Emmanuel Itier: What are you wearing?
Naomi Watts: This is a Vera Wang T-shirt, and that's all I know. [Laughs]
EI: For some of us, everytime we ask those questions, we don't know what the answer is.
NW: Yeah right. [Laughs] What's Vera Wang? She's a good designer.
EI: What was the attraction with The International?
NW: Well, many, starting with Clive [Owen] and Tom [Tykwer, director], I would say. I've always been a fan of Clive's work, and was pretty familiar with Tom's work too, and so that was what led me to reading the script. It's a good, fast, page-turner and a thinking-man's thriller, and good characters within a heavy plot. I met with Tom and I was thinking, this is a huge film. I don't know if I can do this. I was told about the dates and I thought there's just no way. I had a baby due around the time. And so Tom and I sat down and he said, "Look, I can make this doable for you. I can condense your dates," and he went away and came back and said we can actually do it in five weeks, despite all the travel and everything.
EI: So the schedule was sort of geared to your needs...
NW: Yeah, by the time I got to Berlin, they had been shooting for about eight weeks already, doing all the end of the film basically, the Guggenheim and all that, so I shot three weeks in Berlin, and then two weeks in Milan. But it was definitely still a struggle with a newborn. I had a three-month-old baby.
EI: How did you do the action scenes, being pregnant?
NW: No, I wasn't pregnant by that point. I had a three month old.
EI: Was that exhausting?
NW: At about the six week point, I started exercising again and got strong again. But yeah, I mean, I'm always a pretty physical person, and so I didn't feel too bad, certainly not when you compare it to other things that I've done, like King Kong.
EI: Can you talk about Clive Owen and the attraction to working with an actor like that? For some of us, stretching back, we were hoping he was going to be the next Bond. And now, I'm glad he wasn't because we ended up with a cool Bond, and he's sort of the anti-Bond in this kind of movie. I'm intrigued by this kind of rugged masculinity -- a rumpled, messy thing that he does in this. That's kind of fascinating.
NW: Yeah, he's terrific in the film, and yeah it makes it so human, doesn't it? You can relate to the character a lot more if he's not too slick and glossy and he's got his inner turmoil going on, and Whitman is someone who's trying to keep him on the straight and narrow and keep him together and not get too emotional...
EI: Can you comment on masculinity on the screen in that context?
NW: Yeah, well she's operating very much in a man's world and she has to be strong. I met with an M.A.D.A (Manhattan Assistant District Attorney) in New York before I started filming, and she said there's no time for girlyness, there's no time for that sort of running around in little cute suits and high heels. It's like we're on the job, we're dealing with this, and if you want to be taken seriously, particularly by the cops [laughs] and all the other men and women around you, there's no frills, and yeah, they have a great working relationship. They're bouncing off each other all the time, and they rely on one another and trust each other, and although she operates very much from an above-board background, she doesn't want to get too crazy and go off course. She is the law, so she's keeping him focused.
EI: How do you approach a scene with text-messaging? I think a lot of movies that have you read them out loud could be silly 'cause no one really does that. So how do you, as a performer, approach it when you're just sent messages back and forth?
NW: Yeah, that's where we are. In the world, everything is like this. It's like he-said and she-said [laughs], so you can tap into that quite easily, and thankfully I have my own Blackberry that I'm completely addicted to and could type very fast, and so I can keep the tension as well as type. [Laughs]
EI: So you don't have stunt hands?
NW: No, they were my own. [Laughs]
EI: Did you want to do your stunts by yourself, or were you happy that you didn't have to?
NW: I was quite happy not to.
EI: This film has no car chases in it. I kept waiting for one to happen. I was so thankful it didn't. Any comments on that?
NW: I think that it's just as exciting without, and there's no lack of momentum or speed in this film. It moves very, very fast and the tension is never lost. But that finale scene in the Guggenheim was its own kind of chase scene [laughs], without the cars.
EI: Everybody would expect a romantic link to these two characters. When you were reading the script...
