The Stunning Transformation Of Naomi Watts

For a lot of people, Naomi Watts seemingly shot to stardom overnight after her Hollywood debut in "Mulholland Drive." Watts herself admits that her career certainly feels split in two: before and after the movie. She told The Independent that the movie changed everything for her, explaining, "Certainly, since 'Mulholland Drive,' I've had much more opportunity to pick and choose projects. I've had moments where my picker is off, and things have not turned out as well as I hope, but I'm always looking to do new things and change it up."

And it certainly does seem that might be the case. Before landing the role through David Lynch's infamous headshot process (per Instagram), Watts had worked in Australia off and on as both an actress and a model but hadn't had much luck with either career path. But once she started being offered seriously good roles, Watts never looked back.

In addition to acting, Watts has enjoyed life so far with her two children with ex-boyfriend Liev Schreiber, as well as her life with her boyfriend of several years, Billy Crudup. Here's a look into how one girl born to parents in England ended up becoming one of the most famous people in the world.

Naomi Watts wished her parents weren't so 'cool'

Naomi Watts was born to two creative parents who were both young when they had her, though she didn't specify their ages in her lengthy interview with The Guardian. Her parents, Myfanwy Roberts and Peter Watts, were better known as "Miv" and "Puddy," respectively, and Miv spent her time working as a model while Puddy was the sound engineer for Pink Floyd. In fact, the publication notes that Puddy almost missed Naomi's birth entirely because he was on tour with the band. 

Naomi shared that she doesn't have many photos from her early childhood, likely due to the fact that her parents divorced when she was 4 years old, but she did tell The Guardian that despite the cool factor her parents gave off, she always wanted them to be different. She said, "I'd had enough of cool. I didn't want cool. I wanted my parents to wear three-piece suits and tweed, not leather pants and four-inch platform boots."

Her dad died when she was young

Soon after her parents' divorce, Naomi Watts received the tragic news that her father had passed away at the age of 31. Her mother, Miv Roberts, claimed the death was due to a drug overdose. Watts told The Guardian that Pink Floyd stepped up to help Roberts out, giving the young mother and her daughter "a few thousand dollars to help get things under way. A lump sum, to help. It was kind that they did that." 

Things got tough for the twosome from there, as Roberts had to find work and quickly. Watts shared that they moved around a lot, resulting in the young girl being confronted with new friend groups again and again. As she put it, it wasn't exactly her dream childhood. Watts explained, "I just remember always wanting to be something else. Quite sad, isn't it?"

She added that the seemingly constant moves meant she was always reinventing herself in an attempt to relate to her peers. This meant she was often asking herself, "'How do I get into that group? How do I get accepted? Who should I be? Who do you want me to be?'" She said this later impacted her career, as she often went into auditions wondering what side of her the director might really want to see.

Naomi Watts moved to Australia and met Nicole Kidman

Naomi Watts was 14 years old and just beginning to settle into herself when her mother moved her yet again — this time all the way to an entirely new country, Australia. Watts was upset by the decision, but her mother made a promise that changed everything when she offered to pay for acting lessons once they arrived in Sydney.

Watts also experienced a bit of culture shock, having arrived to the country from Suffolk, England. As she put it to The Guardian, "The kids had drawn on their uniforms and they had weird haircuts. I'd come from a school where it was socks to the knees. Bottle-green checked knickers. This was a whole new world." But the move ended up being quite fortuitous, as a teenage Watts was soon introduced to Nicole Kidman, who would become a lifelong friend.

Naomi Watts and Nicole Kidman were cast together in the Australian movie "Flirting" in 1991, and Watts later recalled that they passed the time by gossiping between scene changes. She later told "The Jess Cagle Interview" that their friendship was truly cemented during the experience. "We've gone through a lot together over a significant amount of time. That history binds you," she said.

Naomi Watts' career developed slowly

Naomi Watts' career certainly didn't take off overnight. After moving to Australia, she dabbled in TV, appearing in show called "Home & Away," and worked as a model (via The Guardian). In fact, as Watts later told the British publication Far Out Magazine, at the age of 18, she had decided to pursue modeling full time. She signed with an agency, who sent her to Japan on a few shoots that didn't work out. 

