and deemed her to be trouble. Indeed, a source suggested to People that Kidman wasn't keen on converting to Scientology. The church, who famously opposes psychiatric treatments, also allegedly didn't look kindly upon the profession of Kidman's father, a respected psychologist. Regardless of Kidman's reservations, Isabella and Connor were raised as Scientologists and they remained with the organization long after their mom's divorce from Cruise, per Vanity Fair

According to the HBO documentary "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief(via The Daily Beast) the Church allegedly used aggressive intimidation tactics to tear apart the Hollywood sweethearts. Both actors reportedly refused to be interviewed for the film, and neither responded to the claims.

Was Nicole Kidman royally jealous of Lady Di?

Being the celeb power couple of the '90s, Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were friendly with another sweetheart of the era: Princess Diana. Per People, the couple were greeted by the royal at the 1992 premiere of "Far and Away" where Maverick and the People's Princess could be seen sharing a charming rapport as they chatted on the red carpet. If royal insiders are to be believed, Diana was crushing on Cruise.

According to Di's stylist, who shared her anecdotes in Judy Wade's book, "Diana: The Intimate Portrait" (via Micky), she began flirting with Cruise at the premiere. Kidman was reportedly jealous of her husband's chemistry with the Princess of Wales and made her feelings clear to her. Wade wrote, "She [Nicole] kept shooting ... hostile looks as if to say, 'Hands off my man!" However, it appears that she needn't have worried since Cruise wasn't Di's type. Per Express, the royal apparently joked to her personal chef, Darren McGrady, that she would never date Cruise as he was too short for her.

When Diana Spencer was killed in a horrific car accident in France, Cruise told CNN that he was outraged by the media's avarice when it came to the prematurely departed princess. He added about her death, "We're just devastated." Cruise and Kidman joined A-list mourners at her funeral in 1997.

Stanley Kubrick pushed their marriage to the edge

Having met while making "Days of Thunder," Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman played on-screen lovers yet again in the 1992 romance "Far and Away" — notable for featuring some of the worst affected Irish accents in cinematic history. Kidman regrets having worked with her husband on the film, believing that it led to her being pigeonholed as Mrs. Tom Cruise. "I probably should have done more by myself to be seen independently," she told Entertainment Weekly.

However, it was the power couple's third and final on-screen pairing that truly sent the media into a frenzy. Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut" was renowned for its erotic reverie. A short, steamy promo featuring the couple passionately kissing while watching each other in a mirror understandably caused a stir upon release. The film's shoot, which was supposed to last 3 months but ended up taking 2 years, provided an uncomfortable lens into the couple's marriage. 

Speaking about the lines between reality and fiction becoming blurred for the movie, Kidman told The Hollywood Reporter, "[Kubrick] used the movie as provocation, pretending it was our sex life — which we weren't oblivious to, but obviously it wasn't us." Per Vanity Fair, the couple even won a libel suit against Star magazine for writing that they'd hired a sex therapist for their intimate scenes. Tensions were further heightened when Kubrick encouraged the pair to use their marital woes for the film, something which Kidman described as thrilling but dangerous.

Nicole was protected by Tom's power

The wisdom of Nicole Kidman's feminist mother had clearly rubbed off on the star. As noted by The New York Times, with her production company the actor devotes herself to uplifting other women in the business. Although she now has the power and authority within the notoriously sexist industry to speak her truth, it wasn't always so easy. As an up-and-coming Hollywood starlet, Kidman often found herself voiceless. Being the wife of a hugely influential man, however, she was protected from the more nefarious aspects of the industry.

Speaking to The Cut, she explained that the power Cruise wielded in Tinseltown protected her from predators. "I married for love, but being married to an extremely powerful man kept me from being sexually harassed," she noted.

But the problematic nature of this unspoken Hollywood contract — that Kidman was only spared sexual harassment thanks to the man in her life — came at a price. Speaking with Glamour, she confessed that the marriage often left her reduced to the appendage of a powerful man as opposed to a human being in her own right. "I felt I became a star only by association ... I thought, I don't deserve to be here," she admitted. Accordingly, she began to reluctantly subscribe to the notion that she was merely a trophy wife. "I felt it was my job to put on a beautiful dress and be seen and not heard," she added.

Did Tom Cruise cheat on Nicole Kidman?

The new millennium would spell the beginning of the end of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's marriage. In 2000, Cruise began filming "Vanilla Sky" with Penelope Cruz, and soon after he was seen getting cozy with his enigmatic co-star. However, some thought the timeline of the hook-up seemed sus. Per Entertainment Weekly, he didn't divorce Kidman until 2001, despite having spent the entirety of the "Vanilla Sky" shoot with Cruz. There were rumors that the duo had begun a tryst on set.

