EXCLUSIVE: 'It left scars...we had no inkling he was using heroin': Naomi Watts's mother opens up about death of star's dad from an overdose when she was just seven, and says Liev Schreiber is her 'father figure'
By Danielle Gusmaroli for Daily Mail Australia
Two-time Oscar nominee Naomi Watts once admitted she felt a part of her was missing, having only known her father briefly until a heroin overdose cut his life short when she was just seven years old.
A then-tiny Naomi and her family were left reeling when the Pink Floyd sound engineer and road manager, Peter Watts, was found dead in his flat in Notting Hill.
And his untimely death in August 1976 still deeply effects the Birdman star, according to her mother Myfanway Edwards, who has opened up to Daily Mail Australia in a candid interview about the actress and her family's tragic past.......
Speaking from her home in the hinterland hideaway of Byron Bay, Australia, Myfanway, affectionately known as Miv, says, 'It left scars. It was a shock. His death made Naomi incredibly determined.
'It had a profound effect on her, as it did on the entire family.'
But Miss Edwards says the family tragedy has helped Naomi with her film roles, in particular the 2003 American drama, 21 Grams, in which Naomi plays a woman who loses her husband and both her daughters in a horrific hit-and-run.
'With Naomi, it's been an enormous help for her, films like 21 Grams...that emotion is buried in there, she uses it, she can work with that,' Miss Edwards explains.
'It's a terrible thing to happen to anyone, especially at that age when she needed her dad. We had no inkling he was using heroin at all.'
Miv, a former model and interior designer in her Sixties, laments her husband's death, revealing they had been reconciled for just six weeks and were piecing together their marriage after divorcing, when he died unexpectedly.
She says she had no idea the father of her two children- Ben, now a revered New York photographer who bears a striking resemblance to his father, and Naomi - had started using drugs, she says.
'The truth is he died of a heroin overdose,' she says ruefully. 'We were divorced at the time but the sad thing is we were having a second try at our marriage when it happened.'
'He [Pete] was back from America for six weeks when he died. We met up again and we were trying to put things together. I always felt it was worth another try.
'Drugs was something that happened after we separated. I loved him deeply, we all did, it was impossible not to. Naomi loves hearing stories about him.'
Recalling anecdotes of the lovable Bedford-born roadie, who dressed in mohair suits and string ties, she adds, 'He loved going for long walks in the woods with the children and was so loving with them.
'He once walked miles into the forest in the middle of the night to find the perfect Christmas tree but got lost,' she chuckles.
'I remember he would later record a little song to both his children, in a Santa voice, and hid the tape recorder under the same tree to greet the children on Christmas morning.'
And remembering fondly his excitable reaction to Naomi's birth, Miv says: 'He came flying into the hospital, saying, "I think my wife's in here, I think she's had a baby!"'
'I can hear his voice now outside my hospital room door. He had just come back from Scotland with the Floyd when they were in a Trannie [Ford Transit van].
'She (Naomi) was born at 11 o'clock in the morning and he loved having a little girl. She was very blonde and very pink when she was born.
'One of the nurses said to me "Ooh, we've got a Marilyn Monroe in this one" and they said "I think she's going to be famous."'
The absence of a father has clearly impacted the Hollywood star and in previous interviews she has steadfastly refused to talk about him, telling More magazine three years ago: 'I don't, it's too personal, forgive me...'
She later tentatively added: 'Growing up, there was this wondering what he would think of me or what I would think of him.'
Indeed, the English-born Australian found her own path in the world, learning the value of life at a young age.
Born in Shoreham, Kent, she saw her mother, a Welsh-born antiques dealer and amateur actress, separate from her father when she was just four.
The sound engineer and manager for psychedelic rock band Pink Floyd was frequently on the road and known by fans for his manic laughter, even heard echoing across the band's seminal Dark Side of the Moon album.
'There was a lot of sadness in my life when I was a child,' Naomi told More magazine. 'Mum had to struggle a lot to bring us up and I have enormous admiration for her.'
Shaken by her ex husband's death, grieving Miv took her two young children to live with their grandparents in Wales, a period the actress has described as idyllic.
They relocated to Australia when Naomi was 14, by which time the teenage outsider was already gravitating towards acting, inspired by having witnessed her mother on stage as Eliza Doolittle in an amateur production of My Fair Lady when she was five.
Myfanwy soon established a career in the burgeoning film business, working as a stylist for television commercials, then turning to costume design and ultimately working for soap opera, Return to Eden.
Naomi, meanwhile, attended Mosman High School and North Sydney Girls High School but never graduated.
She was enrolled in acting lessons by her mother while working as a paper girl and managing a delicatessen in Sydney's affluent North Shore and finally obtained her first role in the 1986 drama film, For Love Alone.
Five years later in 1991 she landed her big acting break in Flirting, starring opposite future Hollywood upcoming stars, Nicole Kidman and Thandie Newton.
After dating the late Heath Ledger, who died of a prescription drug overdose in 2008, and a string of famous suitors, she met her romantic partner, director Liev Schreiber, in 2005, with whom she now has two sons, Alexander Peter (known as Sasha), seven, and Samuel Kai, five.
Miv clearly adores the father of her grandchildren and describes him as a 'father figure' for Naomi.
'He's a great, very intelligent, wonderful guy and great father,' she says.'He makes magic for the children on daily basis, he's got stories and fires their imagination.
'He's solid, he's a great guy, a real New Yorker who has a lot of integrity. He's definitely a strong father figure for her.'
Today, 46-year-old Diana star Naomi is the reigning queen of troubled, anguished or imperilled characters and her performance as Cristina Peck, bereft at the loss of her husband and children, in 21 Grams in 2003, was so compelling it earned her an Oscar nomination for best actress.
She was nominated for Best Actress for her role in The Impossible and more recently her movie Birdman won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
The same month the blonde star graciously collected her accolade for Best Global Actress in Motion Pictures by Chinas 15th Huading Awards in Macau.
Her sheer brilliance, her mother maintains, is in part thanks to the family's rocky first years when Peter, who first worked as the road manager for Pretty Things before joining Pink Floyd, was permanently on the road.
'It's fight or flight when you lose a parent and it was fight with us,' Miv says. 'She's [Naomi] seen the difficulties from the age of four when we were a three-person family, we had to sink or swim.
'I sometimes wonder why his children were not enough? Having grandchildren now, I understand the renewed seed of joy they bring to ones life.
'I think the three of us talk to Pete a lot, and I often hear him giving me and Ben and Naomi the will to push on,' she explains.
'When people ask if I am proud of Naomi, most of all I'm proud that she is an outstanding mother and if Pete were alive today, he'd be immensely proud of both our children.'
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