Naomi Watts is a popular British actress famous for playing the role of Ann Darrow in the King Kong remake. She has a reputation for taking on roles in remakes and independent films that have dark or tragic themes. Her performances often involve characters who experience loss or suffering, which has shaped her unique acting style. She was placed on lists of the world’s most beautiful women in magazines like People and Maxim for her beauty and charisma.
Naomi Ellen Watts was born on Saturday, 28 September 1968 (age 54 years; as of 2022) in Shoreham, Kent, England. Her zodiac sign is Libra. She did her schooling at four different schools including Ysgol Gyfun Llangefni, Llangefni, Anglesey, Thomas Mills High School, Framlingham, England, Mosman High School, Mosman, Australia, and North Sydney Girls High School, Crows Nest, Australia. At the age of four, her parents got divorced. Following the separation, she and her older brother moved several times with their mother across various parts of South East England. Around the same time, her father, who was a member of the band Pink Floyd, left the group in 1974. He later remarried in 1976 but tragically passed away in August of the same year due to a heroin overdose in a flat located in Notting Hill. During an interview, she revealed that her family faced financial difficulties following her father’s death. She mentioned that they were left without any money after his death. In the interview, she said,
When he died, my dad hadn’t saved money, and I guess my mum didn’t have any. So they, the band, very kindly… ‘Trust fund’ doesn’t sound right at all. I think they gave my mum a few thousand dollars to help get things under way. A lump sum, to help. It was kind that they did that.”
Following her father’s death, Watts’s mother made the choice to move the family to Llanfawr Farm in Llangefni and Llanfairpwllgwyngyll, the island of Anglesey in North Wales. They lived there alongside Watts’s maternal grandparents for a period of three years. In an interview, she mentioned that during her time in Wales, she and her brother attended a school where they took Welsh lessons while the rest of the students were learning English. As they moved around frequently, she developed a habit of adapting to different regional accents. This skill later proved beneficial for her when she pursued acting, as she found it easier to learn and adapt different accents for her roles. According to her, she experienced a lot of sadness during her childhood. In 1978, her mother remarried, which led to another relocation for her and her brother and they moved to Suffolk. She desired to become an actress because of her upbringing, as she frequently observed her mother’s performances on stage. Additionally, she found inspiration in the 1980 film “Fame,” which further fueled her passion for acting. At the age of fourteen in 1982, she moved to Sydney, Australia, together with her mother, brother, and stepfather. Her mother sought opportunities in the film industry and began her career as a stylist for television commercials. Later, she transitioned into costume design and worked on the soap opera “Return to Eden,” where she was responsible for wardrobe and costumes. After settling in Australia, her mother enrolled her in acting lessons, which provided her with opportunities to audition for television advertisements. During one of these auditions, she had the chance to meet Nicole Kidman, another aspiring actress at the time. The two became friends and maintained a close relationship over the years. In fact, following Nicole Kidman’s divorce from Tom Cruise, Naomi began living with her as a supportive friend.
She did not complete her studies and decided to leave school. Following that, she took on various jobs to support herself. She worked as a papergirl, delivering newspapers, and also worked as a negative cutter. Additionally, she managed a Delicacies store located in Sydney’s North Shore. These experiences provided her with valuable life lessons and a diverse range of work experiences. When she was 18 years old, she aspired to have a career in modelling. She joined a modelling agency and was sent to Japan for potential opportunities. However, despite attending numerous auditions, she encountered multiple rejections and ultimately decided to return to Sydney. Upon her return to Sydney, she secured employment in the advertising department of a department store. The store also had its own magazine called “Follow Me,” which gave her an opportunity to work as an assistant fashion editor. She accepted the position, allowing her to gain experience in the world of fashion and editorial work. After some time, she received an invitation to attend a drama workshop. The experience at the workshop greatly inspired her passion for acting. As a result, she quit her job and pursued a career in acting. She likes to do martial arts and has received training in Judo. She actively participated in Judo championships between 1989 and 1992. Additionally, she has also taken training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. During an interview, she discussed her nationality and said that she considers herself British because she spent the first 14 years of her life in England and Wales, and that period greatly influenced her upbringing. She expressed a deep attachment to British culture and acknowledged it as a significant part of her identity. However, she also emphasized her strong connection to Australia and referred to it as her home.
Height (approx.): 5′ 8″
Hair Colour: Blonde
Eye Colour: Grey
Parents & Siblings
Her father’s name is Peter Watts, who was a road manager and sound engineer who worked with Pink Floyd. He passed away in 1976.
Her mother’s name is Myfanwy Edwards Roberts, who was an antiques dealer and costume and set designer.
She has one brother Ben Watts, who is a photographer.
Husband & Children
Naomi got married to the American actor Billy Crudup on 9 June 2023.
She has two sons Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pete and Samuel Kai.
