Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes went through an unspeakable event, but only one of them was villainised.

There's an interesting duality that comes with living life in the public eye. 

On one hand, if you're a successful Hollywood actor you'll have financial security. On the other, this life comes with scrutiny, prying eyes, loss of privacy and the public having access to information about your personal relationships.

There's always been an intense interest in how the breakups and divorces of celebrities play out. Tom Cruise is one celebrity who has always garnered quite a bit of attention and in recent decades that focus has shifted from his professional work as an actor to his personal life and divorces.

Namely to two women who are famous in their own right, Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes.

Thanks to their respective marriages and divorces to Tom Cruise, the way the post-divorce narratives around these two famous women have played out in the public eye have been vastly different. 

Holmes has been praised for 'escaping' a situation in order to protect her daughter and Kidman has sometimes been condemned for 'abandoning' her two eldest children.

But if we look deeper at these two women and what they did in order to walk away from a marriage (and institution) that wasn't serving them, they deserve the same amount of grace and empathy. 

How Katie Holmes left Tom Cruise.

When Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise first began dating in 2005 the world instantly became caught up in the vortex of their love. After a whirlwind courtship, an engagement came quickly towards the end of 2005 and their daughter Suri was born in April 2006.

Holmes proclaimed how excited she was to convert to Cruise's controversial religion Scientology and by November 2006 they were married after dating for just over a year. As they said their vows to each other the leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, stood by Cruise's side as his best man. His connections to this religion ran deep — but perhaps naively Holmes didn't know just how intertwined her new marriage would become with Scientology.


It didn't take long for rumours to start swirling that Cruise's religious ties were impacting both Holmes and her career.

It has been implied that he would steer her away from any acting projects that didn't align with Scientology's core value beliefs and before long the promising career she once had was fading away into the background.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise in 2012, shortly before their divorce. Image: Getty.


Then in 2012 Holmes broke free. 

In a series of secretive moves, it has been alleged that Holmes devised a plan with her father Martin to finally remove herself from her marriage, and take her daughter with her. 

What Holmes saw and heard during her time in the Church of Scientology may never fully come to light, but at the time the public sentiment was that she had pulled off a deft escape.

"This is a personal and private matter for Katie and her family," said Holmes' representative in 2012 in the wake of the divorce announcement. "Katie’s primary concern remains, as it always has been, her daughter’s best interest."

Then, like the speed of lightning, a divorce settlement was agreed upon in the courts and Holmes gained full custody of her daughter, Suri. 

It has often been rumoured that the stipulations of the custody agreement meant that Holmes was gagged from talking about Scientology and Cruise in order to fully remove Suri from her father's care. 

Suri Crusie is now 18 years old and recently attended her senior prom and high school graduation. Tom Crusie was not present at either event, at least t from what the public could see. 

Nicole Kidman's divorce from Tom Cruise. 

Just over a decade earlier, in 2001 Cruise filed for divorce from Kidman citing "irreconcilable differences." After 11 years of marriage and sharing two children, Isabella and Connor, one of Hollywood's most enduring golden couples had come to an end.


The circumstances surrounding what ultimately led to their divorce remain a mystery, but Kidman has touched upon that time period of her life in interviews since then.  

"I had a miscarriage at the end of my marriage, but I had an ectopic pregnancy at the beginning of my marriage," Kidman told Marie Claire in 2007. "It was incredibly traumatic for me. Sometimes you share your grief."

Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise in 1991. Image: Getty.


Former Scientologist Mike Rinder also came forward with claims that members of the Church of Scientology began tapping Kidman's phone in order to monitor her behaviour and interactions, to ensure they aligned with their values. 

These claims have since been vehemently denied by Scientology reps who say "the Church never ordered or participated in any illegal wiretapping."

After a lengthy divorce proceeding, the courts assigned joint custody to Cruise and Kidman, however both Isabella and Connor decided to stay in Los Angeles with their father when their mother returned to Australia.

Kidman has rarely been publicly seen with her children since the divorce, but in 2019 she told Vanity Fair that she supports their choices. 

"They are adults," she said. "They are able to make their own decisions. They have made choices to be Scientologists and as a mother, it’s my job to love them.

"And I am an example of that tolerance and that’s what I believe – that no matter what your child does, the child has love and the child has to know there is available love and I’m open here."

A system designed to protect.

Over the years former Scientologists have come forward to share their experience of the religion. 

According to Scientology practices a "suppressive person" or "SP" is a term given to someone who "possess characteristics and mental attitudes that cause them to violently oppose any betterment activity or group." 

This term has been attached to people who have left the church and who have often alleged that it is difficult to "disconnect" from Scientology for fear of the implications that follow.


Actress Leah Remini famously left the church after being a member since she was a young girl. Since "disconnecting" in 2013 she has made a point of becoming an unofficial whistleblower and has come forward with her experiences during her time in what she calls a "cult".

In 2013 during an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Remini explained that when you leave the Church of Scientology, you are completely cut off from your former friends and family. In short, they are strictly forbidden from interacting with anyone who has excommunicated themselves from the church.

Given this practice, this has raised questions about Kidman's relationship with her adult children (Isabella is now 31 years old and Connor 29 years old). Given that Isabella and Connor are members of the Church of Scientology and their mother is most likely considered an SP, this could make contact between the family members difficult. 

Nicole Kidman with her children Connor and Isabella Cruise in 2004. Image: Getty.


During a 2018 interview with WHO magazine, Kidman alluded to this when she made a rare comment about her relationship with her eldest children.

"I’m very private about all that," Nicole pointed out. "I have to protect all those relationships. I know 150% that I would give up my life for my children because it’s what my purpose is. They are able to make their own decisions."

A way forward for both Katie and Nicole.

While their stories and experiences are their own, the public narratives around Holmes and Kidman will be forever linked. While we may never know what really went on behind closed doors, it can be assumed that both women made the decision to walk away from something that wasn't serving them.

For Holmes she was allegedly able to broker a future where she could remove her daughter from Scientology but for Kidman, she might have had to take a different path when it comes to her family. 

Either way, we cannot compare the two women's stories. 

Feature Image: Getty.