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May 07 2019

Top 10: Nicole Kidman Vanity Fair Covers

by Mark Brinkerhoff

Australian Gold Rush.La Femme Nicole.Thoroughbred.The Lioness.Beguiling.Intoxicating.Spellbinding.Legend.Star.

Since first appearing in the pages of Vanity Fair as a newly-arrived,23-year-old,soon-to-be breakout Hollywood star (circa July 1990,pictured above),Kidman has become one of the magazine's favorite cover girls.In fact,the June 2019 issue marks the 10th time Kidman has graced the cover—seven solo and three as part of an ensemble (i.e.the annual Hollywood Issue)—not to mention assortedV.F.Hollywood portfoliosover the years.

To commemorate Kidman's milestone,let's count down to the finest of our Vanity Fairest — a Tuesday Top 10...

10.Then newly (and lamentably) bottled blonde and heavily,heavilyspray-tanned,a post-Cruise,pre-Oscared Kidman was perhaps peak-movie star by her fourthcover.Photographed by Mario Testino for the December 2002 issue.

09.A regrettable Grace Kellymanqué,Kidman graced her eighth cover,appearing washed out and as wan as the film she was promoting the D.O.A.Grace of Monaco.Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the December 2013 issue.

08.Imperfect 10.Though oddly wet-haired (?) and puffy-looking,Kidman is nevertheless,now and forever,a bonafide acting legend.Photographed,already quitepolarizingly,by Collier Schorr for the May 2019 issue.

07.Sex on a stick-thin star.A va-va-voom Kidman sailed onto her sixth cover,this time promotingMargot at the Wedding,a year after wedding Keith Urban.Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the October 2007 issue.

06.Boosted byBig Little Lies(andLion),Kidman got plum placement with co-star Reese Witherspoon,both sitting around Oprah like she's Santa.Photographed by Annie Leibovitz for 2018's Hollywood Issue.

05.Famously flame-haired and coolly,creamily complected,the towering Aussie was on the cusp ofcommercial (Batman Returns) andcritical (To Die For)success.Photographed by Herb Ritts for the July 1995 issue.

04.Bewitching,channelingGrace Kelly beautifully years before the ignominiousGrace of Monaco.Photographed by Patrick Demarchelier for the July 2005 issue.

03.Regal and red-headed,just the way God intended (and we prefer it).Photographed by Annie Leibovitz for the October 1997 issue.

02.From zeitgeist starlet to (perhaps premature) legend,all in the span of six years!Kidman flanked two bonafide legends,Les Deneuve et Streep,for the grandest of allHollywood Issues,in April 2001.Photographed by Annie Leibovitz.

01.Instantly iconic alongside fellow Amazonian,Uma Thurman,and a crouching Jennifer (nearly hidden) Jason Leigh,Kidman got top tier on the front fold of V.F.'svery firstHollywood Issue,in April 1995.Photographed by (you guessed it) Annie Leibovitz.

Would your ranking be similar?

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Reader Comments (28)

No.5 is my favorite.Gorgeous!

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterCash

4 and 9 are my favorites.2 is fabulous but I don't think of it as her cover.

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Cash -- mine too.give or take #2 or #3.I remember that #5 cover so well and the article being insane and I thought "this woman is crazy and is going to regret this interview!"(this was back before I loved her and she was really hard-selling the romance with Tom Cruise "Tom is my drug"and the like...

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R


May 7,2019 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

Paltrow's not a legend.Hollywood did its best to make her a thing.But the public knew better.

May 7,2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

#4 or #2 are the ones for me.We have been blessed

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterXavier

@3rtful,there was a fair bit of wishful thinking with that spread (Paltrow?Sevigny?!),but also some prescience as Blanchett,Kidman *and* Winslet (and even Cruz) have made good on the early promise/promotion.Who knew!

@Nat,to be fair,it was a little crazy and,after Cruise (purportedly) unceremoniously kicked her to the curb,she very well may have regretted it!

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

The legends cover with Streep et al is the best.That image is classic.The others are just not that interesting.

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterFaye

Nos.3 and 4 for me.They present very different sides of captivating and dynamic actress who also happens to be really beautiful.

