A day after arriving in Sydney on a long-haul flight from the U.S., Keith Urban was back at the airport to pick up his wife of 17 years, Nicole Kidman, as she came home for Christmas on December 18.

The pair smiled widely as he led her by the hand and ushered her outside into his waiting car. “It was all very sweet and lovey-dovey — he even opened the car door for her,” says an observer, “but it definitely seemed a little bizarre, like they were putting on a show of unity and happiness for all of the cameras.”

In private, it’s a different story. “Nicole has been secretly struggling and doing her best to hide it,” says an insider exclusively to In Touch. But fans have started to notice her erratic social media posts, dramatic weight loss and changing face due to suspected plastic surgery. “Everyone wants to know what’s wrong with her. Even those close to her are concerned. The truth is, Nicole has been working herself ragged, and it’s taking a toll.”

Unrelenting Schedule

In the past two years, Nicole has filmed five TV shows and three movies. “She’s been acting in projects nearly back-to-back while also doing advertisements and producing,” says the insider. “She even just took on the job as a Balenciaga brand ambassador, as if she didn’t have enough on her plate.”

Another source reveals she also earns upwards of $1 million for a few hours’ work appearing at private events, such as corporate conventions and sales conferences. “The sheer frequency of these jobs seems to indicate she’s desperate for easy cash,” says the source. Despite already being worth an estimated $250 million, “it’s as if she fears if she turns down work opportunities, she’ll lose the career she worked so hard for,” the insider adds of the 56-year-old. “She’s shown no signs of slowing down.”

And she throws herself into every new job, body and soul. As a practitioner of the Method acting style, she’s admitted her preparation for roles is “bats—t crazy.” She’s been known to lose herself in a character to the point where those on set have observed that “something inside her just snaps and she becomes a different person,” says the insider.

It’s difficult to turn off that level of intensity when she gets home. After making the 2020 series The Undoing, Nicole admitted, “I went down for a week because your immune system doesn’t know the difference between acting and truth.”

The side effects are more than just physical. “Certain things penetrate in a really deep way. There is just no getting around that, and I wish there was. It does take a toll on my health and my spirit,” she’s said, adding that sometimes when she gets home, her children “are going, ‘Why are you looking like that, Mummy?’”

Alarming Photos

Fans wonder the same thing. “Nicole has always been shy and slightly quirky, which can cause her to act awkwardly in social situations. But her recent behavior has drawn a lot of attention,” says the insider. “She just seems off at times.”

In a series of Instagram photos posted on November 30, the actress made faces while wearing just rock band T-shirts and no pants.

Aside from acting like “she’s 15 years old,” as one commenter griped, others fretted about her bony frame and speculated that she seems to have gotten plastic surgery.

Scary Skinny

In person, the changes are even more noticeable. “She looks incredibly skinny. People are whispering about how boney she is,” says a witness who’s seen her on set for the erotic thriller Babygirl in NYC recently. (Nutrition expert Dr. Fred Pescatore, who has not treated Nicole, estimates that the 5-foot-11 actress is about 25 pounds below the average weight for her height.) “Her face doesn’t look so sunken,” adds the witness, “because she appears to have had fillers.”

New York-based plastic surgeon Dr. Ramtin Kassir believes she’s done a lot more than that. “I think the [recent] pictures you see are the result of surgery, fillers and injectables,” says the doctor (who has not treated her), adding that he believes Nicole has had face, brow and neck lifts. (She admitted to using Botox in 2011 but claimed she stopped.) “When you get a lot of injectables and fillers, it interferes with the lymphatic drainage,” adds Dr. Kassir, “so you get this puffy balloon face.”

Much-Needed Break

Some believe Nicole needs to slow down. “She tends to lose weight when she’s overworked,” notes the insider, adding that even an A-list Oscar winner can’t escape Hollywood’s demanding beauty standards, which have led to her being criticized for dressing in age-inappropriate outfits in photo shoots to maintain her youthful appearance. “And on top of dealing with all that public criticism, she’s not giving herself enough time to recover from the constant strain of travel and long working hours. She doesn’t have the comforts of home and barely sees her family, which is difficult for her and could explain why she doesn’t seem like herself.”

The holidays are her chance to recharge. “The good news is that she gets to spend them with her family,” the insider says of Keith, 56, and their daughters Sunday, 15, and Faith, 13, as well as Nicole’s mother and sister. “They mean everything to her. Nicole is going to cherish this time and try to relax and re-center herself for the new year — before she pushes herself too far.”

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