LE DIVORCE - Q&A with Naomi Watts
You don't have a sister in real life. Did that hinder you for playing Roxy in LE DIVORCE?
It certainly didn't hinder me. I always wanted a sister and I created friendships that were a replacement for that. In terms of for the movie, the story needed that and Kate Hudson and I gave that. It happened without forcing it. It was just a natural progression of our relationship and what we kind of knew about each other - and wanted to do. I arrived late, and Kate had already been shooting for a while. To play sisters, you have to have an intimacy and trust and history. We didn't have that luxury. But we knew what we both needed in honour of the story. It just happened...it was organic.
Some have said this is a rather unglamorous role for you to take. What do you think?
Look, no. It didn't even occur to me. I saw the character and, yes, she was pregnant, but that was part of the story. I thought 'How could someone consider taking their life, when she's pregnant?' I didn't think 'Oh God, I look fat in the pregnant suit!' The times you go 'OK, I want to look like a movie star' are when you're going down the red carpet. It's nice to put on a frock and have professionals do their work on you, and that's nice. You feel girly and fun. In my own life, I never look like a movie star. In movies, sometimes there are roles where, yeah, you look better. You're lit better and it's taken hours to do that. But also I remember doing a movie recently, where I had fallen asleep in the car, and the make-up artist said 'You've got a double chin there'. I couldn't believe she was even telling me - I didn't care. That's just the way I sleep. I didn't go - 'Ooh, there's a good angle to rest my head!' Once you do that, you're doomed.
How was your experience of Paris?
For me, I came straight off another film, and literally went straight to the set. I was playing an American woman who was very immersed in the French culture, and spoke the language - and I was accomplished in neither. So I had to instantly learn French, and explore that culture as much as I could. It was very exciting and I was very nervous about taking on the role because of that pressure. But I was set up with a beautiful home, and I went straight into living that lifestyle. I was looking at Paris, and other people's lives, and just really enjoying that. In terms of the experience of making the film, it was work but it was also very much a lifestyle. In America we would tend to work much longer hours. I would just walk the streets and look at buildings, absorbing everything.
Can you remember the first time you ever went to Paris?
I was a kid. We would take the ferry across quite a bit, and stay in the South. I went back when I was 17, and stayed in a youth hostel. That was my first trip alone. It was great - walking around and seeing all the fantastic culture, the museums and architecture. It was beautiful - all my memories of Paris were great.
Was it easy to get your head around playing Roxy?
Well, I think the experience of playing a character who was raised in one country and then immigrated to France would be the same if I was playing an Australian. I grew up in England, and I moved to Australia when I was 14, so I know what that feels like. To Australian people, I'm English and to English I'm Australian. So, like me, my character was always an outsider.
You had incredible success with MULHOLLAND DRIVE. Was it hard to cope with that?
For me, it was such a slow build. What I did have was a period where I was growing up, and learning a lot about myself and understanding what I like and what I didn't like, and just who I was. I knew how to handle it. I'm a late bloomer, and if it had happened when I was Kate's age, there would've been no way I could've moved forward. I would've been maybe seduced into doing things that maybe I didn't want to do. So now I know what I'm like.
How do you feel about Los Angeles?
I've had my great moments and terrible moments in LA. It's been very kind to me lately but there were times where I so often thought about throwing the towel in, feeling very frustrated. There's so much competition and it's so hard to shine when you're being told who you are - too young, too old, too serious, too funny. Whatever. Basically, you start believing that, and losing that confidence in yourself. The reason we're actors is that we don't have the strongest identities anyway. We love to attach ourselves to other identities. But I really felt like I was losing a sense of who I was. I was un-hireable. But lucky old me ran into dark and mysterious David Lynch.
Did your agent try and calm your fears before that?
My agent called me into the office and said 'You're a good actress and I don't understand why you're not working. I've had a conversation with a few casting directors, and they say you're too desperate!' No shit, Sherlock! I am! It was terribly upsetting. I was told the feelings I was making the casting directors have - I was too intense or was worried about my age. It was a low point.
Did you wind up comparing yourself a lot to others?
Every day! No, you can't do that to yourself. It's very easy for a human being to compare themselves to another, who is more successful, or prettier or this or that. But if you do that to yourself, you're in a trap. What I try to do to myself early on, is think about the reverse - who wants to be me?"
"I've emigrated twice - from England to Australia and Australia to America. And I hang out with Australians in America. You want like-minded people. You talk about home - things you miss - and create a second family. But it doesn't mean that you can't fit in and assume that culture. For Roxy, it's not like she's trying to shed everything that's American about her. I think maybe she's sick of her family telling her what she should do. And yeah, she has tried to fit into the French culture and learn the language and she calls her children French. When her husband abandons her, some people think she could've gone home - but she doesn't want to do that.
How do you cope with having your personal life speculated upon in the press?
I don't read that kind of stuff really. I know people would write about some things, but I don't think people would recognise me that much. I hope they would be more interested in my work, and I will try and maintain that.
This year also saw you hit big with horror remake RING. Were you surprised by its success - and will there be a sequel?
I was surprised by it. But surprised in a good way. Not that I was shocked. Gore Verbinski was a wonderful director and DreamWorks know how to promote their movies. It was a good story line, really quite simple. And I think they did an incredible job with it. It was a great role for a genre film - you don't normally get to do much beyond screaming and running. And, yes, there will be a sequel. There's not a script yet, but it isn't the direct version of the Japanese sequel.
You've also shot 21 GRAMS, with Sean Penn and Benicio Del Toro. Was that vastly different from LE DIVORCE?
Oh, yes...for this one, I was very psychologically involved, and there was no other way to be. Sometimes, you do a movie and you're working for 10,12 weeks, sometimes 14, 15, 18-hour days. Your body just has to keep going. And if you're driving the film, I just find that when you stop and allow yourself to be still, that's when your body says 'OK, I'm getting the time I need now. I'm going to bed for five days!'
Question & Answer Text Copyright Twentieth Century Fox