Her maternal grandfather’s name is Hugh Roberts and her maternal grandmother’s name is Nikki.
She dated the Australian actor Heath Ledger from 2002 to 2004.
In 2005, she started dating the American actor Liev Schreiber and broke up in 2016.
In 2017, she got into a relationship with American actor Billy Crudup and married him in 2023.
She made her debut on television with the television series Twin Peaks in 2017.
She also appeared in three TV series including two episodes of the fourth season of the Australian sitcom Dad..! (1990), Brides of Christ (1991), and Home and Away (1991).
After moving to Australia, she began her acting career in movies and TV shows. Her debut film, released in 1986, was a drama titled “For Love Alone.” The film was based on the novel of the same name by Christina Stead and was produced by Margaret Fink.
She was offered a role in the drama series “A Country Practice.” However, she declined the offer as she did not want to commit to a long-term role in a soap opera for a period of two or three years. She had the opportunity to work with director John Duigan, who offered her a supporting role in his independent film “Flirting” in 1991. The film, which explored the relationship between students at an Australian boarding school, received critical acclaim and was recognized by renowned film critic Roger Ebert, who included it on his list of the 10 best films of 1992. After taking a year off to travel and exploring her career options, she embarked on a journey that led her to Los Angeles. Her friend Nicole Kidman introduced her to agents in the entertainment industry. She made the decision to relocate to the United States and continued pursuing her acting career. However, upon arriving in the US, she faced challenges in finding roles in low-budget films. In 1993, she managed to secure a small role in the John Goodman film “Matinee.”
She temporarily returned to Australia to star in three Australian films. She reunited with director John Duigan for the film “Wide Sargasso Sea.” She also appeared in the drama film “The Custodian” and had her first leading role in “Gross Misconduct.” In the latter film, she portrayed a student who accuses one of her teachers of rape. Upon relocating to the United States, she encountered faced challenges in pursuing acting opportunities. She faced difficulty in finding agents, producers, and directors who were willing to hire her during that period, leading to a lack of work and frustration. The lack of income led to financial hardships. Despite the difficult circumstances, Watts remained committed to her passion for acting and chose not to take on jobs outside of the film industry. Unfortunately, she could not afford the rent for her apartment and even resulted in the loss of her medical insurance coverage. In an interview, she discussed the challenges she faced during her early years in the United States. While initially, doors seemed to open for her through connections she made via Nicole Kidman, she experienced instances where people she had previously met couldn’t remember her name upon meeting. She used to feel isolated and lonely. However, Watts found a friend Nicole, who encouraged her to persevere and continue pursuing her acting career. In an interview, she revealed that she was offered very small roles, some of which were so insignificant that the production didn’t even bother to send her the full script. To prepare for these roles, she had to drive for hours to the San Fernando Valley just to collect three pages of the script. The next day, she would line up for two hours to meet the casting director, who often did not even make eye contact with her. In 1995, she got a supporting role in the futuristic film “Tank Girl” after going through nine auditions. Although the film didn’t do well initially, it gained a dedicated following and became a cult favourite over the years.
She predominantly took on supporting roles in films for 10 years. There were moments when she wanted to leave the acting profession, but every time she considered doing so, a new role would unexpectedly come keeping her engaged and motivated to continue her acting career. The year 1966 was great for her as she appeared in many films. She starred in the action-thriller “Persons Unknown” alongside Joe Mantegna, Kelly Lynch, and J.T. Walsh, which was directed by George Hickenlooper. She also appeared in the period drama “Timepiece” alongside James Earl Jones, Kevin Kilner, and Ellen Burstyn. Additionally, in the same year, Watts was featured in the film “Bermuda Triangle,” where she portrayed a former documentary filmmaker who mysteriously vanishes in the infamous Bermuda Triangle. Furthermore, she took on the lead role in “Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering,” a horror film from the popular “Children of the Corn” franchise. In 1997, she appeared in the Australian romantic drama “Under the Lighthouse Dancing.” The film also starred Jack Thompson and Jacqueline McKenzie. Additionally, she took on the lead role in the television series “Sleepwalkers.” These projects showcased Watts’s talent in both film and television, allowing her to further establish her presence in the industry. In 1998, she starred alongside Neil Patrick Harris and Debbie Reynolds in the TV film “The Christmas Wish.”
