"You must be tired? – Naomi Watts is sympathetically interested, sitting in her chair in the offered terrace unnamed Venetian villa overlooking the bay. “Yeah, I am tired,” she admits. It was in September when an international film festival was ending at Lido and the actress was finally able to make time for our conversation. She speaks softly, smiles affectionately, periodically correcting a naughty curl and sipping mineral water from a tall glass. She is dressed simply: a long skirt and a blouse in pastel colours, a free cut. She surprised us by her openness – she is not even embarrassed by very personal questions, from which others sometimes start to run their eyes in search of their agent, they nervously cast a glance at their watches or invent something hastily in order to quickly end the conversation. Without looking away or changing intonation, she answers our questions.
Where did you go on holiday this summer?
Didn’t rest at all, we shoot the movie “Penguin Bloom”, so I spent my summer travelling. The film is about a woman named Sam, who experienced a serious accident. But after she finds a tiny wounded bird and nurses her, my heroine’s views on life, death and suffering change enormously. All in all, it is a film about a bird that saves an entire family. I play the main character, and also act as a producer – for some time now I began to do this. I must say, the role was rather difficult: playing a woman who suffers from pain, depression and even wants to commit a suicide – so the task was not easy! When the trouble hits, Sam starts to question her life: “How am I supposed to live? How to re-create myself?” I think it would not hurt anyone to think about this from time to time, even without any special reason. I hope that this story will touch people's hearts. And I would be very happy if this story helped to change somebody’s life in a better direction.
Are there any similarities between you and your heroines?
My characters are completely unlike me. I specifically choose such heroines, so it’s more interesting for me to play – I’m kind of checking: what am I capable of, what would I do in a similar situation, would I do the same? In the process of filming, I begin to get to know myself better. For example, playing Linda in the movie Real Rocky, I realized how different I am from women like her. I managed to get to know her in life.
Why do you think you are so different?
Linda is a very bright woman, when she comes in all attention is focused on her. She is energetic, talkative and confident, speaks loudly, jokes a lot, and her jokes, how to say... politically incorrect – I would die with shame, saying such things to people in the face! In addition, Linda wears too short, tight-fitting dresses, in addition, I can’t imagine animal-printed clothes – as you can see, we are the exact opposite! The most curious thing, Linda told me herself, is that she has been married for thirty years and her chosen one has never seen her without makeup! That is, she every morning manages to get up before her spouse to put herself in order. A woman like Linda can conquer any man! I can only dream about it.
How can she achieve it?
I think these women are no different from us. It’s just that they always appear in the right place and at the very time when the man is ready to listen to them.
What type of women do you consider yourself to be?
To the opposite. By nature, I’m timid, fearful, though sometimes I can take courage and show determination. Apparently, I belong to the type of women whom men find too complex. But I myself like people in complexity and diversity.
For roles, you often have to go on a diet, exercise a lot. They say in order to play the wife of a boxer, you even went in for boxing. Is it right?
Yes, I did. Having learned that I have to act in films about this sport, I asked the coach to teach me some lessons. Boxing is completely not for me, but this does not mean that I do not enjoy watching sports. Boxing is completely not for me, but this does not mean that I do not enjoy watching sports. My elder brother loves boxing and other sports, but I like watching that passion, from which men suffer and athletes aspire to victory! On the other hand, I do not fully understand the men with their crazy fanaticism regarding sports. Perhaps this is because I like more relaxed activities – for example, yoga, stretching exercises, aerobics in the spirit of Jane Fonda... In my youth I danced a lot, and now I prefer walking and jogging.
What were the most difficult trainings you had to go through while preparing for the role?
The most difficult thing was to prepare for the “Games without rules for this role I was trained in the program for CIA agents. Only a few days, but I will never forget how I had to set fire, blow up something and jump from above, besides the lessons of oriental wrestling, running, including from pursuers! And the worst thing was the training, when I was suddenly attacked in the dark.
Many actresses are concerned that with age it becomes more difficult for them to play active and sexually attractive women. What do you think about this?
Yes, I know about these stereotypes and really hope that I can resist the general rules. I may not be that naive girl as I was at an early age, but this does not mean that there can no longer be sexual moments in my life. The longer we live, the deeper and more complex we become – shouldn't this attract the audience, shouldn't good films show the versatility of a woman, the complexity of her character? In addition, each age has its own advantages. Now, for example, it is much easier for me to play attractive rich.
How to determine when the game ends and the actor begins to behave naturally?
