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article imageNaomi Watts beats the odds to achieve 'The Impossible' Special

By Earl Dittman     May 1, 2013 in Entertainment
Garnering an Oscar nod for her portrayal of a mother fighting to save the lives of her children after a catastrophic tsunami struck Thailand, actress Naomi Watts battled emotional and physical tidal waves to deliver the best performance of her career.
In the flesh, Naomi Watts is even more stunning than she has appeared on the big screen in such critically-acclaimed motion pictures as 21 Grams, The Ring and Eastern Promises. Her beauty is not only visible to the naked eye, but is very much skin deep for the British-born actress. Having spent many hours with Watts over the past decade, what proves even more mesmerizing concerning her appearance is the 44-year-old, two-time Oscar-nominee doesn't appear as if she has aged a day since 1999's Mulholland Dr.
Naomi blushes at the suggestion she appears ageless. "Thanks, but you must need glasses," she says with a good-natured laugh. Lounging on a sofa in her Four Seasons hotel suite in Beverly Hills, Watts acquiesces , "I really appreciate the compliment, but I think people are just being nice. Do I feel beautiful? I have at times, especially when I've gone to award shows, premieres or galas, but most of time I'm no sex symbol or any of that nonsense, I'm just a mom (to her two sons, Alexander and Samuel, with actor Liev Schreiber). I guess I just have great make-up folks. It's all an illusion.”
Naomi Watts on the red carpet for a screening of  The Impossible
Naomi Watts on the red carpet for a screening of 'The Impossible'
Summit
While there may some mystery surrounding her perpetual loveliness, there is no question Watts is one of the most talented actresses in Hollywood today. Since her start on Australian television in the late-1980s, Naomi has delivered one daring and brilliant performance after another. Whether she is portraying a damsel in distress in a massive major studio picture such as King Kong or playing a lovelorn, unhappy wife in the art house picture The Painted Veil, Watts has repeatedly demonstrated she possesses a flawless ability to convincingly become any character she desires.
Most of her Tinsel Town contemporaries would agree. That’s the reason she has been nominated twice for a Best Actress Academy Award. Naomi received her first Oscar nod for 21 Grams. Just last year, she was honored again for her phenomenal performance in the deeply moving The Impossible. While the award would ultimately go to Jennifer Lawrence for his dazzling turn in Silver Linings Playbook, Watts was considered the dark horse who had a very viable chance to take home the coveted statuette. While there was an incredible amount of buzz surrounding her portray of the real-life tsunami survivor Maria Belon, even before she was nominated, Watts didn’t even consider the possibility of being named Best Actress of 2012. "Of course, it’s always nice to get recognition from your peers, but I really try not to think about those things when I have made a movie or when I am choosing a role. When I read a script, I don’t think, ‘Will this win me an Oscar?‘ Not at all, if you think like that you limit yourself as artist. When it comes to awards and nominations, I’ve been down that road before, so it’s always best not to think about it – before, during or after.”
Watts poured her heart and soul into her preparation to bring Maria Belon’s true story to life in The Impossible. She even endured immense psychological and physical danger to make her portrayal believable. “When I wasn’t in the water I was in pain or a high-pitched emotional place,” Naomi recalls. “The Impossible is probably the most difficult role I’ve ever done. Before that, I would say King Kong was the most physically and emotionally demanding role. When I finished The Impossible, I remember promising myself, ‘I’ll never do that again.’ It was sort of like childbirth.
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in a scene from  The Impossble
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland in a scene from 'The Impossble'
Summit
“This is a movie that required me to be in the water a great deal of the movie, and I actually have an incredible fear of the water, because I nearly drowned years ago,” she confesses. “When it happened, I got caught in a riptide in Bali. I wasn’t a good swimmer because that was when I was emigrating from England to Australia, so I really haven’t spent that much time in the sea. So, spending all that time in and under the water for The Impossible was tough for me.”
