In the world of Hollywood, image is everything, which makes it difficult sometimes for actors when it comes to the constant changes of real life. Naomi Watts is one such example.
Watts has experienced great success with roles in a wide variety of films including Mulholland Drive, The Ring, 21 Grams, and Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake. However, she has also achieved great success on a personal level as well, wedding actor Liev Schrieber and giving birth to two sons.
In the interim between her two births, Naomi filmed her newest movie, the action thriller The International. She talks about how her scheduling accommodations strengthened an already fervent desire to do the film., in which she plays a Manhattan assistant district attorney out to bring down one of the most powerful banks in the world.
“First of all, it came to me that Clive Owen was doing a movie with Tom Twyker,” she recalls, “And that made me instantly want to read the script, despite the fact that I felt that there would be no way that I would be working that close to having my first child. Then, I met with Tom and the way he talked about the film, his sensibilities, cinematically, sounded very interesting to me. The subject definitely played a part and Tom also said that, no, look, let me go away and see if I can work out the schedule and make it doable for you.”
“And he did and he came back and he said we can work it in 21 days and shoot five consecutive weeks,” Watts adds, “They started two months before me. And so, by the time I got onto the set, my son’s three months old. So I felt ready to go back to work. Also, I couldn’t do a film where I was driving the wholeâ€¦I couldn’t have played Clive’s part. Definitely, some of the films I’ve done, the character’s definitely in an emotional, turbulent state. Eleanor Whitman was actually quite together and I felt that I could handle her.”
Watts then summed up in a few short words her overall experience of working with director Tom Twyker.
“He’s a bully,” Naomi jokes, “No, I’m just kidding, he’s not.”
While one is inclined to believe that an on-screen pairing of her with Clive Owen will involve in their characters sparking on-screen romantic fireworks, Naomi was quick to tell us don’t hold your breath.
“We shot nine love scenes that didn’t work,” Watts explains, “That was just a side kind ofâ€¦We did shoot one scene that was an almost moment and even that scene was very, very carefully done. There’s many times in life where you have those ‘almost’ moments, but it doesn’t happen for whatever reason. So to make it, to put it in the movie would have felt completely inauthentic and taken us out of the movie and go, yeah, this is the Clive and Naomi moment that the audience is waiting for and I think we would have been lost in that moment.”
“That’s what I love about Tom’s style is that it’s never any moments where he’s giving you exactly what your waiting for,” she continues, “It’s always this surprise and truth more than anything. So we did shoot that moment and it was in a couple of cuts, but I guess we felt it didn’t ring true. And when I say subtle, I mean, it’s when she leans on his shoulder and that’s it and will they kiss or will they not and they didn’t.”
Watts was also quick to note the film’s impeccable release in the middle of an ever-continuing global economic crisis.
“Yeah, I mean, people have said the timing is extraordinary and did you know we actually created the whole thing as a publicity stunt?!” Naomi notes, “No, I mean, it is uncanny, the timing and what’s going on and it makes it extra thrilling for an audience member, I suppose, being on the edge of your seat.”
As a result of the economic crisis, box office receipts have surged since the beginning of the year. We asked Naomi whether, just as people begin tightening their wallets, she sees actors tightening their salaries for roles as well as a scaling back in big-budget Hollywood filmmaking.
“I don’t know about if they’re making too much across the board, but certainly, I’m doing a movie now where it’s the least I’ve been paid in about ten years maybe,” she replies, “And people are willing to go to work now for that, which ordinarily, I would think wouldn’t happen.”
“But I can’t see the film industry coming to a grinding halt anytime soon,” Watts continues, “I think we maybe more open to negotiations and things like that. But I think the art world tends to thrive in times of recession. We need these theaters and we need stories to be told and we need to take ourselves away from the reality of our situations of circumstance. So, well I don’t think it’s going to stop, but money’s going to be tight definitely.”