It is difficult if you do not know the person. But my mother does it very well. When she comes to my shooting, she instantly determines whether my game is up to par or I look unnatural. To be honest, I'm not always happy to see her on the set, but sometimes her arrival really helps to achieve a better game. The main thing is that it makes me nervous, which means that my profession has not turned into a routine for me: I still take her seriously, and I still care about the opinions of others.
Glory came to you unexpectedly and quite late. Were you ready for her?
It’s impossible to prepare for popularity, but it seems to me that the later it arrives, the better. Although I know several actresses of the young generation, to whom fame came as a teenager, and they cope with it perfectly. The biggest drawback of popularity is that everyone tells you that you are beautiful and do everything wonderful. This spoils the actor: he begins to lose touch with reality, ceases to see the truth, makes wrong decisions... I think, had fame come to me too soon, I would have done a lot of stupid things.
Well, for example, I would start playing stupid girls in stupid films and would also lose touch with life.
Instead, you started acting with David Lynch...
I was very lucky that I met David Lynch on my way and that he chose me, it changed my whole life. He became my mentor and friend. His films are so magnificent that they still serve as a topic of discussion. By the way, when we became close friends, I asked him a question: “Why did you choose me?” He replied: "Because when you first looked into my eyes, I realized that this was the look of a real person."
Did you meet father of your children Liev Schreiber on the set?
No, although we starred in several films together. Our first meeting was not on the set. I think that we were brought together by the fact that we were very similar – both actors who adore their profession. After parting, we managed to maintain respect and love for each other - for the sake of our sons. Strange, but I always knew that I would have sons. Our children have both parents actors, but always one of us is at home to put them to bed. Of course, working parents have less time for children. However, the busier I am, the more quality time I try to spend with my children. This means that when I am with them, I do not sit and leaf through magazines while they play, but play with them. You know, many working mothers live with guilt for not spending much time with their children. In this regard, the acting profession is not so bad – at least, you can combine it with the role of the mother. Last year, I starred in several projects, for which I was on the road for no more than two weeks. But for six months spent almost without shooting, and I had enough family time. But my girlfriend spends 12 hours in the office and sees her daughter only two hours a day.
Tell us about the family in which you grew up, about your parents.
We did not have a very large family: mother, older brother and myself. My father died when I was a child. Therefore, I had no idea what a man should be like, the head of the family... I remember very vaguely the period when parents lived together.I know that when they met, my mother was a model, and my father worked as a sound engineer for Pink Floyd. Looking at photographs of my parents of that time, where both have lush hair on their heads and their bodies are barely covered with clothes, I recall that for me as a baby, they were the coolest in the world, cooler than those who went to the office and wore expensive suits. We lived a very eventful, full of adventure, constantly moving. I had to change about ten schools, and every time I came to a new team, I had to adapt again. I kept asking myself: «How do I become a member of this group? What can I do to make them accept me?”... I think that's why it took me so long to become an actress. After all, at the auditions I always tried to make friends, to be like someone else, but first of all I had to ask myself: “Who are you and who do you want to be?” My mother loved to surround herself with people, and in our family there was always complete matriarchy. Not only my mother, but also my grandmother, me and my brother were raised by my grandmother who was a strong woman. Strong people have one thing in common: they are not afraid to tell the truth. Since childhood, I do not perceive false relationships, deception. I hate parents constantly lying to children: “You are doing so well! You do everything just wonderful!” I do not understand this attitude. I believe that children should be praised, but only when they deserve it.
Do you have a lot of friends?
Quite a lot, and it so happened that many of them became popular – for example, Nicole Kidman. It seems to me that the era has come when women are not only friends on a personal level, but also especially strongly support each other in work. I am glad that we are starting to help each other and that today our voices are being listened to.
You are a British citizen, but your film debut took place in Australia...
My grandfather was from Wales, my grandmother was an Australian. While grandfather was alive, the family lived in the UK, where we had a beautiful mansion. When he was gone, they moved to Australia. I still feel a spiritual connection with these two regions.
Finally, please tell us: how can a woman maintain youth and beauty?
My mother always said: "If you start growing up, you will sleep less." And so I reached a certain age, but still love to sleep and feel just awful if I can’t sleep eight to nine hours a day. So I don’t advise anything particularly original to you... But if you ask this question to David Lynch, he will surely say that you need to meditate more.
Interview by Tatiana Rosenstein
Photo: press materials
The material was published in the 67th issue.