The Impossible - Naomi Watts DVD interview
Compiled by Jack Foley
NAOMI Watts talks about some of the many challenges – both mental and physical – of making tsunami drama The Impossible and working with real-life survivor Maria.
Q. It must have been very difficult to shoot all those scenes in the water?
Naomi Watts: Yes. It was difficult. It was very well worked out and tested and I watched the first time we got to the water with a stunt person and then we did it bit by bit. I think the first time I went into the apparatus we used, without the wave machine, that felt like fun. But then bit by bit they kept on adding an effect of some sort and until finally it was really happening and I think I had about four or five lines of dialogue before suddenly there was no dialogue. I could not do any speaking! Because every time you open your mouth you are swallowing loads and loads of water. And so I think ‘Lucas’ was my line of dialogue for the first month. ‘Lucas!’ That was pretty much it — it was all I get out! The reputation of water being difficult to shoot with is absolutely true and this was much more difficult that I ever imagined. And then the underwater stuff was even more difficult. It is extra claustrophobic because you were anchored to a chair that was spinning and things were being thrown at you and you are running out of breath and so on.
Q. Were you afraid?
Naomi Watts: Yes. Definitely. Particularly when one time something went wrong technically with the chair that they strap you to when they submerge you in the water. It spins you around underwater and they just weren’t able to shut it off at the right point and I couldn’t get out and was really struggling for breath. It went further than we’d planned and it was terrifying but it helps you to imagine. You can get tiny glimpses of what these people went through, though of course even this incident was nothing compared to what it was really like.
Q. You spoke to the real Maria, upon whom your character is based, so what touched you most about what she said?
Naomi Watts: There was a lot. When we finally came together after lots of building up towards that moment, we just sat in the room together and looked into each other’s eyes and she wanted to tell the story without words and she just held my hand and started to cry. It is still very, very at the surface for her and if you get the chance to speak to her you will see that in seconds. She likes to tell the story but the thing that really surprised me was that she said she felt so connected to her instincts and she was so sure every time about big decisions that she had to make. It wasn’t like, ‘Shall we do this, shall we do that, what if?’ She just knew what the right thing was to do and what she had to do. That was surprising because I can’t imagine being so in touch with my instincts.
Q. This is Ewan McGregor’s first film where he plays a dad…
Naomi Watts: Yes, I know. He kept saying: “I have never played a dad before.” I had played mother lots of times before I was a mother but now I do worry about my own children every single day, in the tiniest of ways. All the worst possible worries come into my head. I just worry, worry all the time about their safety. Definitely having been a mother and playing this character, it added a weight to it.
Q. Are you a very protective mother?
Naomi Watts: Yes. But I don’t think I am neurotically cautious. I am just quite cautious. I want them to feel brave and I want to trust them and I do find myself saying: “Oh, do just let them explore it!” It’s trial and error.
Q. How do you feel about the Princess Diana experience?
Naomi Watts: There will be plenty of time to talk about that so I don’t want to go into it too much. But it is a big undertaking. It is an important story to tell.
Q. Did you do a lot of research for The Impossible?
Naomi Watts: I did research. There were a lot of available documentaries, one particularly from Channel 4 and also lots of video material on the internet. There are so many stories that you can find to get a universal idea of what it might have been like to be there. There is also a book about a plane that crashed in the Amazon in 1972 that was helpful.
Q. Would you like your sons to watch this movie?
Naomi Watts: My sons were there on the set all the time. The lead up to them coming for the first time I was very careful about what condition they saw me in first. Depending on what scenes we were shooting I was in a worse situation or in a slightly better one. So, Liev [Schreiber, her partner] and I spoke about it. I spoke about it with him and I said: “Just remind them of what they are going to see.” So, the day they came I had just these little cuts and scrapes and a little bit of blood and a lot of dirt. I never wanted them to see the leg or the boob but by the end of the movie they were there in the make-up truck painting me, with my genius make up artist by the side of me. They were putting on the chocolate powder for dirt and the blood. I have a video of it so they became the artists themselves. They thought that it was incredible fun so they understand that it is all make-believe.
Q. So, they know that mummy is an actress and it is her job…
Naomi Watts: Yes. But I was playing the trailer the other day and one of them came in and saw one of the images and I shut it off right away. I thought ‘No!’ I don’t want them to see me like that!
The Impossible is released on Blu-ray and DVD on Monday, May 6, 2013.
- Read our review
- Naomi Watts DVD interview
- Ewan McGregor DVD interview
- Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor interview
- Juan Antonio Bayona and Tom Holland interview
- The Impossible Photo Gallery
- Watch the trailer