Nicole Kidman given life achievement award by American Film Institute

Nicole Kidman given life achievement award by American Film Institute

Nicole Kidman has been honoured with an American Film Institute life achievement award at a ceremony in which stars shared stories of “quite simply one of the greatest actresses”.

The Oscar-winner became the first Australian actor to receive the highest honour for a career in film at AFI, during a ceremony which featured speeches from Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Reese Witherspoon, and her husband, Keith Urban.

The Gala Tribute at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles also included appearances from former co-stars including Miles Teller from Rabbit Hole, The Paperboy’s Zac Efron, Zoe Saldana from Special Ops: Lioness, and Joey King from upcoming film A Family Affair.

The ceremony opened with a video of Freeman in a parody of Kidman’s AMC Theatres advert, before he took to the stage telling the audience that the 2001 film Moulin Rouge, starring Kidman and Ewan McGregor, was “one of my favourite films of all time”.

Streep, who co-starred in The Hours which won Kidman an Oscar in 2003, presented the award.

She joked “the very hardest part of being incessantly called the greatest actress of our generation” is working with really great actresses such as Kidman – “that’s difficult”.

“The range of your work is stunning, your list of credits and roles and good deeds in the world would take a normal person three lifetimes to achieve,” she said.

“Your life and your resume challenge everything we know about how many hours there are in the day and how many places a woman can be in one time.

“It’s hard not to envy Nicole, but it is also impossible not to be in awe of her.”

Streep also said she was “floored” by Kidman’s performance on the first day of shooting the TV series Big Little Lies.

“That’s the time I came within breathing distance of the formidable gifts Nicole has, and her process, and her seismic bank of emotions that she’s got locked up within her, and her stamina and her drive to be an artist and her discipline.

“I haven’t recovered from that first day, I have never seen anything like that in my life.”

Collecting her award, Kidman said Streep has been her “guiding light” during her career, adding: “It has always been you, and no one can touch you.”

Kidman praised all the directors she has worked with, including The Hours director Stephen Daldry who was “by my side during the most vulnerable, difficult time of my life – you held my hand, you got me through it and you won me an Oscar”.

During the ceremony, British actress Naomi Watts spoke of meeting Kidman aged 15 at an audition for a swimsuit advert, before Kidman offered to pay her taxi fare home, beginning their “decades long” friendship.

“Nic has always been the most generous person – she has opened up her homes to me, she has made me feel like a part of her family, she was like the sister I never had,” Watts said.

“She’s incredibly supportive of other women, for 10 years when I lived very much under the radar, she repeated to me, one thing Nad, one thing will change everything, I swear just hang in there. And she was right. And yes, she saved me. So many times.”

Among those who made virtual appearances was Russell Crowe, who described Kidman as “quite simply one of the greatest actresses who have ever worked in this business”.

Kidman was due to be presented with the award on 10 June last year, but the ceremony was postponed indefinitely due to the writers’ strike, which was resolved in September after 146 days on the picket line.

She has been nominated for five Academy Awards and has won a Bafta, two Emmys, and six Golden Globe awards.