The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After 15 years, fame is arriving for Naomi Watts

But the British-born, Australian-raised actress says it comes at a price — having to explain over and over again what one of the world's most incomprehensible films is all about.

The film is David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, which starts off with blue-eyed, blonde-haired Watts playing a Hollywood ingenue and then changes into half a dozen other plots leaving viewers uncertain as to what it was all about or who she really is.

“I'm sure I'm going to be asked what Mulholland Drive means until I'm on my death bed,” she says with a laugh. “No matter how great a role I get or how many movies I make, this is the movie that will keep people guessing,” she said. The role was her big break in Hollywood and earned Watts several awards and offers, including one she accepted in the thriller The Ring.

That film, which opened in the United States last month, is the tale of a video that kills people within seven days of being watched.

It is one of four upcoming movies that stars Watts, 34, making her poised to become the latest member of the “Aussie Posse” — including pals from Down Under such as Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and her beau Heath Ledger — to win stardom in the US.

Watts is the first to admit she's still unknown to many Americans. “I'm not recognised on the street and I don't think the public (is) aware of me yet,” Watts said in an interview.

“It's possible that this may change with The Ring as it is a film that will appeal to the masses.” For now, she said the only thing new is that she is getting the chance to work with people she respects. “It's just great, because I worked and worked and worked and fought to meet with the people that have inspired me and had not been able to get near them,” she said.

All modesty aside, Watts is more of a name than she admits.

The actress, who was once famously photographed with close friend Kidman during her friend's high-profile divorce from Tom Cruise, has seen the spotlight more often in recent weeks at several premieres and at the Hollywood Movie Awards, where she arrived with Ledger to pick up the Breakthrough Acting Award.

Well-known in Australia before moving to Hollywood in 1992, Watts has mixed feelings about her emerging fame and lack of privacy in Hollywood.

While declining to comment on her romance with Ledger, which has become a subject for the tabloids, Watts talks freely about her relationship with the media.

“It's a new experience for me and I wish it wasn't there for other people to judge,” she said. “I'm trying to separate myself from it and not be too conscious of it, but at the same time, I don't have a particularly thick skin.”

“I think of myself as an observer and always have done. I like to watch,” she added. “The thought of that turning in on me, does scare me a little bit.”

But she said she has resolved to overcome the fear. “Even if I do get harassed, I'm not going to be held hostage in my house because I'm afraid to go out,” she said.

Watts was in the popular Australian television series Home and Away and co-starred with Kidman in the film Flirting and appeared in forgettable films such as Matinee and Tank Girl, before winning rave reviews for Mulholland Drive.

Overcoming adversity is nothing new to Watts, who could not afford to go to movies in her youth. She recalls an unconventional childhood as the daughter of a single mother who moved around much of England before moving to Australia. Her parents split when she was four and her father died a few years later.

“I lived all over England. My mom was a single mom and she was trying to find her feet a bit,” she said. Her mother was very creative, she said.

Watts says she decided to become an actress when she was about five-years-old and saw her mother, a then-aspiring actress, performing on stage.

Following her instincts has apparently turned out well. In addition to The Ring, Watts will also be seen in Plots with a View.

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