Naomi Watts stars as two very different women in vastly different story lines, one currently on Netflix in the series Gypsy, in which she plays a therapist whose reality and fantasy lives collide. She also stars in the upcoming feature film, The Glass Castle, as the long-suffering wife of an alcoholic (Woody Harrelson).
Watts, 48, has recently separated from her long-term boyfriend, Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan) with whom she is co-parenting two sons.
Your role in Gypsy is unusual. She seems to have the perfect life, a great marriage, an adorable kid, fantastic career…..
Why does she want to ruin it? (laughs)
Well I think that was the point, is that why is that not enough? It’s interesting. Last night I was at a dinner that Gwyneth Paltrow was hosting with Esther Perel and she spoke of how sometimes people have affairs, not because something is missing in their lives or in their relationship or even themselves, it’s just that sometimes they want to push the boundaries or try out new experiences. I was drawn to the project because it felt like a cautionary tale.
In what way?
Well, we all live with human desire and we all have fantasies but do we need to act on those? And I liked it because in Gypsy, Jean is doing that for us. We can sit back in the comfort and safety of our own homes and watch her be self-destructive and we can stay with those fantasies and let her do all the work for us. But I get it, she doesn’t make the best choices, but she is just pushing boundaries, she is not pushing people in front of trains. (laughs) And it happens, and I think that there are a lot of stories told in the same way or in a similar way through a male point of view. It’s rarer to see it told from a female point of view.
And also, The Glass Castle was a wonderful film. Can you talk a little about that?
Yeah, I feel that this story universal and endlessly fascinating because we all know what it is to be part of a family, whether it’s the family we have been born into, or created, and the struggles that come within that context. I loved the movie.
I have just finished a film called “Ophelia” which is the female telling of Hamlet, which I think is very timely.
You’ve been friends with Nicole Kidman for a long time. Do you see her very much?
We’re both very busy but we pick up where we left off. We have been through a lot together and there is a great history that binds our friendship. I adore her. I am going to get to see her next week, thankfully.
Have you been to her Nashville home?
Yes I have, just once though.
You’ve been lucky that even in the films you’ve been in which may have received negative reviews, you’ve always come out unscathed. Critics really respect you.
Thank you, that’s really kind. I am sure I have taken a beating here and there, but that’s very kind of you to say that. It feels good. I think you always set out with the best intentions. Sometimes there is risk involved, whether it’s working with a new filmmaker or you are not sure that the story is going to resonate with an audience, but you are so attached to this role and the idea that playing her is going to add something to your life, and yeah, you always hope for the best and you put blood, sweat and tears into it. It’s really sad and hurtful when the critics attack a piece, because like I said, you put all that time and effort into it, and sometimes it’s not always about the fact that it’s a bad film, it’s just that maybe the audiences aren’t ready for it, or critics are maybe not experiencing it in the same way that audiences do. I was quite shocked with “Book of Henry” because I thought we had had these incredible testing screenings, and the audiences had rated it extremely high and in the high 90s. And it was really shocking to everyone when the reviews attacked it.
In The Glass Castle, she’s a bit of a hoarder. Do you have any experience with that?
I identify with that, yes. I was raised by my grandmother for quite a few years and she lived through the war and nothing would get thrown out. So you would open the cupboards and out would spill margarine containers with holes in them. But yet she felt she had to keep them so it would have some important meaning later. (laughs)
What do you to do relax?
I do yoga, that is definitely my go-to workout. Definitely not every day, but I try to do it three times a week.
What does it mean to you?
I just love the fact that my body has changed over time. I can’t deal with high impact workouts anymore, but there is something about yoga that I have always come back to and it’s very relaxing and the stretching aspect, the balancing, moving in different directions and feeling centered at the same time. It’s good.