View Comments
Picture: Reuters

At a time when Naomi Watts appears in a veritable tsunami of films, most significantly The Impossible, for which she has just been nominated for a best actress Oscar, her 2010 film, Woody Allen's You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger is finally making it to Australian cinemas.

Back in 2010 she was also making a few ripples with her astounding real-life portrayal as CIA operative Valerie Plame in Fair Game. The 44-year-old is now wowing the world with recently released photos of her portrayal of Princess Diana in Oliver Hirschbiegel's simply titled Diana.

Is it something to do with coming out of hibernation after having kids and now suddenly everyone wants to cast her in their movie?

"I don't know," Watts responds with a smile. "I know you go away and just when you think you are out of sight, out of mind, and then . . . I guess I just got a lucky break. I did worry for a little while but I was so absorbed with my children that it was like 'OK, this is what I am doing now', and then I got back into it and I was suddenly nervous as it had been so long in between drinks. I thought 'Can I remember how to do this?' So it was scary, but I've had a good run."

Watts is in a happy relationship with New York actor Liev Schreiber (memorable as ocker shark hunter Trev in Mental) with whom she has two sons Sasha, 5, and Kai, 4. The couple are not about to get married.

"We're very much together and don't need the certificate," she says. To his credit Schreiber has put his career on hold a little in order for Watts to have her moment.

"I can't go off and do a four-month movie if Naomi's got a four-month movie lined up," he told me during his recent press rounds for Mira Nair's The Reluctant Fundamentalist. When Watts filmed The Impossible he ventured to Thailand so the family could be together. He even taught his partner to surf. "She wasn't bad, she's got good balance," he notes.

Watts: "Any relationship takes work and you have to be conscious of other people's needs. Communication is key. We have kids and we have careers and there is a lot to work out, but we get through it."

Indeed the couple are very happy. They aren't averse to working together, though for the moment it's impractical. In the meantime they help each other out with their roles.

"We talk about things a lot," Schreiber says. "We read each other's stuff." Interestingly he has just worked with Woody Allen too on Fading Gigolo, where Allen only acts, playing a pimp to director John Turturro's gigolo. "It's going to be hilarious," Schreiber says of the film.

Watts had long wanted to work with Allen. "We had tried before and it had never worked out," she recalls. "But I was determined it would happen this time."

In You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, the actress, who was born in England before moving to Australia at the age of 14, adopts an English accent, even if her failed writer husband (played by Josh Brolin) is American. Her foolish father has left her mother for a gold-digging prostitute and all the characters are basically too self-involved to sustain a happy relationship. The film is darker than Allen's frothier recent efforts and reflects his basically grim view.

"I think he has grim beliefs, as we all do, and we try to contain them," Watts says. "But I think it is funny to hear them out loud and so categorically from him. That is where all his jokes are born, out of his misery and it's great. It's an endless source of entertainment. It's funny, it's dramatic and it's everything. But look at his life. Do you really think he is that miserable? He has got a few things to be happy about."

So too has Watts, given her Oscar nomination for The Impossible. Still, during the filming of this five-hankie disaster movie she wasn't so sure. In fact she admits that, at times, portraying the real life Spanish Maria Belon as she tried to protect her family as they were inundated by the 2004 tsunami, was terrifying.

"A lot of it wasn't acting, because you're literally being sucked under, and I was genuinely gasping for air," Watts told Britain's Independent newspaper, recalling her terror at being locked into a device which spun her around. "I couldn't get out, and I thought 'Oh God, they can't stop it!'"

Watts also had to shoot the tsunami sequence while fighting a chest cold. "But every time I got to the point of complaining, I'd remember this is nothing compared to what the real people went through."