After returning to Australia, Watts needed to figure out what she would do next. She picked up work as an editor at a magazine, but it didn't stick; she was soon invited to attend an acting workshop and she made the decision to go. From there, she moved to the United States and Nicole Kidman helped her secure meetings with agents in Hollywood.

Unfortunately, she soon discovered that the move meant she was starting over from the ground up. As she put it, the process took some time. Watts explained, "I get offered some things without auditioning today, but back then they wouldn't even fax me the pages of a script because it was too much of an inconvenience."

Her big break was Mulholland Drive

Naomi Watts picked up the phone one day and learned that director David Lynch was interested in bringing her onboard the cast of his upcoming film "Mulholland Drive." She was initially uninterested, as she believed Lynch was completely uninterested in her during the audition. She explained to The Guardian, "The last time I'd flown to LA for an audition, the guy had his eyes closed. I'd decided I was never going to do it again, never rearrange my plans or spend a single dime." However, it seems that fate or luck had different plans, and Lynch pursued Watts after literally picking her headshot out of a pile (per Instagram).

Film critic Roger Ebert praised the film, noting that Watts was "a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, a plucky girl detective" in her role as Betty, who is, coincidentally enough, also an actress. As The Guardian noted, Watts was particularly powerful in a scene that has her auditioning for an off-putting group of casting directors, which is likely something with which she had more than enough experience. 

Naomi Watts' career took off in the 2000s

Once "Mulholland Drive" hit theaters, Naomi Watts experienced a true boom in her career. She was subsequently cast in several memorable roles, including the 2003 movie "21 Grams" and Peter Jackson's 2005 take on "King Kong." While success came a little later in life, by the time she was able to get any role she wanted, Watts had a very clear understanding of what work she wanted to pursue. She told The Guardian, "I turned down giant [paychecks], giant opportunities — my agents were flummoxed. But I knew what I liked by then. I had a strong understanding of my taste."

She later told that "King Kong" wasn't exactly the kind of movie she might have taken if Peter Jackson hadn't been attached. As she put it, the risk that the movie would have been too focused on the helplessness of her character was too great, but she felt Jackson would bring something compelling to the story. She said, "I don't think I could have just signed on had it not have been someone like Peter as I would have been concerned that it would have just been too much of an action movie and a damsel in distress."

She met Liev Schreiber in 2005 and fell in love

Naomi Watts was attending the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005 when she met fellow actor Liev Schreiber. Things between the two were pretty instantaneous, with Schreiber once telling Esquire that Watts was like a "ray of light" the night they reconnected after meeting years earlier. Watts invited him out dancing at a club and he showed up, but Schreiber admitted to feeling "awkward." He was walking out of the club when Watts asked if he wanted her number. While work kept them apart for some time, they built a relationship through email that eventually turned into a real-life love that lasted over a decade.

People reported that Watts took Schreiber back home to Australia in 2006 for the holidays, after a string of public dates at concerts. The pair most notably attended a U2 show together, an outing that was later followed by a party after a Sting concert. Schreiber admitted to Esquire that he fell for Watts hard and fast, sharing, "For better or for worse, I stepped into a partnership with somebody. We were gonna bring kids into this world and try to love and respect each other."

She had two children with Liev Schreiber

Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber welcomed a son together in July 2007. The baby, named Alexander Pete, was born in Los Angeles. In the month ahead of Alexander's birth, Watts had told People that she was enjoying pregnancy completely, explaining, "[I'm] just being relaxed and moving at a much slower pace and enjoying it. I'm just really happy to be pregnant."

The twosome became parents for a second time in December of the following year when Kai arrived. In an Instagram post celebrating Kai's 13th birthday in 2021, Watts shared, "You shine the brightest light, from the depth of your soul, we feel it. Thank you for choosing me as your mummy. I'm beyond proud of you."

Watts has admitted to wanting more children, though it seems that she is more than happy with her two. The Daily Mail noted that she once shared she planned to have kids before she turned 30, saying, "I always thought that I would have had kids by 30. I'd like five more. But five is excessive, particularly for someone my age. I'd love three. That might be pushing it, so two."

Naomi Watts separated from Liev Schreiber in 2016

After 11 years of being in a relationship, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber separated in 2016. The two announced their split in September 2016 with a statement that began, "Over the past few months we've come to the conclusion that the best way forward for us as a family is to separate as a couple." While the news surprised fans of the couple, there had been gossip for years. Sources on set of Schreiber's show "Ray Donovan" admitted to People, "They have been on the rocks for quite a while." 

