Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman announce separation

— Actor Tom Cruise and his actress wife, Nicole Kidman, one of Hollywood's best-known star couples, said on Monday they have separated after more than a decade of marriage, citing the strains of their movie careers.

A statement issued by their publicist said, "Citing the difficulties inherent in divergent careers which constantly keep them apart, they concluded that an amicable separation seem best." The statement added that the couple retained their high respect for each other, "both personally and professionally."

Cruise, 38, and Kidman, 33, were a show business dream team � each able to command top projects and top dollars for their work. She wowed stage audiences in London and New York by appearing nude in the play "The Blue Room" and he has been nominated for Oscars three times.

The couple met on the set of the 1990 racing car drama, "Days of Thunder," with the Cruise saying his first reaction "to meeting Nic was sheer lust." Following a whirlwind courtship, they were married in a "top-secret" Christmas Eve ceremony in Telluride, Colo., in 1990.

The announcement by the couple, who spent more than 15 months making Stanley Kubrick's final film, the erotic thriller, "Eyes Wide Shut," took many by surprise as they have frequently denied reports of trouble in the marriage and have sued when newspapers published such reports or invaded their privacy.

In 1998, they won a libel case against the Daily Express newspapers in London for reporting that their "marriage was a sham." They donated the libel damages to charity.

A year later, a free-lance journalist in Los Angeles pleaded guilty to wiretapping for intercepting a telephone call, purportedly from Kidman to Cruise in which she told him their marriage was "hanging by a thread."

They also sued The Star tabloid for printing a claim that they needed coaching from sex therapists for their love scenes in "Eyes Wide Shut."

Both Kidman and Cruise have spoken of their pleasure in making "Eyes Wide Shut," about a couple whose marriage is tested by the possibilities of infidelity, and working with Kubrick, one of the masters of American cinema who died shortly after completing it.

The red-haired Kidman was born in Hawaii and raised in Australia, where she became a television star and made her U.S. film debut in the 1989 thriller "Dead Calm."

The New York-born Cruise had planned to become a priest but developed a passion for acting instead. His breakout performance was in the 1983 film "Risky Business," in which he plays a teen-ager who runs wild when his parents leave town.

From there his career escalated with a series of starring roles in big-grossing films during the 1980s, including "Top Gun," "Rain Man" and "Born on the Fourth of July," for which he earned his first of three Oscars nominations.

In 1990, he made headlines by joining the Church of Scientology, whose teachings he credited with helping him to overcome dyslexia.

He and Kidman have two adopted children.

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