Hollywood Life August 2003

Five on the Line: Naomi Watts

As Hollywood Watches how its summer fare fares at the box office, the industry measures the fortunes of the stars in these movies, too. Here are five stars who'll be sweating through the summer heat.

Naomi Watts Le Divorce
By the time she was "discovered" two years ago for her razor-wire, attention-getting performance in David Lynch's Mulholland Dr., Naomi Watts had been slogging her way through forgettable films for over a decade. It took someone as finely-tuned as Lynch to mine what was there for the taking in Watts-smarts, complexity, a hint of damage and a dangerous sexuality under a glossy blondeness. Mulholland Dr. was too odd and too challenging a film to be big box office, but Watts's follow-up, The Ring, was a smash. Between the two films, the long-struggling actress suddenly had critical and popular credibility. As different as Mulholland Dr. and The Ring were, though, they both unfolded in nightmarish realms. Hollywood needs to see her in some different light, since one of her most remarkable qualities, displayed in cameo form during the much talked-about "audition" scene in Mulholland Dr., is the chameleon-like range that backs up her leadinglady looks. This season's Le Divorce, the James Ivory-directed movie version of Diane Johnson's urbane, neo-Jamesian morality tale in which she plays the pregnant, stressed, about-to-be-divorced sister of film school dropout Kate Hudson, provides a perfect showcase. If Watts nails her sunny turn in such brioche-and-Camembert fare and the film succeeds on its art-house terms, she can prove she's at home in either darkness or light, and that will vastly broaden the scope of material offered to her-ultimately, creative breathing space and enhanced longevity are the issues here, rather than simply money.

Copyright 2003 Movieline's Hollywood Life

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