Meryl Streep reveals Nicole Kidman's “Big Little Lies” skinny-dipping routine at AFI Life Achievement Award gala

Plus: Morgan Freeman spoofs Kidman's iconic AMC ad and more highlights.

Nicole Kidman is the latest recipient of the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award — and apparently a committed skinny-dipper.

The 56-year-old actress received the honor Saturday night, and the stars were out in full force to pay tribute to her career. Reese Witherspoon regaled audiences with stories about their producing partnership. Naomi Watts took the stage to celebrate their friendship, which began when they were 15 years old. And Mike Myers surprised everyone when he emerged from behind an Eyes Wide Shut mask.

It was a true Kidman love-fest, filled with laughter and deep affection. Here, the five best moments from her AFI ceremony.

Morgan Freeman spoofs Kidman's AMC ad

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Morgan Freeman

Kevin Winter/Getty

Morgan Freeman

Kidman's Lioness costar Morgan Freeman kicked off the proceedings with a remake of her iconic AMC theaters ad. "We come to AFI to honor Nicole Kidman," he began, appearing in a pre-taped video that recreated the camera angles and tone of the original.

Freeman delivered the entire speech, adjusted to fete Kidman. "Somehow, she makes heartbreak feel good in a place like this," he quipped. "Nicole Kidman — she just makes movies better."

After the ad spoof concluded, Freeman took to the stage and delivered a heartfelt speech about the experience of being an AFI honoree. He wrapped by explaining that Moulin Rouge! is one of his favorite films, and offered up a note-perfect bit of "Your Song" (which was featured in the movie), telling Kidman, "How wonderful life is now you're in the world."

Keith Urban makes everyone cry

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Keith Urban

Kevin Winter/Getty

Keith Urban

Keith Urban and Kidman have led a largely under-the-radar romance over the course of their 18-year marriage. But on Saturday, Urban proved he's the ultimate wife guy.

The singer told the story of how the couple first met in 2005 during a taping of the talk show G'day LA and how he felt as if he were "meeting a real-life princess." After a week of carrying around her phone number on a scrap of paper in his pocket, Urban finally worked up the courage to call and ask her out.

He also exposed his deepest vulnerabilities, recalling how his struggle with addiction sent him to the Betty Ford Center only months after their marriage. "Four months into a marriage, I'm in rehab for three months," Urban said. "We had no idea what was going to happen to us. And if you want to see what love in action really looks like, give that a whirl. Nic pushed through every negative voice — I'm sure even some of her own. And she chose love. And here we are tonight, 18 years later."

Urban brought the house down with his praise and awe for her work. "One of the things people don't know about Nic is when I met her, she was living in New York City completely alone in a rented apartment in Chelsea," he said. "And she would say things to me like, 'I don't need anyone. I can take care of myself.' I had to push through all of that to let her know that you don't have to do that. I'm here. I'm going to love you through everything."

"She's raw, but she's resilient," he concluded. "She's serious and a complete goofball, crazy fun to be around. She's an excellent organizer, and she's super chill. But she also has a bit of a mantra and that is: 'Choose love.' I've watched her do this many times, navigating emotionally complex things that she's gone through with so many people. She always chooses that phrase. She lives by 'Choose love.' She has a capacity to love like no one I've ever met. And I know tonight's all about her body of work so far. So far, baby! But next year will be 20 years that I've been madly in love with you. Congratulations."

Miles Teller recalls framing an Easter invite from Kidman

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Miles Teller

Kevin Winter/Getty

Miles Teller

Kidman cast Miles Teller in his first feature film, 2010's Rabbit Hole, which also marked her debut as a producer. Teller shared the story of his audition, his experiences on set, and the ways Kidman changed his life. But his cutest admission was about what happened after production ended. Teller gave Kidman a hug at the wrap party, assuming he'd probably never hear from her again.

"Then, a couple months later in the mail, I get a letter and it's from Keith and Nicole," Teller said, "and they invited me to their house for Easter. It was like for an Easter egg hunt. And I framed it. That really did mean so much to me, and it still does."

Meryl Streep reveals a Big Kidman secret

<p>Kevin Winter/Getty</p> Meryl Streep

Kevin Winter/Getty

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep, a recipient of the same honor, presented Kidman with the award, but first she delivered a barn burner of a speech, opening with a joke about the production team for their 2002 movie The Hours giving Kidman her nose.

She also revealed a surprising story about Kidman's morning routine on the set of their series Big Little Lies. "Reese [Witherspoon] told me the very first night we were up in Monterey, before we started shooting, she said, 'You know what she does?' I said, 'No, Nicole?' She goes, 'Yeah, you know what she does? She goes out at 5 before dawn and she goes skinny-dipping behind the hotel in the ocean.' I looked at Nicole and I said, 'Are you kidding me? The Pacific is like 48 degrees in March.' Nicole said, 'Yeah! I love it!'"

Riffing on her own status as the "greatest actress of her generation," Streep also made a meal of saluting Kidman's acting prowess, "To me, darling, you have a wild mongrel talent," she gushed. "You're like a mustang, a workhorse, and a champion racer all in one, but one whose spirit, they'll never break. Never. The range of your work is stunning. Your list of credits and roles and good deeds in the world would take a normal person three lifetimes to achieve. Your life and your résumé challenges everything we know about how many hours there are in the day and how many places a woman can be at one time. It's hard not to envy Nicole, but it's also impossible not to be in awe of her."

Streep then told a story of witnessing Kidman's process firsthand on season 2 of Big Little Lies. "When an actress bares all and leaps off into the unknown, she dives deep into the darker parts of what it is to be a human being," Streep said. "But I don't think it's bravery. I think it's love. I think she just loves it. And I think that's the greatest attribute an actor can have — that blend of appetite and curiosity and recklessness. You have that, baby."

Nicole Kidman accepts her award

<p>Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty</p> Nicole Kidman

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Nicole Kidman

When Kidman closed out the night with her acceptance speech, she was clearly verklempt. She began by gushing back at Streep, saying, "I've always loved you. I don't know what it is. You're a beacon of excellence and warmth and generosity, but you've been my guiding light. So to receive this from you, you have no idea. My husband will attest, my parents will attest. It's always been you, and no one can touch you."

Kidman told stories of her childhood, such as her performing in local theater productions in Australia and being paid in books because she was too young to receive a paycheck. She used the opportunity to request plays by Anton Chekhov, Henrik Ibsen, and more, giving herself an education in the greats.

Then there was the time she passed on doing a young Jane Campion's student film simply because she didn't like the script. "Be careful who you say no to," she joked. "I've subsequently learned, you don't turn down Jane Campion. Ever."

She talked of past struggles and thanked all those in the room who had let her sleep on their floors, or given her a lift to an audition. Kidman also took the time to thank each of her directors by name.

"It is a privilege to make films, and glorious to have made the films and television with storytellers who allowed me to just run wild, be free, and play all of these unconventional women," she reflected. "Thank you for making me better at my craft and giving me a place, however temporary, in this world. Thank you for inviting me to these movie families, and thank you for my childhood dream that became a reality."

Kidman closed with a call to action to support fresh storytelling and new talent. "There's so many more exciting young directors and writers and voices that are completely original and need to be heard, and they have a lot to say. We need to give them the chance to say it and to hear them."

"And I'm here. I'm ready to roll up my sleeves," she concluded. "I believe art can hurt, that it can heal, and love does win, and film is forever."

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