Additionally, she took on the supporting role of Giulia De Lezze in the film “Dangerous Beauty.” Watts also lent her voice to the animated film “Babe: Pig in the City.” In a 2012 interview, she mentioned that she did not consider voice-over work as a significant part of her acting resume. She clarified that during one particular voice-over project, she had to inhale helium to create a higher-pitched voice, similar to that of a mouse. In 1999, she starred in the romantic comedy film “Strange Planet” and also appeared in the television movie “The Hunt for the Unicorn Killer.” In 2000, she took on a prominent role in the BBC TV film “The Wyvern Mystery.” The film, based on the novel of the same name by Sheridan Le Fanu, also starred Derek Jacobi, Jack Davenport, and Iain Glen. She experienced disappointment in not being cast in certain films such as “The Postman,” “The Devil’s Advocate,” and “Meet the Parents.” In an interview, she discussed her audition process for “Meet the Parents,” mentioning that she had auditioned five times and received positive feedback from the director. However, the studio ultimately decided to choose another actress for the role. Watts even shared that she heard feedback about not being considered “sexy enough” for the part. She received a breakthrough role in David Lynch’s psychological thriller “Mulholland Drive” in 2001.
Portraying an aspiring actress in the film, this performance moved her onto the international stage. In an interview, Lynch mentioned that he chose Watts for the role based because of her headshot and without considering her previous work. He praised her talent, beautiful soul, and intelligence, which he believed made her capable of taking on diverse roles. “Mulholland Drive” premiered at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and garnered significant praise for its artistic merits. However, the film also sparked controversy due to its strong lesbian themes. In an interview, she revealed that after her role in “Mulholland Drive” in 2001, a director made a comment suggesting that she should focus on working extensively before she reaches an age where her attractiveness declined. In an interview, she said,
It’s something we just all have to get comfortable with and women are asked to do it more than men. We don’t talk about a man ageing hardly ever. We don’t talk about his gray hair. In fact, if we do, it’s like, ‘Oh, he gets more handsome, more desirable, more powerful.’ And why is he powerful? Because he’s accumulated experiences. Well, it should be the same for women. We’ve got important and powerful experiences as well at this age that we should feel proud of.”
In 2001, she starred in two short films: “Never Date an Actress” and “Ellie Parker.” Additionally, she appeared in the horror film “The Shaft” and the remake of the 1983 film “De Lift.” Following her breakthrough role in “Mulholland Drive,” she took on the role of a troubled journalist in the horror remake “The Ring” in 2002. This English-language film was based on the Japanese horror film “Ring.” The film achieved commercial success, grossing approximately US$129 million domestically (equivalent to US$209.9 million in 2023). In 2002, she collaborated with renowned director David Lynch on several short films. She appeared in Lynch’s experimental series “Rabbits,” as well as the black comedy “Plots with a View” and “The Outsider.”
In 2002, she was recognized for her beauty and talent when she was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful by People Magazine. In 2003, she appeared in Gregor Jordan’s Australian film “Ned Kelly,” sharing the screen with actors like Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom, and Geoffrey Rush. She also starred in the Merchant-Ivory film “Le Divorce,” where she played the role of Roxeanne de Persand, a pregnant poet abandoned by her husband. While the film received a mixed reception, with Entertainment Weekly giving it a “C” rating, Watts’ performance showcased her ability to portray complex and emotionally charged characters. In 2004, she starred in the independent drama “We Don’t Live Here Anymore.” Additionally, she appeared in “The Assassination of Richard Nixon,” a historical drama, and the quirky comedy “I Heart Huckabees.” In 2005, she made a cameo appearance and served as a producer for the semi-autobiographical drama “Ellie Parker.” The film depicted the struggles of an Australian actress trying to make it in Hollywood. Initially screened as a short film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, “Ellie Parker” later evolved into a full-length feature film. In 2005, she did a role in the sequel to the horror film “The Ring” titled “The Ring Two.” The film achieved significant commercial success, grossing over US$161 million worldwide (equivalent to US$241.2 million in 2023). In 2005, she starred in the remake of “King Kong” as the character Ann Darrow. She was personally selected for the role, being the top choice of the filmmakers. The original character was portrayed by Fay Wray, and Watts had the opportunity to meet her before her unfortunate passing during pre-production at the age of 96. “King Kong” remains Watts’ most commercially successful film to date, grossing an impressive US$550 million worldwide (equivalent to US$824.1 million in 2023). Her portrayal of Ann Darrow also extended to the video game adaptation of the film.
In 2005, she appeared in the psychological thriller film “Stay,” alongside Ewan McGregor, Ryan Gosling, and Bob Hoskins. In December 2005, she was voted as the 3rd entertainer in Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year list. In 2005, she was ranked #76 on Forbes’ Power in Entertainment List. In 2006, she starred in the romantic drama film “The Painted Veil” alongside Edward Norton and Liev Schreiber. In 2006, she provided a voice-over for the character Suzie Rabbit in David Lynch’s psychological thriller film “Inland Empire.” In 2006, she was featured in the 2007 Pirelli Calendar representing the jewellers David Yurman. In 2006, she was named the second sexiest woman in the world in the French edition of FHM magazine’s “100 Sexiest Women in the World” list. In 2007, she starred in the film “Eastern Promises” alongside Viggo Mortensen. Despite being three months pregnant with her son Alexander during filming, she delivered a compelling performance. The film achieved a worldwide gross of US$56 million (equivalent to US$83.9 million in 2023). In 2007, Naomi took on the role of both producer and actress in the film “Funny Games,” which was a remake of Michael Haneke’s 1997 film of the same name. After a two-year break, she made a comeback with the film “The International” in 2009. The film achieved a worldwide gross of over $60 million (equivalent to $81.8 million in 2023). In 2009, she appeared in the drama Mother and Child. In 2010, she appeared in the film “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival. The film went on to gross over $26 million (equivalent to $34.9 million in 2023). In 2010, she portrayed the role of Valerie Plame in the biographical thriller “Fair Game.” In 2011, she appeared in the psychological horror film “Dream House” and the biographical drama “J. Edgar.” While “Dream House” did not perform well, “J. Edgar” was successful at the box office.
