Keith Urban seems to lead a pretty charmed life these days: He’s won four Grammy Awards in a little more than a decade, and he’s been happily married for nearly 12 years to Nicole Kidman, with whom he shares daughters Sunday, 9, and Faith, 7. But none of this seemed possible to the country star before his summer 2006 wedding to Kidman. During a conversation on Friday at South by Southwest, Urban opened up about how getting sober 12 years ago with Kidman’s help became a major turning point in his life. “It’s something I needed because I’m alcoholically wired,” he said, according to Rolling Stone.
“I wish I’d gotten sober many years earlier than I did, but it is what it is,” Urban said. “I knew I wasn’t at my full potential, and that’s what was starting to get to me. I was enslaved…I was living a very, very small life.” Since Kidman staged an intervention four months into their marriage and Urban checked into rehab, however, his life has been infinitely better. “There’s probably less fear,” he said. “I can dare to suck, and it doesn’t bother me as much as it would have.” According to Rolling Stone, Urban noted on Friday that he learned this fearlessness from the Big Little Lies star. “The way I approach [my career] is, ‘Let’s do it. We can scrap it after the fact.’ I learned that from my wife. Try anything, do anything, it’ll be very apparent if it sucks. But I have to try it,” he said. “I would never have discovered [certain ideas] if I hadn’t dared to suck.”
Urban, 50, reportedly went on to share yet another very valuable lesson he’s learned from Kidman: how to be a good partner. “Before I got married, I sucked at relationships. I couldn’t give myself to a relationship. But I’d write songs about love and relationships,” Urban said, describing a time when he played one such song for an ex-girlfriend. “She looked at me and said, ‘You’re a f*cking hypocrite.’ And I couldn’t argue. I realized I was writing from the place of the person I wanted to be.” And even though he’s since become that person, Urban said there’s no lack of subject matter for his music. “Sh*t, who doesn’t have adversity?” he said. “There’s a lifetime of stuff to draw from.”
The Australian singer has previously spoken about how Kidman pushed him to get sober shortly after they tied the knot. “I caused the implosion of my fresh marriage,” he told Rolling Stone in 2016. “It survived, but it’s a miracle it did. I was spiritually awoken with her. I use the expression ‘I was born into her,’ and that’s how I feel. And for the first time in my life, I could shake off the shackles of addiction.”