Naomi Watts's Biography
Naomi Ellen Watts (born 28 September 1968) is a British-born, Australian raised actress. Watts began her career in Australian television, where she appeared in commercials and series, including the soap opera Home and Away, Brides of Christ and the family sitcom Hey Dad..!.
She is known for her roles in films such as Mulholland Drive (2001), The Ring (2002) and 21 Grams (2003), for which she received worldwide attention and an Academy Award nomination. She has also starred in King Kong (2005), Eastern Promises (2007), and The International (2009).
Watts was born in Shoreham, Kent, England, the daughter of Myfanwy Edwards (née Roberts), a Welsh antiques dealer and costume and set designer, and Peter Watts, a road manager and sound engineer who worked with Pink Floyd.
Watts has one brother, Ben, a year older and now a photographer residing in the United States. Watts's parents separated when she was four years old, and her father died during her childhood.
Following her father's death, her mother moved the family to Llanfawr Farm, on Anglesey in North Wales, where they lived with Watts's maternal grandparents, Nikki and Hugh Roberts. During this time she attended a Welsh language school, Ysgol Gyfun, Llangefni where she carried out her studies for several years.
Watts described her mother (also an actress) as a hippie "with passive-aggressive tendencies" and no money, who used to threaten to send her and her brother to foster care in order to get her parents to provide for them.
Although her mother occasionally moved the family around Wales and England, usually to follow boyfriends, she always ended up returning to Llangefni, living there until Naomi was 14. Watts says that she wanted to become an actress since watching the 1980 film Fame.
In 1982, the family moved to Sydney, Australia. Her grandmother was Australian, which made it easier to obtain the documentation necessary, since Watts and her family were entitled to Australian citizenship.
Of her nationality, she has said: "I consider myself British and have very happy memories of the UK. I spent the first 14 years of my life in England and Wales and never wanted to leave. When I was in Australia I went back to England a lot".
"I consider myself very Australian and very connected to Australia, in fact when people say where is home, I say Australia, because those are my most powerful memories".
After moving to Sydney, she attended Mosman High School. She attended several schools, including North Sydney Girls' High School, where her classmates included Nicole Kidman, with whom she is still close.
In 1986 she took a break from acting and went to Japan to work as a model, but the experience, which lasted for about four months, was fruitless as Watts did not have the physical requirements for a professional runway model and could only hope to be working in promotions, which did not excite her.
Watts describes it as one of the worst periods of her life. Upon returning to Australia, she went to work for a local department store and from there she went to work as assistant fashion editor with an Australian fashion magazine.
A casual invitation to participate in a drama workshop rekindled her passion for acting, and prompted her to quit her job and dedicate herself to succeeding as an actress.
Early work (1986–2000)
Watts's career began in Australian television, where she appeared in commercials and series, including the soap opera Home and Away, the award winning mini-series Brides of Christ and the family sitcom Hey Dad..!
She was featured in a supporting role in the acclaimed 1991 Australian indie film Flirting, starring future Hollywood up-and-comers Nicole Kidman and Thandie Newton. As Watts made the transition from Australia to the United States, she landed a supporting role in the cult 1995 film Tank Girl, playing the part of "Jet Girl".
Finding quality roles in the Hollywood system at first proved difficult. She appeared in the short-lived series, Sleepwalkers and numerous B-list productions such as films like Children of the Corn IV.
Much of her early career is filled with near misses in casting as she was up for significant roles in films such as The Parent Trap, Meet the Parents and Man on the Moon, roles would eventually go to other actresses. Gradually, Watts attracted supporting roles in films such as Dangerous Beauty.
In 2001, she starred in The Shaft directed by Dick Maas, which garnered poor reviews. Watts starred in David Lynch's highly acclaimed Mulholland Drive. The film premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, winning her the National Society of Film Critics Award as Best Actress and the National Board of Review award as Breakthrough Performance of the Year. The surrealist film attracted controversy with its strong lesbian theme.
Having worked with director/screenwriter Scott Coffey on Mulholland Drive, they teamed up to co-produce her next film, the semi-autobiographical Ellie Parker, which grew out of the friendship forged between Watts and Coffey.
In 2002, she starred in one of the biggest box office hits of that year, the English language remake of the Japanese horror film The Ring. The following year, she starred in the film Ned Kelly opposite Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush, as well as the Merchant-Ivory film Le Divorce with Kate Hudson.
Her performance opposite Sean Penn and Benicio del Toro in director Alejandro González Iñárritu's 21 Grams earned Watts her first Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. She said of the nomination, "It's far beyond what I ever dreamed for - that would have been too far fetched".
