It is a truth universally acknowledged (at least in my own head) that Nicole Kidman stole my life. Or - to be more precise - she took the life that should have been mine, had she not ever existed. Oh, and had I not the tendency to eat everything in sight when confronted with a buffet.
As a fifteen year old girl, I harboured dreams of becoming an actress. My parents - thrilled, as you can imagine, by the prospect of their private-school educated daughter ending up a waitress instead of a lawyer - relented and found me an agent.
My success was meteoric, in a somewhat muted kind of way. Just weeks after joining the agency, and having attended only a handful of auditions, I got a call back for a leading role in a movie. I was beside myself. It was breathtakingly exciting. I was going to be a star!
The read through with the director went extremely well, and I was subsequently called back for a third audition. This time I was asked whether I rode a bike. I did (or at least I had, when I'd last been on a bike some 8 years prior) so I confidently answered 'yes'. I went home with high hopes, and a resolution to begin practice cycling immediately.
Later in the week I received a call from my agent. I'd come runner-up for the role - the lead in a film called "BMX Bandits". They'd chosen another newcomer, a tall girl with frizzy red hair who I knew from my acting classes. I was seething with jealousy. Still, I figured, who's going to see a movie about some kids on bikes?
Happily, my bitterness was short lived. Just weeks after missing out on the BMX Bandits role, I received a second call back for another role - one of the leads in an eight part television mini-series, to be shot on location in Queensland. I'd received the script, but no indication of which part I was up for. There were three female characters - a woman in her mid-thirties, a twelve year old girl, and a teenager of nearly eighteen. Whilst I felt pretty sure I wasn't being considered for the thirty-something role, I wasn't sure which of the others I was auditioning for. At fifteen, I was smack bang in the middle.
I sat in my chair, between the director and producer, listening to their concept (a family on an island) desperately searching for clues. Do I swing my legs and try to look young, or cross them and try to look sophisticated?
"Of course, we're considering you for the part of Sally," the director said. Ah... the seventeen year old.
"Of course," I said knowingly. I crossed my legs and tried to look mature.
The read through went well, and I was called back the following week to audition with the actor already cast as Sally's father. I was getting closer and closer to my dream, and it was way better than some silly film about bikes. A TV mini-series! I'd have my photo in TV week! I'd be famous!
I passed the audition, and then it was time for the final stage. The swimsuit contest. Okay, so it wasn't exactly a contest, but close. The director needed to see me in my bathers, to check that I was, well, lithe enough for the role. No-one wants to see a chunky 17 (ehem - 15) year old girl frolicking around in shorts on the beach. Not on TV, anyway.
I was demented with excitement at the final audition (and quite light-headed from lack of food). I wore a black faux-leather bikini which nicely showed off my 17 (ehem - 15) year old figure, whittled down dramatically from eight stone to seven-and-a half in the week before the audition. I felt ridiculous parading around, but quite frankly would have stood on my head wearing a red nose and leg warmers if it gave me my shot at fame.
I didn't have to. The faux-leather bikini worked. I got the role.
"We're definitely casting you as Sally," the director said. It was the greatest moment of my 17 (ehem - 15) year old life.
The path to fame was lit ahead. I just had to walk down the red carpet to the Hollywood career that awaited. Unfortunately, though, there were some minor bumps along the way.