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c. 1983

Introducing Nicole Kidman

"There's a girl called Nicole Kidman," wrote a British newspaper in 1983. "And she's rather good."

The 16-year-old girl with flaming red curls depicted here would one day be declared — by TIME magazine no less — to be one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and, by People, the “World’s Most Beautiful Person.”

Her name is Nicole Kidman, and the photoshoot below took place in December 1983 to promote her very first film, the Australian BMX Bandits. “There’s a girl called Nicole Kidman,” wrote the Guardian newspaper. “And she’s rather good.”

The film’s plot — bunch of kids on BMX bikes foil a dumb gang of crooks — was of lesser importance than its timing, designed as it was to cash in on the BMX bike wave. However, the production crew struggled in one critical respect: No passable stunt double for Kidman could be found. Instead, that position was filled by a wig-wearing 18-year-old guy.

The film was a reasonable box office success, particularly in Britain where it became the fifth highest grossing film of the year. And 1983  was a very strong movie year in general, with the release of Return of the Jedi and Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Dual threat

In the U.S., where the BMX fad was less virulent, the film was retitled Short Wave. Kidman could have watched it in the U.S. or Australia quite easily, as she has dual nationalities in Australia and the USA. The actress was brought up in Sydney (both her parents are Australian), but she was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, while her parents were there as students.

BMX bikes aside, it would be another six years before 1989’s Dead Calm when Kidman had her real cinematic breakthrough. Fast forward a year later and she could be seen starring opposite Tom Cruise in her first Hollywood movie, Days of Thunder, ushering in an entirely new era of her life. Certainly her curls were a thing of the past.

All photos courtesy of Getty Images

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