Naomi Watts on Starring in Woody Allen’s New Movie
New Woody Allen! New Woody Allen! New York’s best-loved nebbish is about to start working on Midnight in Paris, a movie starring Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard, Rachel McAdams, Kathy Bates and … Carla Bruni? Production on the romantic comedy will begin in Paris this summer. It follows, according to the press release, a “family traveling to the city for business. The party includes a young engaged couple that has their lives transformed throughout the journey. The film celebrates a young man’s great love for Paris, and simultaneously explores the illusion people have that a life different from their own is better.” This is all well and good — and, well, slightly aspirational if Wilson is meant to portray a young Woody — but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There’s another Allen movie to contend with first: You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, scheduled for a late-2010 release. We recently spoke about that one with its star, actress Naomi Watts (whom you’ll be seeing more of on this site shortly).
How you did get involved with You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger? I really wanted to work with Woody. I’d actually been offered parts in two of his other films, but couldn’t take them because of scheduling.
What were the other ones? Melinda and Melinda and … the one with Colin Farrell [Cassandra’s Dream]. I can’t remember the name. I didn’t even get to read that one. But I read Melinda and really wanted to do it. I so badly wanted to work with him but I figured, after turning down two offers, I wasn’t going to get invited back. But he came back a third time! Someone brought over the script for me to read right away. His writing is just so good. I got to the set and loved it — talk about star-struck! There are projects here and there that I get kind of giddy over and that was definitely one of them.
What is this movie about? It centers on Josh Brolin’s character, my husband in the film. He is a writer and things aren’t going well for him and our relationship. I want a baby and he doesn’t. There’s one twist in it that I don’t want to go into, but he’s trying to try to find a way to start his second book. He’s written one and he’s kind of scared of being a flash in the pan. I’m like, “Okay, if you’re not going to give me a baby, I’m going to get my career back. I need something in my life.” I’ve got this mother who is sort of crazy and into the whole New Age-y thing. She can’t stand my husband because, basically, we’re living off her money. Everyone’s doing mean things to one another. There’s no massive plot.
Had you met Woody prior to working with him? Maybe for five minutes at a function, but otherwise, no. We met on the set when I came to do a camera test. It was so bizarre. Normally, you have an e-mail or a phone conversation. But with this, nothing. Nothing.
Was his demeanor what you expected? People had told me that he doesn’t give you any direction. But Sean [Penn, who starred in Allen’s Sweet and Lowdown] was telling me a different experience. Scarlett [Johansson; Match Point, Scoop and Vicky Cristina Barcelona] was telling me something different than that. But Woody and I talked all the time. I was like, “What is this thing about? This reputation you’ve got that you don’t speak to people? That you don’t direct?” He said, “Sometimes, I get nervous that I’m giving an actor too much to think about.” And that’s true, because we did a single shot for almost each and every scene in the film — four or five pages of the script with almost every character. You had better not fuck up because its going to take an hour to re-set and do the whole thing again. Maybe I’m exaggerating, but if I mess up the last line on a six-page scene, everybody has to do it again because of me. Woody said, “I don’t like to break an actor’s concentration. There are certain actors I’ve never spoken a word to, but I’ve worked with them five times.”