Schreiber has been open through the years about the family's bicoastal lifestyle, as they often split their time between New York City and Los Angeles. In more recent years, he admitted to working in California as Watts stayed with the kids back in New York, telling talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, "You have to put them first at a certain point, and the back-and-forth thing can get tough."

Fortunately, the pair appear to have remained on friendly terms, as Watts most shared a photo on Instagram of the foursome in honor of Schreiber's birthday in October 2021.

She returned to TV in 2017

In 2017, Naomi Watts returned to television for the 10-episode series "Gypsy," in which she played a cognitive behavioral therapist who inserts herself into the lives of the patients with whom she is working. Watts took the role seriously, investing her own money in a $400-an-hour cognitive behavioral therapist of her own as part of her research, according to The Guardian. She explained to Women's Health magazine that learning more about the role was fascinating, saying, "I found the research very interesting. It felt like a practical way of dealing with and managing specific issues within a certain time frame."

Her role as Jean Holloway was complex; as The Guardian put it, the character feels so distraught by her own life that she begins to create new identities for herself to so she can explore the lives of her patients. As Watts stated, the central core of the series is something that a lot of people can relate to. She said, "Gypsy's all about wanting the things you don't have." Watts also admitted to taking on the role in the hopes that it would help her understand more about who she is. She noted, "There has to be a point of doing it."

The show was also filmed in New York, which allowed Watts to be close to her two children. She explained, "I have kids in school. I can't go on the road at the drop of a hat now."

Naomi Watts invested in her own skincare company in 2019

Acting isn't all that Naomi Watts is good at these days. In 2019, she invested in a skincare line called Onda, becoming a full-fledged partner in the business. Onda is focused on non-toxic skincare products, which Watts was exposed to on a visit to see a friend, magazine editor Larissa Thomson. As she told Women's Health magazine, her own skin wasn't in a great place and she'd left her regular products at home, so Thomson loaned some of her own. Watts explained that she believes her long hours acting coupled with hormonal changes and the use of products filled with chemicals took its toll, saying, "Using clean products made an immediate difference."

One thing lead to another, and Watts had soon partnered with Sarah Bryden-Brown to work on Onda. These days, she's fairly hands on with the brand, often involved in the choosing and testing of new products to add to the line, but when it comes to her own skincare routine, she's quick to admit that it's not complicated. In fact, she doesn't wash her face at all in the morning, telling Women's Health that she goes for a double-cleanse in the evening instead.

Naomi Watts handled 2020 about as well as the rest of us

The year 2020 was a pretty major one, as the coronavirus pandemic changed life as we knew it in a lot of ways. Naomi Watts definitely felt those changes like the rest of us. She admitted to Women's Health magazine that the extended time at home wasn't the best for her, even causing her to compromise her own creativity. She shared, "I'm finding that it's hard to get through a lot of things. My attention span is just not as good as it could be, but I have had days where I've had creative moments and conversations with people where we've actually come up with ideas."

In April 2020, Watts shared her own at-home quarantine meltdown moment when she admitted to the internet that several of her home appliances had broken on the same day. As shared by Page Six, the actress had to contend with a broken printer, vacuum, and dishwasher in the span of 24 hours. We're guessing she kept her cool by snacking on some dessert. A month earlier, Watts had shared a photo on Instagram of herself eating cake alongside the caption, "Quarantine PROTIP: EAT your feelings."

In 2022, she debuted a new movie and a new boyfriend

In 2022, Naomi Watts starred in a movie called "The Desperate Hour." The film reportedly lives up to its name, as it follows the story of a woman who receives a phone call that there is an active shooting at her son's school. 

Watts told Looper that the role was both physical and emotional. Her character receives news of the school shooting after she's gone on her morning run in the forest, and much of the film is shot as she's making her way back toward the town the school is in. As she explained, the team had to come up with an effective way to film. She said, "We discovered very early on that the best way to shoot it was to do these really long takes that meant I was covering two or three miles of ground and that I was doing 12 or 15 pages of dialogue."

The year 2022 was also the one during which Watts and her boyfriend of four years, actor Billy Crudup, stepped out on the red carpet together. As Page Six shared, the pair met while filming "Gypsy" together in 2017.