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Mar 21, 2015

Role Recall: Naomi Watts Remembers 'Mulholland Drive,' 'King Kong,' and More

Kevin Polowy, Senior Editor Yahoo! Movies
March 19, 2015

'Insurgent' Actress Naomi Watts talks about her most memorable moments on movie sets from David Lynch quotes to fight scenes with Sean Penn, Flirting with Nicole Kidman, Mulholland Drive, The Ring, 21 grams, King Kong, The Impossible , Birdman...and more.

*video credit: Yahoo! Movies

Naomi Watts is a two-time Oscar nominee who just appeared in the Best Picture-winning Birdman, and who this week will enter the world of YA dystopia with Insurgent, the second entry in the wildly popular Divergent Series. She paid her dues to get where she is.

"I had done 10 years of auditioning, [and] no one was giving me the break," Watts, 46, told Yahoo movies of her arrival in Hollywood. "You could barely get eye contact with the person that you were reading for." That all changed when director David Lynch cast her in his deliciously weird mind-trip of a movie, Mulholland Drive (2001).

Watts has been a force on the big screen ever since, consistently making bold choices and bringing the drama in often-heavy films like 21 Grams, Eastern Promises and Funny Games. She’s balanced that weight with broader hits like The Ring movies, King Kong, and now the Divergent sequel Insurgent. In her latest, Watts plays Evelyn, estranged mother to Four (Theo James) and leader of the Factionless rebels. See her talk about six of her most famous roles in the video above. Here are some of the highlights, including the Australian film that brought her together with best friend, Nicole Kidman, and the drama that Sean Penn asked her to beat him up on.........

Flirting (1991)
Watts was born in England (her father, Peter Watts, was Pink Floyd’s road manager) but moved to Australia when she was 14. It was there she started acting, and at age 20 locked in this coming-of-age comedy that made waves Down Under, and played in limited release in the U.S. The film also introduced the world to Noah Taylor, Thandie Newton, and Nicole Kidman, with whom Watts become lifelong friends: “I had known Nicole since I was about 16, but that really solidified our friendship,” she says. “That was where our friendship truly blossomed.”

Mulholland Drive (2001)
The actress worked steadily for the next decade, in films like Tank Girl (1995) and Children of the Corn: The Gathering, but it was Lynch’s neo-noir classic that put her on the map (in which she was seen as, fittingly, a young actress struggling to find her way in Hollywood). Watts was immediately smitten with her “life mentor,” Lynch, who gave her the big break, as seemingly everybody else was on his set: “People would walk around with notebooks and take down the quotes that came out of him,” she said. “Everything is quotable, pretty much.”

The Ring (2002)
Watts scored her first major box office hit with this horror sensation about a haunted videotape that, if viewed, leads to imminent death. “I really wasn’t sure if I should do it, because I had just come from Mulholland Drive, and this was a commercial movie,” Watts said. “I’d seen so many actors come in and do something great, and then get seduced to going in the wrong direction because of impure reasons.” But as she admits, “It turned out really well for me.” Watts returned to the role of Rachel in 2005’s The Ring Two.

21 Grams (2003)
Watts received her first Oscar nomination (Best Actress) for her first collaboration with Birdman director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu; she played a mother grieving the loss of her husband and two children in a car crash. It’s an intense role in a harrowing movie, and Watts recalled her tough scenes with Sean Penn, a method actor who wanted her to actually hit him as they filmed a heated confrontation. “There were no stage slaps involved with Sean Penn — he needed to be hurt,” she said. “I remember walking away from that scene and having the imprint of my sweater deep into my wrist, because I had been hitting him so hard, just throwing punches at him.”
Role Recall: Naomi Watts Remembers 'Mulholland Drive,' 'King Kong,' and More

King Kong (2005)
It was Watts who got bruised and battered as blonde bombshell Ann Darrow on the massive set of Peter Jackson’s epic take on the iconic ape, which remains her biggest box office hit to date. During one green-screen shoot, the actress fell from an elevated position down into a crevice below. “I remember sort of blacking out,” she said. “All I could think about was that my dress was above my head and ‘people are looking at my underwear, I’m sure.’ It was pretty scary.”

The Impossible (2012)
Watts’ second Oscar nomination (again for Best Actress) also came for a matriarchal role in a tough-to-watch film; she played a real-life woman whose vacationing family was caught in the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It was a wet, tough shoot for her, but not everyone saw it that way: “Tom Holland, who played my young son, loved [the water scenes],” she said. “He’s 14 at the time. For him it was like going to a really good water park. For me, it was not fun.”

Birdman (2014)
Critics and audiences alike marveled at the cinematography and technical wizardry of Inarritu’s Oscar-winning black comedy, filmed to look like one giant extended take. Watts, who played a Broadway actress stuck in the middle of Michael Keaton and Edward Norton’s battle of wills, relayed how crucial each actor’s performance became. ” If one person fell down, everybody would go with them… but on the flipside, if we were all in synchronized perfection, then it was like winning a race. We were just high-fiving each other.”


JohnQ said...

This is a great video, with her talking about her own past roles and movies. The part about Sean Penn is interesting! But I guess Penn had been rewarded (over rewarded actually) with the few slaps that he got. He deserved to be slapped by the way.

Jessie said...

She was already so beautiful in Flirting, when Nicole Kidman looked just like an ugly duck.

Tess said...

Just wonder which one she would choose as a sugar daddy, Lynch or Inarritu.