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The Evolution Of Naomi Watts

Under The Lighthouse Dancing (1997)

Watts heads back to Australia for this production, which follows six friends who head to the Aussie coast for a weekend. When two of their company announce they’re going to get married, the others rally around them, knowing that the bride-to-be is very ill.

Filled with lush scenery, Under The Lighthouse Dancing is a character piece that deals with love, life and hope.

Star Wattage: Shining nicely as part of a larger ensemble.

Sleepwalkers (1997)

Watts almost lands every actor’s dream – a steady paycheck – with this short-lived sci-fi TV series, which aired on NBC in the States in 1997. Nine episodes in total were filmed, but NBC cancelled the series after only two episodes had aired.

Created by Blade movie guru David Goyer, the show followed a team of researchers who used new technology to enter the dreams of psychiatric patients. Then, from the inside, they diagnosed their problems. Watts played Kate Russell, one of the team workers.

Star Wattage: Snuffed out.

The Hunt For The Unicorn Killer (1999)

Sticking with TV, Watts stars in this mini-series. She’s the girlfriend of 1970s activist Ira Einhorn, and later his victim. Tom Skerritt pitches up as Watts’ father, who attempts to get Einhorn banged up for his crime.

Another NBC production, Hunt For The Unicorn Killer aired as a four hour, two-part film.

Star Wattage: Snuffed again, but for a different reason this time.

Strange Planet (1999)

“I will not sulk about not having a boyfriend,” swears Alice (Watts) as the year 2000 dawns. Along with her two housemates, she’s happy being single, but sick of meeting Mr Wrong around every corner. By year’s end, they’ll surely be fixed up with Mr Right.

A bouncy romantic comedy, Strange Planet is a predictable feel-good soufflé.

Star Wattage: Holding steady.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

Finally, a little kudos. Watts paired up with Master Of The Weird aka David Lynch for this trippy mind-scramble, and earned herself a Best Actress award at the National Society Of Film Critics - as well as Breakthrough Performance Of The Year courtesy of the National Board Of Review.

Betty Elms (Watts) is an aspiring actress who meets an amnesiac woman who was the sole survivor of a car accident on Mulholland Drive. In a film that twists reality and dreams together, Watts turns in a fearless, breathless performance.

Star Wattage:
Off the chart.

Rabbits (2002)

A series of short films directed by David Lynch, Rabbits amounts to an eight episode collection of short videos that follow three rabbits “living with a fearful mystery”.

Watts provided the voice of Suzie, the rabbit who’s sitting on the sofa. A typically weird offering from Lynch, his off-the-wall experiment will be debated and analysed for years to come. Notably, some snippets from Rabbits also crop up in Lynch’s film Inland Empire.

Star Wattage: Miraculously not stifled by the rabbit get-up.

The Ring (2002)

Not many actresses can boast that they received rave reviews for a horror movie. But Watts isn’t just any actress.

Starring in this English-language remake of Hideo Nakata’s video tape horror Ringu , Watts earned critical acclaim as a young journalist who gets drawn into an investigation surrounding a supposedly cursed video tape. Coming at the beginning of Hollywood’s descent into remake obsession, director Gore Verbinksi delivers a layered, creepy re-do that holds up to the original.

Star Wattage: We were too scared to notice.

Plotz With A View (2002)

Also known as Undertaking Betty , this comedy romance follows the plight of an unhappily married woman and the undertaker who’s in love with her.

Together, they plot to fake her death so that they can be together – but the course of love never did run smoothly. A gentle comedy from the director of Virtual Sexuality .

Star Wattage: In spades; just check out that outfit.

Ned Kelly (2003)

Another Australian film, this one starring Watts’ fellow countryman Heath Ledger. He’s the titular Ned, who forms an Irish Australians gang in the 19th century. The film drew mostly on Robert Drewe’s book Our Sunshine , and was met with generally favourable reviews.

Watts plays Julia Cook, a wealthy, well-dressed member of the bourgeoisie.

Star Wattage: Understated and modest.

Le Divorce (2003)

A bubbly comedy based on Diane Johnson’s bestseller, Le Divorce finds Watts playing the pregnant, Paris resident Roxy. When her sister Isabel (Kate Hudson) comes to stay, tensions rise as she embarks on an affair with two different French men.

Though the film didn’t do well with critics, Watts shows she a dab hand with comedy – even when up against comedy-in-her-blood Kate Hudson.

Star Wattage: Tres bien.