When Watts was initially presented with the screenplay for The Impossible, she was a bit reluctant to take on the role. However, after meeting with Spanish director Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) and after reading a portion of the script, Naomi knew it was a project she had to be a part of, regardless of what impact it might have on her body and psyche. “When my agent first called me and said, ‘There’s this movie about the tsunami,’ I was like, ‘This really doesn’t sound like such a great idea,” she recalls. “It was such a big powerful story and so many lives were lost and affected by the event. For some reason, it felt wrong to make a movie about that, and make it spectacular in some way. Often that’s how disaster movies end up. But then I heard that Antonio was directing it, and I was familiar with The Orphanage, and I thought, ‘Wow, he’s a proper filmmaker.' He let me read it. Five pages into it, I knew that I wanted to do it, because it just felt really grounded in truth. That’s because all of their experiences –blow by blow – that happened to them is on the screen. It told an intense story of survival. I had never played a role like that before. I just had to be in The Impossible.”
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Summit
One of the best films of 2012, The Impossible (now available on Blu-ray and DVD) is based on one family's terrifying struggles to survive the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It was day after Christmas that year, and the waters of the Indian Ocean devoured the western coast of Thailand. It would be recorded as the worst natural disaster ever to strike that country. In ten-minute intervals, the devastating tidal waves crashed onto hundred’s of Thailand's tranquil beach communities – resulted in over 5,000 tragic deaths, an estimated 2,800 missing souls and 1,480 children who became orphans.
Henry (Ewan McGregor) and his wife Maria (Watts), along with their sons Lucas, Simon and Thomas (Tom Holland, Oaklee Pendergast and Simon Joslin) had decided to spend their Christmas holiday in a scenic, tropical paradise of a coastal town in Thailand. However, when the tsunamis hit – without any advance warning – the family is caught up in the horrifying mayhem of the tsunami’s after effects. Instantly separated from each other and Maria seriously injured, the four of them struggle to survive and to desperately find a way to reunite with one another. A incredibly powerful and compelling film that focuses on the will of every man, woman and child’s capacity for perseverance, love and unshakable faith, The Impossible is epic, intimate and ultimately uplifting motion picture that travels to the very core of the human soul.
As mentioned, The Impossible tells the true, miraculous survival story of Maria and Alvarez Belon and their three young boys. The Spanish husband and wife were encouraged by director Bayona to consult and participate in the filming of the events that redefined their lives and that of millions. To do justice to Maria’s compassion, strength and willingness to keep her family alive, Watts felt it was essential to meet Belon before filming on The Impossible commenced. Watts admits she was at a loss for words during her initial introduction to Belon. “When I met Maria I was incredibly nervous, and I didn’t know where to begin our conversation,” she recalls. “I just felt like, 'I’m just an actor and you have lived through this extraordinary horrendous thing. I just don’t know where to start?' I just felt like any question would seem ridiculous, but we finally sat there in front of each other for about five minutes. She didn’t feel the need to speak, and I couldn’t. Then she just started welling up and the story was told. Then, through just a look I started welling up, too. I think we just thought, 'Okay, let’s just get on with this.' We just continued to speak for about three-and-a-half hours, but time just went by so quickly, and she stayed with me the whole time. I don’t mean physically, but we were connected. Afterwards, we sent emails back and forth or she would write endless letters about all the details that took place in each new scene that we took on. Some people have asked me if she intimidating to meet and talk to. Maria wasn’t. Once you spend time with her, you quickly realize that she’s nothing but warm and just wonderful. Initially, it’s intimidating because you just don’t know how to relate because there are not many people like her."