I've never been a fan of Vanity Fair's "let's round up a bunch of celebs and pretend we photographed them at the same time and place"covers.The No.1 pick strikes me as particularly hokey and mildly exploitative.Nicole's come hither stare is awkwardly staged but at least she fared better than Sarah Jessica Parker.

May 7,2019 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

#5 Is my favorite Kidman photography just because shows her natural beauty before the surgery.I just dont like how her face change after that.

But i love #1 cover.The colors,concept and poses are very 90s when being in underwear it did not look vulgar.I love images with their own language.

Someone could tell me who are the rest?I just recognize Sarah Jessica Parker,Sandra Bullock and...Gwyneth Paltrow?

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterCésar Gaytán

@WJ,I think we're all sort of inoculated from the group format,but you have to consider that,25 years ago,that was groundbreaking imagery.10 actresses all together,at one time?Just read the V.F.oral history of this very spread to reckon with what may appear to be awkwardly staged and retrograde today.It's part of the reason this has become so iconic (and,given that it's now an annual tradition,enduring).

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

These are great,but I think she really shines on the cover of Vogue.They basically just go full on model with her there,and the images are usually insanely beautiful.

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterVal

♫ ...Show me Heaven,cover me
Leave me breathless...♫

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterFeline Justice

10 Vanity Fair covers and 8 Vogue covers.I know she (still) holds the record for most Vogue covers and I'm betting she's up there with Vanity Fair as well.And over a span of almost 25 years!We stan everlasting legends!!!

I remember owning and cherishing the 2001 Legends issue until it literally fell apart.It meant a lot to me.#3 is also iconic and striking.

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMaison

love this list!although IDK what's going on with sandra bullock's foot in the last one...that looks painful.

May 8,2019 | Unregistered Commentersek

Number five is my absolute favorite.It captures the kinetic energy,romance and iconoclasm of those great Australian films: Priscilla,Strictly,Muriel,with shades of Jane Campion and even Kylie.The baby blue backdrop adds a touch of camp.Also,curls!

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterH

#1 is rather awkward,but you have to give VF credit...aside from maybe Linda Fiorentino,every one of those actresses made a major impact in the years going forward.They chose well.

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

#2 because La Blanchett is there as well

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterManuel

@Mareko Would you have a link to that VF story?

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMarek

@Suzanne,yeah,I used to think that Arquette was the glaring also-ran,but every one of these actresses (aside from Fiorentino and SJP,whose legend is assured otherwise) is an Oscar nominee or,in the case of fully half of them,an Oscar winner.That's an amazing batting average.

(You could argue,of course,that Fiorentino ought to have one for The Last Seduction,Thurman for Kill Bill,etc.etc.,but we don't need to re-litigate AMPAS' foibles yet again.)

May 8,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

@3rtful & @Mareko

I'm not some Paltrow Stan or anything,and I 100% agree she is no legend.But I can understand the wishful thinking in Hollywood that she might reach that status if they pushed her hard enough.She's got an appealing "old money"prettiness that reads as "classy"(ie January Jones,Joanne Woodward or Grace Kelly).She's a very capable actress.Not a generational talent like Kidman or Blanchett,but solid enough to market in prestige films.

But yeah,she faded pretty fast from the top tier of prestige actresses.

May 8,2019 | Unregistered Commenterslim

I really wish I could warm up to Kidman...I.have tried for years.

I have enjoyed her in just a handful of movies.Just read the article in Vanity Fair.Makes her

sound like a human one can put forth what the article suggests.IMO

May 8,2019 | Unregistered Commenterrdf

Paltrow is one of the few Best Actress winners to only have the one nomination for acting.She could never perennial.

May 9,2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

fuck you @fdr

May 9,2019 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

#2 is number one for me.I need more Vanessa Redgrave in my life.

May 9,2019 | Unregistered CommenterLol

Not to be an annoying fact-checker,but she plays Dr.Chase Meridian in Batman Forever,not Batman Returns.The only blond bombshell there is the Pfeiffer.I'm not entirely certain celluloid would have stood a chance with both of them alongside each other.

May 9,2019 | Unregistered CommenterManny

@Manny,eek!You're so right.Maybe it was wishful revisionist history on my part as everything after Batman Returns is more or less a nightmare for me.;-)

May 9,2019 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

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