NW: Well, there was an almost-romantic scene that, obviously, Tom decided at the last minute to edit out. I think the great thing about Tom is he's so focused on authenticity that he probably just didn't feel it rang true and it was awkward, and so he decided to get rid of it. But it was even so slight, it was like one of those moments where they're caught up in tension, emotion, and they almost kiss...
EI: Were they in the back of a car?
NW: No, they were in the hotel room, and it also was placed very early on in the film, after their colleague, Schumer, was killed, and one of those kind of emotional moments, leaning on the shoulder and suddenly..."oh dear, are they about to kiss...?"
EI: She holds back?
NW: Not necessarily. [Laughs]
EI: What about the balance in your life right now? It's a classic thing, I think, for women -- what do you do? You've got kids and you've got a career. How do you see for yourself at this point?
NW: Well, I'm still trying to figure it out. This film, The International, is the only one I've done since I've been a mom, so I think it's going to be an endless struggle. Your family is something that you'll always have to put first, or will want to put first, so while I'm someone who doesn't want to give up my work, I love what I do. I will have to consider things carefully and how it will affect the family, and can we be on the road for this amount of time, and if we're separated, how long for, and all those things.
EI: What has been a big surprise about motherhood? Has anything been exactly what you expected?
NW: Well, I knew that everyone goes through a monumental amount of sleep depravation, but you can never prepare for that. It's brutal. [Laughs]
EI: Do you drink a lot more coffee now?
NW: Well, not right now because I'm breastfeeding. But yeah, the biggest surprise is I cannot remember anything. I cannot. I call it lactose lobotomy. [Laughs] I've literally lost half my brain. I don't know when it's coming back. Actually, it was halved and then halved again. [Laughs] So yeah, I go back to work on a film next week. I'm just doing ten days on a little film called Mother and Child, and I'm just trying to work out how I'm going to remember my dialogue. [Laughs]
EI: How much sleep are you going on today?
NW: I had three and a half hours last night. It's not always like that. It's also just because we came from New York and the jet lag, and one is waking up the other...
EI: How old are they now?
NW: I have an 18-month-old and a five-and-a-half-week-old.
EI: Are you the mother of your child in this movie?
NW: No. Well, you'll have to wait and see, but it starts out as I'm the child of Annette Bening. I know that sounds like a stretch, but she had me at 14, so... [Laughs]
EI: Do you have any favorite scenes from the movie?
NW: Well, I'd have to say the Guggenheim scene is pretty amazing, and I'm not one to like a lot of gunfire, but it's just spectacular -- just the set and the tension. I'd have to think about other ones that I like.
EI: When I saw this film, I was a bit confused. Your character is a Manhattan District Attorney that the bank wants you guys chasing. So why is she involved in the investigation?
NW: Because we've all been affected by it, and I think the size and level of corruption that these people are involved in is affecting us universally, and so we've been brought in on it. Clive's character works for Interpol and he's pulled us in.
EI: There's a line in the film where she says the bank in New York -- the branch -- is laundering the funds. Did you make a back story on why she became a district attorney and she has a kid? She has a husband, but there is no information about this family.
NW: Unfortunately not. I would have loved to have done a whole lot more scenes and developed more of it, but the focus of the story is really told more through Clive's. He's the protagonist and I'm supporting him, so if they dwelled on that, then perhaps it would slow the story down. But yeah, I think the conflict for her, of balancing both and being a good mom and being good at her work and being very connected to this case for such a long time, that was an appealing character for me -- someone who struggles with that conflict, 'cause I'm about to start doing that myself. [Laughs]
EI: What about the car crash -- the scene where you get hit by the car...that was a great scene. Was that hard to do?
NW: I didn't do the stunt, and I have no interest in doing that. It was hard enough lying on the piece of cold road that they had me lie on for a couple of hours. Wet cold road. That wasn't that bad. But yeah, that was a good scene, I think the stunt worked really well. I watched it, though. I was very carefully watching. [Laughs]
EI: You weren't hit by a car?
