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November 11, 2007

Nicole Kidman Tells It Like It Is

nicole kidman in red

Photo Credit: James White

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Nicole Kidman realized many years ago that being nearsighted was a blessing in disguise. Insulated by faulty vision, she was able to shut out gawking strangers and paparazzi. "I never wore glasses except when I had to read a teleprompter at an awards show or drive, so I didn't notice much," she says. "I could exist in my head. It was kind of my escape from the world and my protection."

But today, sitting in the elegantly restored Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, she looks around and marvels at how her perspective, and sight lines, have changed since having LASIK surgery two weeks earlier. "I had a bit of anxiety-it's terrifying," Kidman says. But her husband, Keith Urban, held her hand throughout. She has been delighted by the result. "I was walking around legally blind. Now I have 20-20 vision. I can't believe I spent so many years blurry, but I think that coincides with how I was feeling. Now I notice if people are watching me, but I also smile right back if someone waves, which helps."

Small wonder that Kidman wants to see life clearly now, given what a long, strange year she's just had. First came her joyous church wedding to country-western singer and fellow Aussie Urban, followed several months later by his startling decision to spend three months in intensive treatment for alcohol abuse at the Betty Ford Center. "They say the first year of marriage is the hardest. Please, God," she says, rolling her eyes, and then adds, "He's the most important person in my life, and he says I am for him, and that's where we're at. We won't go more than 12 days apart, ever. The time he went away to rehab was the longest time."

Casually dressed in jeans, a blue knit Alexander McQueen shirt, clunky black shoes, antique diamond rings, and minimal makeup, her tousled hair pulled back, Kidman exudes a smaller-than-life, self-deprecating persona offscreen. She seems fragile-still wounded by the events of recent years (including her 2001 divorce from Tom Cruise) but also hopeful about the future. "People might think that Nic's had it easy, but that's not the case," says her aunt, Margaret Mary Williams, a drug and alcohol counselor. "It doesn't matter how famous you are or what you do, your heart hurts as much as anyone else's heart. Nobody else can do the pain for you, nobody else can grow through something except you. Nic has been able to cope."

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