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Bruce Newman's Sundance Journal





Sunday, January 23, 2005

Naomi Watts Cuts My Heart Out and Stomps On It (Or She Would If She Could Find It)

People keep telling me that when one door closes, another one opens. And while this sounds like really good advice, somehow it seems a lot more emotionally satisfying to stand outside the closed door, pounding as hard as I can.

Which is why we are here this morning to discuss the heartless treachery of Naomi Watts, formerly one of my favorite actresses, now...not so much.

Let me go back a few years.

I met Naomi Watts for the first time at Sundance four years ago at a daytime party hosted by the New York Times. The then-Hollywood correspondent for the Times, Rick Lyman, is one of my oldest college friends; after you've seen a person eating Stovetop Stuffing directly from the box, it's actually quite amusing to watch gorgeous Hollywood starlets thrusting themselves at him, hoping for a shred of attention. Watts was then almost a complete unknown (she'd had a supporting role in "Tank Girl," and you can't get much more unknown than that), and she was at the festival with a short film called "Ellie Parker," about a young, uknown actress going from one audition to another. She was completely charming.

She also mentioned that she'd completed a David Lynch film called "Mulholland Drive"--about which, at that point, no one knew anything--and by the time I met Watts again later that year in San Francisco to discuss that picture, it was clear she was a star. That's how fast it can happen.

Cut to this year's festival, to which Watts has returned with "Ellie Parker," now a full-length feature with her name above the title. But it's still an ultra-low budget project, shot on video by her friend Scott Coffey, who made the original short. It's a classic Sundance story, from rags to, well, better rags, and I had requested an interview with her to discuss it. We were to meet Saturday at 12:45 at the Blind Dog, a restaurant with wildly overpriced food next door to the festival headquarters.

At 12:25, Watts' publicist called on my cell with a fluttery British accent to say that Naomi was very sorry, but she was cutting her interviews a half-hour short, and as I was the last person on her shedyule, well, she was so, so sorry. A few minutes later, she called back and, sounding confused, asked who this was. When I told her it was still me, and I was still unhappy to have arranged my entire day around this interview--now roadkill--she said she was so, so sorry and hung up.

An hour later, I was talking to Keira Knightley, one of the stars of "The Jacket," another budding star who is all of 19. Sometimes when another door opens, you just have to go ahead and walk through it.

1 Comments:

Blogger Howard said...

At least she didn't call at 1:25, when you would not only have lost an hour, but probably spent way too much money on breadsticks & water. (Allison again)

January 23, 2005 at 6:26 PM  

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