NW: I watched the stunt girl do it. That was good. It's very informative, 'cause then you have to work out what you've been through and how do you play the next moment...
EI: How much personal paranoia do you have...?
NW: That's very scary. With what's going on right now, I've made several calls to my business manager and said, "What do we need to do here? [Laughs] Shall I bring around a few suitcases? [Laughs] Or briefcases?!"
EI: Do you see this film at all as a call to action to people to maybe be more conscious of what's being done with their money?
NW: Yeah, you just have no idea. Banks are very powerful things and they talk you into doing all kinds of things with your money, despite what you're really capable of doing with your money and what you should be...and that's how people get so hideously in debt. And this particular bank, it's so ugly and grim, and there are so many people involved, it just doesn't stop. And it's impossible to expose them. That's what I loved about the film -- is that these two characters are standing up and going against something, despite their odds, and the very people that should be policing them are fueling the whole system.
EI: Did you ever have credit card debt?
NW: No, actually, coming from a family where we didn't really have money, I never overspent beyond my means. I was always very careful. In fact, I think I've borrowed money once in my life.
EI: When you were a struggling young actor, then, you were very careful about: "I'm never going to get myself in a position where I'm going to have to try and take some other job to pay off my bills..."?
NW: Yes. I mean, I have worked in many jobs, but pretty much since I came to America, I've not needed to, and that's been since my early 20s, yeah.
EI: Valentine's Day is coming up. This might be too soon with a five-week-old, but are you doing something for Valentine's Day? Do you make a big deal out of it?
NW: [Laughs] No, I guess it became a bigger thing once I moved to America, but I haven't thought about what's happening this Valentine's Day, no. I always do something little. I guess, write a card or something. [Laughs]
EI: It looks like a quick scene, it happens so quickly, but these two kids running toward you -- was that a cut scene? Because I don't remember that from the movie.
NW: Oh yeah, that was the scene we shot and it's in the trailer right? Yeah, I think so, and it's something again that was cut down because I suppose they just had to trim. But yeah, without giving anything too much away, this is a woman who is trying to balance her family and her work, and her family is very important to her and she's traveling from one place to another, but her family is something that she always has to go back to.
EI: Who are those kids?
NW: They were mine.
EI: Is it less painful for actors now that deleted scenes show up in DVDs? Does it make any difference?
NW: [Laughs] Not really, no.
EI: It's not like, whoa this is this treasured little scene that...?
NW: I mean, it's nice if you were attached to that movie, it's always painful seeing a movie for the first time as an actor 'cause you think, "Oh but that moment -- I put so much into it, it meant so much, and it was explaining this moment and that moment, and suddenly it's gone and how will people get it." But you realize you're so attached and maybe other people aren't feeling the loss [laughs] like you are. But yeah, so if it comes back up in a DVD later on, that can be kind of cool.
EI: Do you respond to big movies like this when you're watching them, like King Kong, independent films...is there a different feel in your mind when you're watching those films?Are your characters are more important than the stories?
NW: Yeah, it's always a different experience -- every film -- and certainly making an independent film versus a studio film -- the intimacy of an independent film is much easier and you're usually shooting at such a rapid state and pace, and that way you're very connected and very fresh, and everything is so fragmented when it's a big movie. But yeah, this is a huge plot that's in this film, and so although the characters are real and felt dynamic enough for me, there's not as much time to develop them because of the plot as there is with, say, an independent film.
EI: Are you excited to work with Annette?
NW: Yes, very. She's a fantastic actress, I'm just excited to meet her and, unfortunately, I don't have any scenes with her.
EI: What's the movie about?
NW: It's about three women, and she plays my mother, and she adopted me when she was 14 years old, and so she's trying to find me. And then there's another woman, played by Kerry Washington, and she wants to be a mom and is having difficulty and wants to adopt.
EI: She adopts you at age 14?
NW: [Laughs] Oh, she doesn't adopt me. These are three separate stories and they sort of intertwine.