When Kidman heard of the alleged affair, she was reportedly devastated. "Nicole was just totally in shock," an insider told People (via ABC News). "She said, 'He flat-out swore to me up and down that there was nothing going on ... 'All this time she's been wondering why the marriage ended, and this could be it." The new couple made it red carpet official just a week after Cruise and Kidman had announced their divorce. 

Still, Cruz has repeatedly maintained that the pair never had an affair. Speaking with The Telegraph in 2008, the Spanish star insisted that she waited until her former boyfriend was divorced before catching feelings. "I've never fallen in love with someone I'm working with," she stated. "It's always been afterwards." Meanwhile, Cruise vehemently denied an affair when speaking to CNN, but admitted that he was incredibly attracted to Cruz during filming.

Nicole Kidman's life fell apart when they broke up

When the couple split in 2001, Entertainment Weekly reported on the various rumors circulating as to why Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman broke up. Some speculated that it was Kidman's refusal to convert to Scientology that tore them apart, while others suggested that the Aussie star wanted to raise the couple's kids in her homeland.

The divorce took its toll on Kidman. "My life collapsed," Kidman told Vanity Fair. "People ran from me because suddenly it was 'Oh, my God! It's over for her now!'" Meanwhile, Cruise hinted at an acrimonious end in his own Vanity Fair interview. "Things happen in life, and you do everything you can, and in every possible way, and there's a point at which you just sometimes have to face the brutal reality," he conceded. Ouch.

Reflecting on the divorce to Glamour, Kidman admitted that the split was particularly painful because it triggered memories of her childhood trauma. When Kidman was growing up, her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother's unraveling due to the disease led to the whole family's unraveling. As Kidman put it, "If you take care of the woman in the family, the whole family prospers. But when the mother falters, the family falls apart." Thereafter, she opted to stay single for six years to rediscover herself. Speaking with Marie Claire, she admitted to being so devastated that she thought she would never find love again.

They still loved each other

As painful as the divorce was, Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise had nothing but praise for each other in the immediate aftermath. Speaking with CNN, Cruise dodged any negative press regarding the split, refusing to address Larry King's suggestion that Hollywood hadn't seen such a highly publicized separation since the days of Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. Instead, Cruise lavished praise on his former wife. "I love Nicole. I've always loved her ... That doesn't go away. It will never go away," he explained.

Kidman appeared to feel the same way. In an interview with Ladies' Home Journal (via Today), she said that while the divorce was a huge shock, she had nothing but love for her former husband. "To me, he was just Tom, but to everybody else, he is huge," she reflected. "But he was lovely to me and I loved him. I still love him."

However, it didn't take long for things to get shady. Kidman famously quipped to David Letterman (per Evening Standard) that she was happy she could wear heels again after splitting from her petite husband. Then came the bitter custody battle over Isabella and Connor. Although the exes were awarded shared custody, the reality was much different. "They live with Tom, which was their choice," she confessed to Hello (via E!) in 2010. "I'd love them to live with us, but what can you do?" The former power couple was officially done. 

The bitter aftermath

As the years went by, things slowly grew more acrimonious for Hollywood's beloved former it-couple. In 2022, Variety reported that Nicole Kidman was completely omitted from a montage of Tom Cruise's body of work at Cannes, despite the tribute featuring scenes from all three of the flicks the couple starred in. A year earlier, Harper's Bazaar noted that Kidman wouldn't discuss her divorce from Cruise during interviews.

Meanwhile, Kidman had a furious response when The Guardian brought up the topic during an interview promoting "Being the Ricardos." When the outlet suggested that Lucille Ball's troubled relationship with Desi Arnaz may be comparable to her own failed marriage, Kidman snapped. "Oh, my God, no ... And I would ask not to be pigeonholed that way, either," she retorted. "It feels to me almost sexist because I'm not sure anyone would say that to a man. And at some point, you go, 'Give me my life. In its own right.'"

According to insiders, Kidman has a right to feel bitter. The Daily Mail reported allegations that Cruise was instrumental in driving a wedge between his ex-wife and the children they adopted. Ex-Scientologist Sam Domingo claimed that Scientology agents brainwashed Isabella and Connor against their mom. In 2015, Kidman was reportedly snubbed from Isabella's wedding. However, they were rumored to have reconciled in 2020. Meanwhile, Connor has maintained that he has a great relationship with his mom.