Naomi Watts with Maria Belon at the premiere of  The Impossible
Naomi Watts with Maria Belon at the premiere of 'The Impossible'
Summit
During their conversations together, Belon was incredibly honest and forthcoming with Watts. Naomi found her words invaluable in helping to inform her portrayal of such a courageous and passionate woman. "Everything Maria said to me was useful and inspirational,“ Naomi reveals. “The thing that she talked about was her instinct and her ability to trust herself, which I think we lose so often. Really, I should speak for me. I feel like I’m full of self-doubt and second-guessing, which is why this story becomes interesting to anyone because you wonder how you would be or how you would deal with this."
While Belon explained she had used a lot of common sense to keep herself and her oldest son alive throughout the hellish, destructive aftermath the tsunamis had caused, Watts was surprised when Maria attributed her family’s survival to a number tiny twists of fate. “Maria attributes their staying alive to total luck, because there were 250,000 lives lost, and all five members of her family lived,” Watts says. “So it has to be luck, it has to be. She just doesn’t want to be thought of as heroic in any way, even though to me and to others we feel like she is. Quite simply, she just thinks it was pure luck she just can’t say it any other way."
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Summit
During one of the film’s more emotionally gut-wrenching sequences, Maria is lying in a hospital, in what she essentially believes is her death bed. Watt’s onscreen performance during these scenes is undoubtedly what clinched her the Oscar nod. Consequently, Naomi found it one of the toughest acting moments she’s had to get to convincingly pull off in her career. “That whole scene was difficult, because as an actor when you’re forced into one position, literally, is it going to limit you,” she explains. “Obviously, with Maria’s loss of blood and energy, it made this powerful woman very passive. But it was important to keep the emotion moving and the spirit of the character coming through. Again, speaking to Maria, she spoke about how she wanted to keep humor there and she wasn’t dying until she was dead, so there is a sense of the fighter in her.
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland
Naomi Watts and Tom Holland
Summit
“Making sure she lived long enough became so important to her,” she adds. “There’s a line in the movie where she says, ‘If it’s the last thing I do…’ I just thought, ‘We have to do it despite the urgency of wanting to move forward and away because that was all that mattered.’ She told me that because she was a medical professioal, she knew how much blood she was losing and she was pretty sure she was going to die. To Maria, the most important thing was to leave a lesson to her son. I’m getting emotional just talking about it.”
As the mother of two sons with Liev Schreiber, playing Maria induced Watts to reevaluate her relationship with her own children. "I think about my children’s safety on a daily basis, because between Liev and myself, I would have to say that I’m probably the more neurotic one,“ she says with a laugh. “But there needs to be one parent that’s a bit freer and one that’s a bit neurotic, it makes a good balance. The simple things scare me, you know, the ordinary every day things. When I’m filming, automatically, things that have meaning in my life end up affecting my work."
Ewan McGregor  Oaklee Pendergast and Simon Joslin in a scene from  The Impossible
Ewan McGregor, Oaklee Pendergast and Simon Joslin in a scene from 'The Impossible'
Summit
In addition to clarifying her views on parenthood, Watts' time spent bringing Maria to life had a weighty effect on Naomi’s entire view on the fragility of life. "I like to think that every film I do stays with me and gives me some kind of lesson in some way,” she admits. “I would say that with Maria, connecting with her and her story affected me profoundly and who she is as a person. If I met her today – without knowing that she had been through a tsunami – I think I would be intimidated by her or not be able to relate to her because she’s so full of this fearlessness, is so positive and full of life. Me, I’m probably quite cynical and not like that. But, it just makes her very impressive knowing what she’s been through and how she sees things and just not sweating the small stuff."
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Summit
Although Watts came away her experience making The Impossible with a new outlook on life, there were physical aspects of playing Maria she found quite uncomfortable. "The whole tsunami sequence of the film was horrible, because I would come away with a lot of bruises and scrapes on a daily basis,” she says. “The the thing that got me the most, physically, was that I had a horrific cough from the beginning to end of the water sequence –which was six long weeks. I think I have permanent respiratory damage. It was one of those hacking coughs because we were in the water all the time, so you just couldn’t get rid of it no matter what kind of medication you were on. It was also in this sort of dusty place as well. I really don’t know how Maria did it, and she actually lived it.”
