Naomi Watts, Diana & Funny Games

Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts stars in Clint Eastwood's latest film, 'J. Edgar'.

Naomi Watts was born September 28, 1968, in Shoreham, England. She moved with her family to Sydney, Australia at the age of 14. She went to school with Nicole Kidman, who remains a close friend.

Most recently seen in the undeerwhelming 'Diana', directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.

Watts starred as J.Edgar Hoover's longtime secretary Helen Gandy in Clint Eastwood's slow and disappointing 'J.Edgar'.

Watts' best movies are 'Funny Games' (2007), 'Fair Game' (2010), 'Mulholland Drive' (2001) directed by David Lynch, 'Eastern Promises' (2007), and '21 Grams' (2003).

Her worst movies are 'Dream House' (2011), The Ring 2 (2005) and Persons Unknown (1996).

By far her most challenging and controversial movie -- one of the most frightening movies ever made -- is 'Funny Games' (2007) by Austrian director Michael Haneke. Funny Games is an anti-horror horror film that has provoked and upset audiences all over the world. Even hardened critics have walked out of the movie.

It's about two young sociopaths who terrorize, torture and kill families in their vacation homes. There is no motive to the violent behavior. As the movie title suggests, it's merely a game to the two youngsters.

Haneke's purpose is to make audiences think about their participation in the horror genre, and to ask themselves whether torture, gore, and mindless violence are suitable forms of entertainment.

The 2007 version of Funny Games is a scene-by-scene remake of Haneke's 1998 German language Funny Games, which starred Susanne Lothar and Ulrich Muhe.

In the remake, Watts' husband is played by Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt and Bradey Corbet play the two sociopaths.

Haneke insisted to his backers that Watts was the only choice for the wife. She says: It was put to me that he only wanted me and while that felt like a huge amount of pressure, it was also very flattering and sort of slightly seductive in a way because he's someone whose work I admire greatly. He's worked with fantastic actresses before -- Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert. I'm major fans of theirs.

It made me think that an artist that I admire respects my work and he's that passionate about it, and so it made me want to do it. It's probably just a bold-faced tactic of his but it wasn't an easy decision to make for me. I wouldn't make this film with just anyone. It's by no means a no-brainer.

When Watts saw the German original, she says: I was repulsed and terrified. Apart from my obvious reactions about the movie itself, to do the remake was terrifying and that always interests me, being afraid of something.

Once I spoke to Haneke, I understood what he was trying to do. The remake is risky and controversial. She had doubts an American audience would take to an intellectual movie maker like Haneke, and she was not sure Americans would understand the film. Would they get it or would it just aggravate them? But I think it was always Michael's intention to get under the skin of the audience. He says, very matter-of-factly, 'This is hard work. I dare you to go there'.

It really was one of those films that stays with you and gets under your skin. At the time, when I saw it, it brought up so much, I had to discuss it. I couldn't believe how Haneke played with the audience and tricked us, and commented on his trickery the whole time.

Watts expected that some people are just going to be repulsed and not enjoy the ride because it is so disturbing. I don't think that it's supposed to be enjoyed ... You're supposed to participate and be a part of the film and walk away feeling richer for the experience, for knowing and understanding your place as an audience member better.

The next violent film that you see, you'll perhaps be more conscious and mindful of those moments where ordinarily we'd sit there and go, 'Yeah!' and brains are splattering everywhere.

She explains that Haneke is trying to build awareness of what he feels violence is. By depicting it in a very authentic way it becomes very, very grotesque and brutal even though he never actually gives it to you. Although, he does in one isolated moment and then he says, 'No. You can't have it. I know you want it.' So those people might feel very angry, but I think that's the point of the film.

Filming the movie was not easy: It made for a tense feeling on the set. We were all affected by what we were doing. At times, we were having to get off the set for a while just to break away from it. And other times, we would just stay right there, crack some ridiculous jokes, and work our way through it.

Fortunately, Tim Roth has a fantastic sense of humor, and he'd do whatever he could to create some kind of reprieve. As for Haneke, he's a very gentle man. He's very soft-spoken and sweet, but incredibly intelligent. He knows so much about everything. Ultimately, I trusted him at every turn, even if I struggled with the material or had different ideas about it. I did my best to give him whatever he wanted.

Watts has a number of exciting upcoming projects. She stars in the 2011 remake of Alfred Hitchcock's 1963 thriller The Birds about a flock of birds that take over a northern California town.

Later in 2011, she'll be in movie theaters with Dream House directed by Jim Sheridan. It stars Daniel Craig and his new real-life love Rachel Weisz.

Buy Naomi Watts' hottest movies: Funny Games (2008), The Ring (Widescreen Edition), Eastern Promises (Widescreen Edition), King Kong (Widescreen Edition).

The hottest stars under 30: See Megan Fox, Rooney Mara, and Kristen Stewart


By Athina Simonidou