Watts took fam­ily on ‘bloody’ film shoot

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Ryan Pear­son

LOS AN­GE­LES — To play a mother torn from her hus­band and sons by the 2004 tsunami, Naomi Watts sure wasn’t go­ing Method.

The Bri­tish ac­tress took her part­ner Liev Schreiber and two sons to the Thai­land set of The Im­pos­si­ble, where Span­ish di­rec­tor Juan An­to­nio Bay­ona recre­ated the jaw-drop­ping de­struc­tion in a re­sort area.

She talked through the story with Sasha, 5, and Kai, 4, to get them used to see­ing their mother cough­ing up blood with a heav­ily bruised face and deep gashes across her body.

“Yeah, it’s not the best way to see mommy, is it?” Watts laughs in an in­ter­view. “They came first time on a day where I had min­i­mal wounds — noth­ing too much. ... And then by the third day they came, they were putting the choco­late pow­der all over me and paint­ing some wounds on them­selves and me. So they un­der­stood it.

“I know it’s not com­pletely nor­mal. But this is the life that ac­tors live. And we are play­ing dress-up some of the time.”

In an al­ready crit­i­cally ac­claimed per­for­mance, Watts por­trays real-life Span­ish doc­tor Maria Belon, who was swept away by the rush of water with her el­dest son and treated in a Thai hospi­tal un­til she was re­united with her two younger sons and hus­band, played by Ewan McGre­gor.

The In­dian Ocean earth­quake and re­sult­ing tsunamis on the day af­ter Christ­mas killed more than 200,000 peo­ple across South­east Asia. But The Im­pos­si­ble— which opened Fri­day in the U.S. af­ter top­ping the box of­fice in Spain — is a dis­as­ter movie that nar­rows its fo­cus to one fam­ily’s sur­vival.

“That makes us un­der­stand a lot more about it than we could oth­er­wise. Be­cause it’s too mind-blow­ing to get your head around,” McGre­gor said. “The death count was so high, the dev­as­ta­tion was so huge.”

Watts, 44, says the role was among her most chal­leng­ing ever, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally, with the added layer of try­ing to tact­fully con­vey a hor­rific re­al­ity. Belon has joined Watts and the film­mak­ers at pre­mieres.

“It was a great pres­sure and re­spon­si­bil­ity to get it right be­cause of what she went through and how much she suf­fered,” Watts says of Belon. “And then on top of her story, it was hun­dreds of thou­sands of oth­ers.”

The As­so­ci­ated Press re­view praised Watts for her “vivid, deeply com­mit­ted per­for­mance” and she has been nom­i­nated for a Golden Globe award. Web­site Gold Derby, which sur­veys mul­ti­ple awards ob­servers, lists her among the top five Os­car con­tenders in the best ac­tress race. Her bedrid­den char­ac­ter barely moves her body through the ma­jor­ity of the film and croaks out words painfully.

Watts said Bay­ona of­ten went through scenes with the di­a­logue in the script, then reshot the same scene with­out words, us­ing the lat­ter in the fi­nal edit. Teen dancer-turned-ac­tor Tom Hol­land, who stars as the el­dest son, said that was prob­a­bly for the best.

In char­ac­ter, “she had this voice, and it was really, really gen­uinely ter­ri­fy­ing,” Hol­land said. “The first time I heard it, I was like ’Wow, there’s some­thing not quite right here. What’s go­ing on?”’

McGre­gor, whose char­ac­ter is not in­jured as badly, says he was sim­i­larly im­pressed by his co-star.

“For 85 per cent of the movie, she’s really badly in­jured, fear­ful for her life and the safety of her hus­band and her other two sons, an­tic­i­pat­ing the fact that she might be dy­ing,” he said. “There’s never a sense of that be­ing on one note. I’ve talked to her about it. I said, it’s an ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment that you man­aged to weave such va­ri­ety into it and take us on this huge jour­ney.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.