Naomi Watts in  Diana
Naomi Watts in 'Diana'
Ecosse
In her next film, Naomi portrays another actual, real-life human being. In the biopic Diana, she tackles the role of the well-loved, iconic, late Princess Diana of England. While Watts has spent the better part of her acting career portraying fictional characters, she confesses it’s been a bit of a challenge playing two women who lead actual lives. "I think it’s harder to play ladies like Maria and Diana, because you have a responsibility when you’re playing real life people,” she admits. “Especially when people know them and have their own idea about whom that person is. In the case of Diana – obviously, the most famous person in the world – instantly, there is this huge pressure there. With Maria, there is a different kind of pressure. It didn’t matter how I walked and talked, because nobody really knew of her, but it mattered so much in terms of telling the story in the most truthful way given the amount of suffering that her and her family went through – just using her story as a tiny piece of the much bigger story."
Watts reveals she did enjoy wearing some the fancy designer outfits and the expensive, pricey accoutrements Princess Diana was famous for wearing during her brief, but glorious lifetime. “Now, that was certainly a time I felt really gorgeous, like a princess,” Naomi jokingly admits. "Of course, I had a ton of stylists and make-up people constantly on set with me. Diana was a beautiful woman. I think I did her justice, both as portraying the real woman who rose to the challenge to become a person committed to change. And, I guess I reasonably resemble her. That kind of perfection is hard to live up to.”
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Lionsgate/Summit
The Impossible Blu-ray (Blu-ray + Digital Download) Bonus Features: Audio Commentary with Director J.A. Bayona, Writer Sergio G. Sanchez, Producer Belen Atienza, and Maria Belon; "Casting The Impossible"; "Realizing The Impossible" and Deleted Scenes.
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Warner Bros
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Universal
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Paramount/Showtime
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BBC
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Acorn
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CBS/Paramount
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CBS/Paramount
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BBC
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Warner Bros
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ANIMATED
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Fox
Cheech & Chong's Animated Movie
You're not hallucinating – but they are. It's the legendary toker jokers Cheech & Chong as you've never seen them before – in their very first Animated Movie. Catch all the buzz as their most outrageously funny routines and laugh-out-loud lines from their Grammy Award-winning albums come to life, including Dave's Not Here, Let's Make a Dope Deal and more. With help from a bud-lovin' body crab named Buster, Cheech & Chong, "the masters of the smokin' word," deliver the ultimate comedy high and give you the munchies for more. Blu-ray Bonus Features: "Joint Commentary" by Cheech Marin & Tommy Chong; Commentary by Chambers Brothers & Lou Adler; Commentary by Tommy Chong & Paris Chong; 4.20 Listening Mode; "Medical Marijuana Blues - Session With Blind Melon Chitlin'" and a Cheech & Chong Slideshow.
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Warner Brothers
Scooby-Doo: Mask of The Blue Falcon
The Mega Mondo Pop Cartoon-a-Con in sunny California marks the spot for mystery in this all-new original Scooby-Doo adventure. Herculoids, Frankenstein Jr. and Space Ghost are just a few of the celebrated comic book characters headlining at the unconventional convention, plus there's a megabucks movie premiere starring Scooby-Doo and Shaggy's all-time favorite super heroes, Blue Falcon and Dynomutt. So when the gruesome villain Mr. Hyde unleashes monster bats, howling hounds and sinister slime upon the festivities, it's time for Mystery Incorporated to follow the clues and set their monster traps. But it's the pizza-snacking, super-powered tag team of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo who tap into their inner super hero to prevent the entire event from being smothered in ghoulish green goo. Like, right on, Dog Wonder. DVD Bonus Features: Bonus Vintage Cartoons: "Comic Book Caper," "Reflections In A Ghoulish Eye and "The Scooby Coupe."
