The 41-year-old, who has said little about her marriage to the high-profile Scientologist since their divorce in 2001, said that her self-esteem suffered while she was Mrs. Tom Cruise.
"I felt I became a star only by association," she told Glamour magazine.
"I didn't think [my early movies] were very good, which is why I would always cower in the background.
"I thought, I don't deserve to be here. We would go to the Oscars and I would think, 'I'm here to support him'.
"I felt it was my job to put on a beautiful dress and to be seen and not heard."
Nicole met Tom when making flick Days Of Thunder when Nic was just 22. Now married to Keith Urban and mum to four-month-old Sunday Rose, she says she's on top of the world.
"I'm in a place of gratitude and humility," she said. "I touch wood every day. The journey of life - we all go through it.
"You have love, you lose love, you find new love. To have love again is a beautiful thing."
Check out Nicole's evolution from freckly-faced teen to Hollywood A-lister in our gallery below!