celebrity How to make Naomi Watts smile.

A ca­sual catch-up with Aussie su­per­star Naomi Watts.

ELLE (Canada) - - #Storyboard - By Sarah Laing

There are two things you no­tice

about Naomi Watts when she walks into a room. First, her eyes are so, so blue—like “nice try, Tif­fany and the wa­ters of the Ba­hamas, but we’ve got this colour on lock” blue. Sec­ond, you might say that the 47-year-old ac­tress car­ries her­self with poise (if that didn’t sound so stuffy) and el­e­gance (if that didn’t sound so chilly). Watts has a com­port­ment that makes brows­ing the tea se­lec­tion on a cater­ing ta­ble look re­fined and a way of sit­ting up straight in her chair that in­stantly el­e­vates the rather bland ho­tel room turned in­ter­view space in which we cur­rently find our­selves dur­ing the Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val (TIFF).

All this could make the Bri­tish-born Aussie seem unap­proach­able, but the op­po­site is true. She’s gen­er­ous with her laugh­ter, and while she isn’t ex­actly shy (she’s too con­fi­dent for that), there’s a cer­tain re­serve about her that comes when a nat­u­rally in­tro­verted per­son be­comes the cen­tre of at­ten­tion.

“It will never be a re­laxed ex­pe­ri­ence for me,” says Watts of at­tend­ing film fes­ti­vals like TIFF, where she’s pre­mier­ing two films, De­mo­li­tion and About Ray. “Watch­ing a film with an au­di­ence is scary be­cause you’ve put in so much work. But then it’s also a way to fi­nally be ob­jec­tive. I get to watch the au­di­ence watch­ing the film, so I ex­pe­ri­ence it in a new way.”

Al­though Watts worked steadily as an ac­tress through­out her 20s, her ca­reer only started tak­ing off when she was in her early 30s, with cult clas­sics like Mulholland Drive in 1999 and The Ring in 2002. “I got recog­ni­tion late—I was in the last days of play­ing an in­genue. Al­most straight af­ter Mulholland Drive, I was play­ing moth­ers! But the longer the life, the richer it gets, and hope­fully the roles I’ve taken re­flect that.”

But more than 15 years af­ter her “break­out” mo­ment, find­ing great fe­male-driven sto­ries is still a rar­ity. “Un­for­tu­nately, there are too few, which makes no sense be­cause there are as many women in the world,” she says. “And why shouldn’t we be telling th­ese sto­ries? They’re just as in­ter­est­ing.” The Os­car-nom­i­nated ac­tress should know: In the past five years, she has played an un­der­cover CIA op­er­a­tive ( Fair Game, 2010), a mother strug­gling to re­unite her fam­ily af­ter the 2004 tsunami in Thai­land ( The Im­pos­si­ble, 2011) and a Florida con­ve­nience-store clerk deal­ing with an un­planned preg­nancy ( Sun­light Jr., 2014). She’s in the midst of a tran­si­tion, though, and has been ex­plor­ing the fun­nier side of her cre­ative wheel­house re­cently with two come­dies (al­beit dark ones): St. Vin­cent and the Os­car-win­ning Bird­man. “I had to change it up, show an­other colour, par­tic­u­larly on the heels of two very dark movies like The Im­pos­si­ble and the [Princess] Diana movie,” says Watts with a laugh. “I just wanted to not al­ways play the woman who is in pain or hav­ing a ner­vous break­down!”

Do­ing two lighter films has given the ac­tress a “lit­tle bit of con­fi­dence” when it comes to her comedic skills, which is why she’d love her next film to be

one— an an­i­mated but, she adds in true Watts style, “some­thing with a bit more arch would be more in­ter­est­ing to me than a safe, sweet fam­ily movie.” (Watts did say she has some voices up her sleeve but re­fused to do any on re­quest. Un­der­stand­ably.)

Part of the rea­son she wants to do an an­i­mated film is so her chil­dren can enjoy it. And through­out our con­ver­sa­tion, it’s clear that her two sons, aged eight and seven, along with her part­ner, ac­tor Liev Schreiber, are what really make her world go round. “I try to live my life as a nor­mal per­son would, even though it’s not nor­mal to have pa­parazzi fol­low you about,” she says. “I’m not go­ing to have my kid get a late note [at school] be­cause I had to spend an ex­tra 20 min­utes blow-dry­ing my hair!”

When talk­ing about her fam­ily, Watts’ face lights up. Even when she was ap­proached by L’Oréal Paris late last year to be a brand spokesper­son, it was her fam­ily that came to mind first. “I thought, ‘Oh, this is go­ing to be easy—I know how to sell a L’Oréal prod­uct like El­nett.’ I have im­ages of my grand­mother spray­ing this plume of it around her head, set­ting her ’do in rollers,” she says, smil­ing.

She laughs when talk­ing about Schreiber, who pokes fun at “how English” she and her mom get when they’re in Eng­land. “He al­ways says my ac­cent changes de­pend­ing on whom I’m with—and he’s prob­a­bly right!” Her most un­guarded mo­ment comes when she’s asked what she would do on a per­fect day, free of the re­stric­tions of time, space and re­al­ity. “I’d go up on a magic car­pet with Liev and my chil­dren. We’d be up in the clouds, hav­ing a very nice pic­nic!” n

Watts is the face of L’Oréal Paris’ Re­vi­talift line. Re­vi­talift Vol­ume Filler Pro­gres­sive

Revo­lu­miz­ing Day Cream ($36, at drug­stores and mass-mar­ket re­tail­ers)

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