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Gaiam Vivendi
Iron Man Armored Adventures: Season 2, Volume 4
Transport yourself to the most intense action ever known with the help of Iron Man, as he finally saves his father from his imprisonment under the tyranny of Doctor Doom. But life is not back to normal yet, as our hero still has to find a way to return his father's company to him once and for all from the clutches of the villainous Justin Hammer. Later when the Mandarin gains all ten rings of power it demands a new Hero emerge, as Tony Stark gives Pepper Potts her own suit of armor, and Rescue is born! But when the Makluans attack, Iron Man must call on all his allies across the world; Nick Fury, Hawkeye, Black Panther, The Hulk and Black Widow to battle the alien invasion and save the human race from certain destruction. Nothing will prepare Tony for the struggle that is about to take place. Will peace finally be restored? Or will Iron Man's battle continue? Don't miss a single moment of the heart-pounding action. DVD Bonus Feature: Original Artwork Gallery
STAND-UP COMEDY
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Comedy Central/Paramount
Gabriel Iglesias: Aloha Fluffy
Live from Hawaii. Alohaaaaa! Internationally acclaimed comedian, Gabriel Iglesias, returns to Comedy Central with his latest stand-up special taped at Honolulu's Hawaii Theatre Center. Watch as Fluffy brings the house down yet again in this complete special with his unique and animated show that has made him popular among fans of all ages. Aloha Fluffy is sure to be a comedy classic, making this extended and uncensored special a must-own. DVD Bonus Features: "Fluffy Presents: Alfred Robles"; Encore; Outtake and Behind The Scenes.
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Comedy Central
Kristen Schaal: Live At The Fillmore
In her first Comedy Central original one-hour special, Kristen Schaal: Live At The Fillmore, Schaal is not afraid to go blue at times (which is shop talk for explicit). She will talk about taints. She will perform her magician's assistant audition. She may even surprise the audience with a special guest: her dancing horse. Known to many as a correspondent on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart and as an eccentric fan on Flight Of The Conchords, Kristen Schaal unleashes her hysterical comedic wit upon San Francisco. Now you can own Schaal's whimsical hour, extended and uncensored. DVD Bonus Features: "Comedy Central Presents: Kristen Schaal"; Kristen's Performance On John Oliver's NY Stand-Up Show and Kristen's Favorite Appearance On The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
NATURE
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BBC
The Blue Planet: Seas of Life
Before creating the monumental Planet Earth, producer Alastair Fothergill and his team from the BBC put together one of the most breathtaking explorations of the world's oceans ever assembled. The winner of two Emmy Awards (Outstanding Cinematography - Non-Fiction and Outstanding Music Composition for George Fenton's score), The Blue Planet: Seas of Life is the definitive exploration of the marine world, chronicling the mysteries of the deep in ways never before imagined. This groundbreaking series is now being re-released in a high definition for the first time ever. See it again, like never before! Blu-ray Bonus Features: "Amazon Abyss," "Dive To Shark Volcano," "Between The Tides," "Antarctica" and "Deep Trouble"; Interviews with producer Alastiar Fothergill, cameraman Doug Allan and researcher Penny Allen
80 ff Behind The Scenes footage.
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Universal
Planet Ocean
Planet Ocean captures extraordinary images of our remarkable oceans – the source of all life on our planet. Filmed by directors Yann Arthus-Bertrand and Michael Pitiot, along with an outstanding team of international underwater cinematographers in partnership with Omega and with the scientific support of Tara Expeditions. The film aims to explain some of the planet's greatest natural mysteries, while reinforcing how essential it is that mankind learns to live in harmony with our oceans. Planet Ocean serves as a reminder of the bond between humans and nature, and the duty that exists to protect and respect our planet. Yann Arthus Bertrand, Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program, presented this film to the leaders of Rio+20 conference, in June 2012. Blu-ray Bonus Features: "In The Skies Above Rio," "Underwaters" and "Shanghai."
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