She produced and starred in the well-received independent film We Don't Live Here Anymore. She reunited with Sean Penn and Don Cheadle in The Assassination of Richard Nixon, teamed up with Jude Law and Dustin Hoffman in David O. Russell's ensemble comedy I ♥ Huckabees, and starred in the sequel to the Ring, The Ring Two.
Career success (2005–present)
She then starred in the much-anticipated remake of King Kong (2005) as Ann Darrow. The role, immortalized by Fay Wray in the original film, proved to be Watts's most commercially successful film yet. Helmed by The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson, the film won high praise and grossed $550 million worldwide.
... you’d better know why you’re here as an actor ... I’m here to work out my shit, what my problems are and know who I am, so by cracking open these characters perhaps that shines a light on it a little bit better.
Watts starred in The Painted Veil with Edward Norton and Liev Schreiber, released in December 2006. She has since finished the films Funny Games (a remake of the 1997 Austrian film by director Michael Haneke) with Tim Roth, and David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortensen.
The press has labeled her the "queen of remakes" because she has starred in so many of them; she is scheduled to star in the remake of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963). Watts has stated only that there have been "discussions" about the remake.
In January 2010, she was cast for the thriller film Dream House, which will be directed by Jim Sheridan. She also appears in the drama Mother and Child, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival.
Income and status
Watts is, according to Forbes, one of the most cost-efficient actresses when comparing salary paid with box-office gross. She helped the box office rake in an estimated $44 for every $1 she was paid for her last three major films.
Watts was most successful with King Kong (2005), which grossed in its first weekend at U.S. $50,130,145, for which she received $5 million (USD).
In 2006, Watts became a goodwill ambassador for UNAIDS, it helps to raise awareness of AIDS issues. She has used her high profile and celebrity to call attention to the needs of people living with this disease.
Watts participates in events and activities, including the 21st Annual AIDS Walk. She is presented as an inaugural member of AIDS Red Ribbon Awards. She has participated in campaigns for fundraising.
On December 1, 2009, Watts was meeting with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and joined the AIDS response at a dramatic public event commemorating World AIDS Day 2009. During the event, she said:
“It has been both unfortunate and unfair for HIV infection to be considered a shameful disease, for people living with HIV to be judged as blameworthy, and for AIDS to be equated with certain death. I have personally seen that dignity and hope have been strongest among those whose lives were changed by HIV.”
Her father's manic laugh can be heard in Pink Floyd's "Speak to Me" and "Brain Damage" and her mother's comments can be heard in "The Great Gig in the Sky" and "Money" from The Dark Side of the Moon.
Watts is pictured in her mother's arms with her father, brother, the band, and other crew members, in the hardback/softcover edition of drummer Nick Mason's autobiography of the band Inside Out.
Watts dated Stephen Hopkins in the 1990s and actor Heath Ledger from August 2002 to May 2004. Since the spring of 2005, Watts's partner has been the actor Liev Schreiber. She confirmed in an interview in late January 2009 that Liev had in fact given her a ring (which she was not wearing at the time) but that neither of them wanted to rush into marriage.
This would confirm that they are engaged but had no serious plans for marriage at the time. Liev, known to play tricks on the media, had once before called her as such in 2007, but later revealed that it was all a joke.
Since there has been no proof given other than Liev's word in the video, it is unclear as to whether or not he is telling the truth or simply playing another joke.
The couple's first son, Alexander "Sasha" Pete, was born on 25 July 2007 in Los Angeles, and their second son, Samuel "Sammy" Kai, on 13 December 2008 in New York City.
After a temporary hiatus from acting, she returned to work with The International, her first project since becoming a mother. Watts stated in April 2010 that she would have a third child if she could guarantee a baby girl.
Watts is a close friend of Benicio del Toro, with whom she co-starred in 21 Grams. Watts is friends with actress Isla Fisher, and is godmother to The Mentalist's Simon Baker's oldest daughter, Stella.
She is also best friends with fellow Australian actress Nicole Kidman, after having met when they were in their teens during an audition. Watts even moved in with Kidman for a time as nanny to the children of Kidman and her then husband Tom Cruise when Watts's own career had yet to gain commercial success.
After filming The Painted Veil, she became attracted to Buddhism, claiming, "I have some belief but I am not a strict Buddhist or anything yet. There was a lot of excitement and energy there."
On March 25, 2010, she was voted one of the Twenty People Who've Gotten More Attractive with Age by Nerve.