Best is yet to come.
By Kate Bussman, The Sunday Telegraph
June 06, 2010
She has two kids under three and a packed work schedule. So you'd think that when Aussie-bred actress Naomi Watts appeared in the spotlight at the Cannes Film Festival last month, she'd have had bags under her eyes.
Not so - in picture after picture she looks better than ever, and at least 10 years younger than her 41 years. And Hollywood has noticed.
Watts has just been signed to play the lead in Blonde, a biopic about Marilyn Monroe, chosen over more obvious choices like 26-year-old bombshell Scarlett Johansson. All the more impressive when you consider that Monroe was 36 when she died - five years younger than Watts is now.
But it's been a long road to success. Watts has been in the business for 24 years and admitted that waiting for her turn in the sun took its toll.
"Several times, literally and metaphorically speaking, I packed my bags, many, many times, and every time there'd be some little thing that would lure me back," Watts said. "Because, ultimately, my heart was set on something, on this whole thing. I mean, I love what I do."
The A-list rewards are finally rolling in and 2010 is shaping up to be Watts' year.
Besides Blonde, she has three films out this year: Mother And Child, which hits our screens on June 17, Fair Game and Woody Allen's You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger. Suddenly, Watts' 41-year-old face is the one to watch - but the question on everyone's lips in Hollywood is how she keeps that face looking so good.
According to the experts, it's not plastic surgery.
"I've looked at a lot of pictures and I don't think there's anything that would suggest that," says Dr Ellen Marmur, chief of cosmetic surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. "She has normal smile lines and none of the tell-tale signs of Botox like a very flat forehead, or a widening of the area between the eyes. I can't say she hasn't had chemical peels or a little filler here or there but, if she has, it's been very well done."
For her part, Watts has always been an outspoken opponent of cosmetic surgery.
"People my age and younger are having so much work done, but it's a terrible thing to mess with your face," she told a British newspaper two years ago. "My job is to express myself. We've got to allow ourselves to age gracefully."
That said, she does take care of her looks. Watts - like every good Aussie - is religious about using sunscreen, and is a client of David Colbert, a top New York dermatologist favoured by Cate Blanchett. She gets facials every six to eight weeks.
Physically, she's also in great shape. Naturally slim, in the past she has been thinner than she is now, most notably around the time King Kong was released in 2005.
Although she has trained with Rob Parr, the fitness expert who famously helped get Demi Moore into the best shape of her life, she is also a devotee of Pilates and yoga.
"Naomi is able to get back in shape very quickly - she has good muscle memory and great determination," says Daniel Loigerot, her New York Pilates instructor for the past four years. Together they do two fast-paced, hour-long sessions each week, focusing on rebuilding core strength, improving her posture and preventing back and neck pain.
The results of her hard work were obvious at Cannes, where she attended premieres of the comedy-drama You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger and Fair Game, in which she plays exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame opposite Sean Penn. Whether in a thigh-length, backless cocktail dress, a strapless fitted gown or a one-piece swimsuit at the beach, she looked toned, fit and glowing with health.
"She's got a great body," agrees Australian fashion stylist Anna Bingemann, who has been working with Watts since her breakthrough role in 2001's Mulholland Drive. Together with hairstylist Robert Vetica and make-up artist Val Garland, Bingemann created edgier looks at Cannes - and it's paid off.
"I think it's a very exciting time of her life. She's doing fantastic work with great directors and strong leading men, and she has a life outside of that which is Liev and her two babies. I think all women look almost more beautiful after they have their children. She's always been beautiful, but there's a radiance and confidence when you have this joy at home."
And no one would begrudge her that. Neither Watts' personal nor professional life have been smooth sailing. While her career flailed, best friend Nicole Kidman's flourished, and a high profile relationship with fellow Australian Heath Ledger ended after only one year. She finally met the man of her dreams, fellow actor and director Liev Schreiber, with whom she has two sons, Sasha, two, and Kai, 18 months, in 2005, but her career was still on the lowdown.
Even just two years ago, when she signed as the first celebrity face of Thierry Mugler's Angel, she wasn't exactly a household name.
"I didn't know who she was, although I'd seen her films," admits Christophe de Lataillade, creative director of the brand. "A lot of people in our French HQ were disappointed - she's not famous like Madonna. We took a bet with her. But Thierry said, 'The best of her career is yet to come, and will probably come while we're in contract with her'. That's exactly what has happened."
"She has always been a brilliant actor," says Rob Shuter, former celebrity publicist for the likes of Jennifer Lopez, now a gossip columnist for popeater.com.
"But the fact that we know so little about her personal life means we will be more likely to believe her as Marilyn."
Critics may say the decision to cast her in that role is a gamble, but all the signs are it's a pretty safe bet.