Naomi Watts has been talking about her taboo-busting new role at the Sundance Film Festival.
In Two Mothers , Watts stars alongside Robin Wright as two lifelong friends who fall for each other’s sons (Xavier Samuel and James Frecheville).
“It’s just so different; it’s unique,” said Watts of the premise, adapted by director Anne Fontaine ( Coco Before Chanel ) from Doris Lessing’s novel.
She also talked to TF about sex scenes, accents and her Best Actress Oscar nomination for real-life disaster drama The Impossible (opens in new tab) .
Two Mothers tackles something that’s still pretty relatively rare in modern cinema: older women involved with younger men.
“That’s just one side of the taboo; the other side is that the characters have all grown up together. It’s just so different. It’s unique.”
What was your first reaction to the script?
“I felt a nanosecond of judgement [ of the character ], then quickly switched to a place of forgiveness.
“It’s rare when you shift like that, when you’re sure that something is wrong but then you go, actually I’m OK with this; not only am I OK with it, I forgive it, I understand it.”
Did you find the sex scenes difficult?
“A little bit. With sex scenes there’s always a little bit of anticipation when you have to play that intimate with someone.
“I was worried because James [ Frecheville ] was 19 I think at the time and still a bit awkward in his body; when we did the dance scene it felt like he was going to crush me! But then when it got down to it he seemed to know what he was doing…”
How was being back in Australia again?
“Really great. It’s been such a long time. I’ve very connected that country. The most liberating thing was being able to speak in my own accent. I’ve spent a lot of time away from Australia so I had to do a few things to pull it back in.
“And of course because I’m also British, I don’t sound like every Australian! I worked on it a bit but it was so easy. Working with American dialects is much harder for me.”
You’re in the running for Best Actress at this year’s Oscars. How does it compare to getting your first nod, for 21 Grams ?
“It’s great; it makes you feel like the first time wasn’t a fluke! My mum’ll come to the ceremony with me and it’ll be very nice… and nerve-wracking, I’m sure.
“But I couldn’t be happier. And I’m very pleased for [ the real-life ] Maria too, to be able to tell her story.”