Naomi Watts Eastern Promises

Naomi Watts Eastern Promises
At the recent Toronto International Film Festival, Naomi Watts looked radiant, despite being up most of the night with her new six week old baby boy. She was at the festival to promote her new film Eastern Promises, directed by David Cronenberg in which sheplays a midwife who stumbles across the underground world of the Russian mafia in London. The film also stars Viggo Mortensen and Vincent Cassel. Gaynor Flynn sat down with the Aussie actress and talked about riding motorcycles, motherhood and how maybe its about time she did a comedy.

Gaynor Flynn: What do you think is the fascination with gangster/mobfilms?

Naomi Watts: Good guys, bad guys. I dont know. To me what wasinteresting was the whole Russian culture and notreally having much information on that. I didnt knowmuch about it and I dont think its really been seenin an English speaking movie before. Its sort of likethe Godfather but a whole other culture and thats whyit became interesting to me. Im not one who followsthe gangster stuff myself but to me it was just thestory and from my characters point of view and thesetwo worlds which were so different but also connectingand learning from one another thats what wasinteresting to me.

Gaynor Flynn: What was it about this character that appealed to you?

Naomi Watts: I wanted to make Anna dynamic because she startsoff in quite a depressed state and not much good hasbeen going on for her and she becomes alive and isenergised by her connection to this world that opensup and it just reawakens her spirit and to me that wasfun. And I wanted to make it truthful and accessiblefor the audience but dynamic as well.

Gaynor Flynn: At least youre not just the girlfriend or theaccessory?

Naomi Watts: Yeah thats always frightening.

Gaynor Flynn: Youve rarely been just the girl though. Youve madegreat choices.

Naomi Watts: Thank you but I have done support roles andprobably more lately than usual and people say oh youknow you shouldnt do too many support roles but Idont think theres anything wrong with that. If itsa great story and other great elements in the piecelike great actors youre working with and the directorobviously then its worth being in.

Gaynor Flynn: How did you prepare for your role?

Naomi Watts: Well really I was just reading up on mid-wifery,that was my main preparation and I had books andthings and I had met with a mid wife in America andthen also when I got to London I went to hospitals andsaw some live births, I saw a c-section which wasquite brutal and I did shifts with the mid wives andthat was very interesting and then of course the booksI was reading I found out three weeks after beingthere that I was pregnant, and although I was readingthem openly on the set, once I found out I had to hidethem as I didnt want anyone to know I was pregnant.(laughs).

Gaynor Flynn: Why wouldnt you want anyone to know youre pregnant?

Naomi Watts: Because you dont usually share that news withanyone until youre about 12 weeks. I did have to tellthem in the very end really because I didnt want todo any more motorbike riding. I did most of it butthere were two days left and Id never ridden amotorbike before. And I did the scene where Viggo[Mortensen] is on the back with me, thats all me. Ithink the bravest person was him because he had nohelmet on and he was not even padded up and I was likeare you sure Viggo? And you know its on wet roads andin traffic and people watching, it was tough.

Gaynor Flynn: The story behind this film, the trade in young girlsis quite shocking. Did you know much about it? Was itan eye opener?

Naomi Watts: It was an eye opener. I mean you know about it butyou discover whats going on and its shocking and ithappens in very normal places, not just in weird partsof the world. Its frightening.

Gaynor Flynn: Do you think your choices will change now that yourea mum?

Naomi Watts: Well Im new to it. Already Ive taken a movie andby the time I start working my son will be three and ahalf months old. So its probably sooner than I wouldhave liked but its a five week schedule so it seemeddoable and its a great story and its a great team ofpeople again so yeah.

Gaynor Flynn: More juggling...

Naomi Watts: Yeah I think your decisions are going to be mademore carefully and also balancing those with Liev aswell and where are we going to be and for how long. But in terms of the content I dont want to suddenlygo oh my taste has changed and I have to do kidsmovies. I dont think so.

Gaynor Flynn: Or just horror movies from now on...

Naomi Watts: (laughs) Well I seem to be there anyway.

Gaynor Flynn: How are you keeping up your energy here?

Naomi Watts: Well Im not going to any of the parties and whenthe day of work is done Im done. I have managed toget a shorter schedule because people are sympatheticand I go off to have my little breaks for feeding andI get to bed early.

Gaynor Flynn: You mentioned that you did the motor bike ridingstunts, are you normally that kind of actress?

Naomi Watts: No Im not actually. Im happy to do stunts ifthey feel safe and not if they dont. But it reallymeant a lot to David (Cronenberg) for me to do thisand I think because hes a mad motor biker personhimself and we all like to impress our directors Isuppose and I actually found it quite fun. I had oneday on a trainer motor bike and I got up straight awayand the next day I did with the urail and I did fineas well. Im not someone who likes danger but Im asporty person I suppose and the fact that I could doit and it didnt make me scared I thought yeah give ita go. But then the first day of filming after doingonly those two days of practice we shot on wet roadsin amongst traffic and there was about 200 peoplestanding by and watching as well as paparazzi so itwas incredibly scary. But I never managed to fall offso that was good.

Gaynor Flynn: Is it getting more difficult to pick and choose whatto do and what not to do these days?

Naomi Watts: Not really I think the directors are the ones whoguide me really. I mean Ive got a film I did justbefore this one called Funny Games with a directorcalled Michael Haneke and its a remake and when I sawthe original it really does freak you out but it stayswith you and some people may say why did you make thisfilm because it is so dark and intense but once Ispoke to Michael and the reason I wanted to speak withMichael is because hes made other great films that Ilove and have affected me deeply. I heard what he wastrying to do and the message he was trying to put outthere so that got me excited, so the directors becomeyour teachers, they inspire you they push you and theyexcite you.

Gaynor Flynn: Actually speaking about dark and freaky, that remindsme of 21 Grams and Cronenberg. Youve done a fewfreaky films now, what about a comedy?

Naomi Watts: Yeah I know people ask me that. Id like to find acomedy. The ones that have come to me have notinterested me. And I think theyre much easier to messup, or at least the romantic comedy per se. I likesomething a bit more off beat, David Russell with IHeart Huckabees, I would love to work with WesAnderson, those comedies interest me much more.

Gaynor Flynn: Many say that Cronenberg is very hands off, so whatdid you learn from him?

Naomi Watts: Well first of all that hes very well versed atwhat he does. There were no shot lists and no oh letsexperiment and lets try it this way or that way. Itwas just very specific, oh it wasnt specific Ishouldnt say that, it was very clear what he wasdoing. Most of the time he would just say lets try itand okay lets go again and he knew what he wanted andI guess he got what he wanted and there were only acouple times when we did more than a few takes. Hejust felt very prepared and very unfazed. A lot ofdirectors are so attached and intense and want to tryit several different ways and scared they might misssomething. Hes very confident and that just instilsconfidence down the line really. Thats somethinggood about working with directors who have been doingit for a long time they move quickly.

Gaynor Flynn: When do you start shooting your next film TheInternational?

Naomi Watts: Im shooting in November.

Gaynor Flynn: So are you having a rest now?

Naomi Watts: Well not much of a rest but yeah just family stuffand focusing on that right now.

Eastern Promises

Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Director: David Cronenberg


Copyright © 2001 -, a Company - All rights reserved.