One would think that after being manhandled (apehandled?) by a giant gorilla in King Kong an actress could pretty much pull off any physical role. But Naomi Watts, who stars in The Impossible, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, had to fend with far more than a digital gorilla since much of the film takes place during a tsunami in Thailand.
On one hand, Watts admits that the role didn’t require her to memorize much dialogue: she says it amounts to about two pages, and “The rest is about physical stuff or groans or calling each other’s names.”
But acting in a massive water tank wasn’t like a day at the water park for Watts and the cast. In fact, she confesses that she wasn’t as much acting during filming as she was reacting, saying, “They had this thing worked out where the current was coming this way and we were in these sort of giant flowerpots almost. And we were being thrust on a kind of track. And it wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I’m going to choose to do this in this take.’ You were just in it and swallowing water and trying to get above the water and also make it good and go below and up, and so at the end of each time you went down, which was about 80,000 times, you were spitting out water and gasping for air.”
Though the 43 year-old Watts survived, she admits it wasn’t easy. “It was intense work. For anyone, but at my age, boy, it was a workout.”