What's Most Important To Naomi Watts When Acting With Kids - Exclusive

Although W.C. Fields was popularly misquoted as saying "Never work with children or animals" (in fact, that's not even the original quote, nor did Fields actually come up with it), acting opposite both has been a staple of movie actors' lives almost since the medium was invented.

Children (according to anecdotal reports) can be notoriously unpredictable on set, reputedly able to steal any scene from their adult collaborators, and may not always be able to distinguish between what is real and what is make-believe during filming.

When it comes to difficult or frightening material, adult actors and filmmakers, along with the child's parents and sometimes even on-set counselors, can help the children as they perform emotionally fraught or terrifying scenes — although many former child actors have actually said they've had good experiences on the horror movies they are famous for.

For seasoned actor Naomi Watts, who has worked with children in horror movies like "The Ring" as well as intense dramas such as "The Impossible," she felt particularly protective toward her young co-stars in the new psychological thriller "Goodnight Mommy." "It was so important to me," she told The List in an exclusive interview. "It was important for me to keep checking in on them."

What she did to keep her co-stars feeling safe

In "Goodnight Mommy," Naomi Watts plays an actress who undergoes facial cosmetic surgery, necessitating that her head is completely covered with medical wrapping while she heals. After an extended absence during her initial recovery, her twin sons (played by Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) come back to live with her.

But changes in their mother's behavior lead the boys to believe that she isn't their mother at all. An unnerving game of psychological and ultimately physical torment between the boys and their mother begins to escalate. Watts told us that she was always concerned for the brothers' state of mind when the cameras weren't rolling.

"100%," she said. "I had multiple conversations with their mom, and I knew that they were pros coming in. They'd done quite a large amount of work already. Oftentimes, you're working with actors who are children and it's their first time, so I didn't have to worry about that part so much."

Nevertheless, Watts explained that the nature of the story in "Goodnight Mommy" and her actions as the mother still made her feel responsible for their well-being. "No matter what they were telling me or what their mom was telling me and what the director Matt [Sobel] was telling me, it was important for me to keep checking in on them and also short circuit the dark train of thought that might be going on."

She added, "By no means did I ever want to show up in their dreams at night as a woman who was torturing them. I wanted to get rid of any of those dark thoughts by playing a game or being silly and goofy and reminding them that this is not real."

"Goodnight Mommy" is streaming now on Prime Video.