In 2012, she appeared in the film “The Impossible,” which had a successful opening in Spain and grossed over $180.2 million globally. Her performance in the film earned her nominations for prestigious awards such as the Academy Award, Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Actress. Interestingly, despite her fear of water due to a past experience, Watts portrayed a character who spent a significant amount of time in the water in the film. She featured in the film Adore (2013), Movie 43 (2013), Sunlight Jr. (2013), Diana (2013), and While We’re Young (2014). In 2014, she was featured in the film “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” The film, directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu, was highly acclaimed and received multiple awards at the 87th Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The cast of the film, including Watts, also won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture. In 2014, she appeared in the film “St. Vincent” where she portrayed the character of a Russian prostitute. To prepare for her role and master the Russian accent, she immersed herself in the language and spent time with Russian women in a West Village spa for a month. Her performance in the film earned her a nomination for a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress.
She starred in other films including The Glass Castle (2017) and Luce (2019). She appeared in the Divergent film franchise from 2015 to 2016. The series, based on popular young adult novels, achieved commercial success, grossing a total of US$274.5 million worldwide. In 2015, she appeared in the mystery drama film The Sea of Trees, which had its premiere at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival. The movie was in competition for the prestigious Palme d’Or award. In 2015, she starred in two films, Demolition and Three Generations, both of which were screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. While Demolition had a regular release, Three Generations faced a delay and was eventually released in theatres in May 2017. She featured in the biographical sports drama The Bleeder (2016) and the thriller Shut In (2016). The film Shut In made US$8 million worldwide.
In 2017, she appeared in the Netflix drama series Gypsy, where she not only played a lead role but also served as one of its executive producers. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled by Netflix after just one season. In 2017, she rose to prominence for appearing in the popular mystery drama series Twin Peaks, which aired on Showtime. Her participation in the show not only showcased her versatility as an actress but also broadened her opportunities to explore diverse roles in both television and other mediums. In 2017, she appeared in other films including The Book of Henry and The Glass Castle. In 2019, she took on the character of Gretchen Carlson in the Showtime miniseries The Loudest Voice, which was an adaptation of the book The Loudest Voice in the Room. She also appeared in other films including Penguin Bloom (2020), Boss Level (2020), and This Is The Night (2021). In 2022, she took on the lead role of Nora Brannock in the Netflix series The Watcher. She has worked as an executive producer in the films Ellie Parker (2005), Adore (2013), 3 Generations (2015), This Is the Night (2021), and Goodnight Mommy (2022).
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- 2001: Best Actress Award from the National Society of Film Critics for the film Mulholland Drive
- 2014: Film Critics Circle of Australia Award for Best Actress her role in the film Adore
- Mercedes-Benz ML320 BlueTec
- Food: Pasta
- Film(s): Carnal Knowledge (1971), Harold and Maude (1971), Parasite (2019), Terms of Endearment (1983), Thelma & Louise (1991)
- Book: Catcher and the Rye
- Perfume(s): Kiehl’s Musk Eau de Toilette Spray, Kai by Gaye Straza Perfume Oil
- Designer: Stella McCartney
- Lipstick: Idealist by Hourglass
- Some of her nicknames include Queen of Remakes and Nai.
- Prior to her debut film in 1986, she made brief appearances in commercials. Furthermore, she has studied the Meisner Technique.
- She demonstrated a strong commitment to various social causes and actively engaged in philanthropic endeavours. In 2006, she established a close partnership with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and assumed the role of goodwill ambassador. In this capacity, she utilized her influential status and platform to raise awareness about the issues surrounding HIV/AIDS. Through participation in campaigns, fundraising events, and activities related to the cause, she actively worked towards generating support and funding for HIV/AIDS programs. Notably, she participated in the 21st Annual AIDS Walk and engaged in numerous initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges associated with the disease. Her efforts were recognized on 1 December 2009 when she met United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a public event held in observance of World AIDS Day. In an interview, she talked about it and said,
It has been both unfortunate and unfair for HIV