Naomi Watts on ‘Gypsy’, ‘Twin Peaks’, and When She Says “Yes” to a Role

Actress Naomi Watts

“What did I do last? Did I get that out of my system? What is this going to lead me to next?” – Naomi Watts on Choosing Parts

Naomi Watts is the latest screen star to take her considerable acting talent to television — in fact, she is even on more than one show. Watts stars in the Netflix original series Gypsy as well as appears in a smaller role on the revival of Twin Peaks. Speaking with Collider, Watts spoke about connecting with her characters, selecting roles, and the unique direction of David Lynch.

Watts’ character on Gypsy is a troubled therapist who becomes a little too deeply involved with her patients’ personal lives, which means the character gets involved in numerous dramatic situations. Watts said she enjoyed reading the twists in her screenplays, saying, “You can judge your character, even when you’re playing her, but it makes it fun.” She continues, “I’m not completely on board with a lot of the decisions she made, but it’s fun to shift from a place of judgement to forgiveness. I learned a lot on this whole thing, working at that high level of speed and volume. I’m basically in almost every scene. That was interesting for me. You have to stay on your toes, at all times. She was definitely not boring. I always worried that sticking with a character would become boring. I didn’t know how you’d sustain it, but I liked that she was going in and out of these different worlds that were vastly different.”

In addition to Gypsy, Watts also reunited with her Mulholland Dr. director David Lynch to appear in his revival of Twin Peaks. When asked what is the best direction she ever received from the enigmatic Lynch, Watts says, “I don’t know. He can use metaphors sometimes, but other times, he doesn’t. It’s so great! He’s there on his megaphone and he’s in the scene with you. He’ll say, ‘Okay, say it again, Naomi! This time, say it and look at him, and imagine you’ve got his balls and they’re in your hand and you’re just ripping them off! Take that man to the ground and show him your worth!’ He just gets you going, and you’re walking that fine line of having it be incredibly real and dark and powerful, but at the same time, it’s a little hilarious, too. It’s just a heightened reality. He crafts so well.”

As an Oscar-nominated actress who has been working steadily since the early 1990s, Watts has appeared in a wide variety of roles — and she says she still has a wide range of criteria when it comes to choosing roles. She reveals, “There are so many different things that make me say yes. Obviously, the right thing, the character and the filmmaker are a big part of it. And it’s a logistical thing, now that I’m a mom of kids in school. You can’t really move around too much, so who you’re going to work with and where it’s going to shoot are important… There’s a good change going on for female roles. It definitely seems like there’s a greater willingness to make female-driven stories, so there are better things available. We’re literally witnessing that change, as we speak, so that’s encouraging. I’m just always looking to change it up a bit. What did I do last? Did I get that out of my system? What is this going to lead me to next? It’s not that you’ve got a whole master plan, but you find yourself wanting to find different things, as much as possible.”

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