Neighbor: Naomi Watts, Actress

She is beautiful in a natural, unassuming way. She is a family woman, playing with her boys, Alexander Pete, 4, called “Sasha,” and Samuel Kai, 3, called “Sammy,” in East Hampton at the beach, and swimming with her sexy husband, the actor Liev Schreiber. She is an award-winning actress with darn good acting chops. She is goodwill ambassador to UNAIDS., raising awareness worldwide about AIDS issues. She addressed a gathering of leaders and stars in 2009 at the Washington Square Memorial, commemorating World AIDS Day, and spoke about the “stigma of AIDS,” according to www.UNAIDS.org, and how people should “not be blamed for their illness.” [expand]

She traveled to Zambia “to draw attention to the socio-economic impact of H.I.V. on women and girls.” She is lending her hands to another cause for the March of Dimes for healthy pregnancies and babies. The March of Dimes has teamed up with Destination Maternity—celeb moms will embellish a pair of maternity jeans to be auctioned off at www.biddingforgood.com/celebs4maternitydenim. Bidding ends September 22.

Naomi Ellen Watts was born on September 28, 1968, in Shoreham, Kent, England to Myfanwy Edwards and Peter Watts. Watts’ mother is Welsh, a former antiques dealer, now a costume designer and stylist for television commercials. Her father, who died in 1976 when Naomi was 8, was the English road manager and sound engineer for Pink Floyd. It is Pete Watts’ maniacal laugh you hear on the Dark Side of the Moon album tracks “Brain Damage” and “Speak To Me.” Naomi moved with her mom from South Wales to Australia. Her brother is photographer Ben Watts. The 1980 film, Fame, was the catalyst for Watts’ acting bug. Her mother enrolled her in acting lessons and she was in good company with fellow North Sydney Girls High classmate Nicole Kidman. A little modeling, a job as Assistant Fashion Editor at Follow Me Magazine in Sydney and a drama workshop— the rest is history.

Watts’ star is blazing at fever pitch right now. She has four movies coming out in the next year. Watts has stellar co-stars and her leading men are equally hot. Coming out September 30, she stars in Dream House, a thriller with Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz where Watts plays a neighbor to the “dream house,” which becomes more of a nightmare. Next is J. Edgar, with Leonardo DiCaprio, with Watts in the role of Helen Gandy, secretary to F.B.I. director, J. Edgar Hoover. The American Film Institute premiere of J. Edgar is on November 3. Still in production is Impossible with Watts and Ewan McGregor (hello!), a film about the 2004 Christmas Tsunami in Thailand. Next April, get ready for Watts onscreen again in Movie 43, previously titled Untitled Comedy, a series of short comedy segments with a star cast.

Her breakout role was in the 1986 drama For Love Alone, based on the best-selling novel by the same name by Christina Stead. This led to John Duigan’s indie film, Flirting, in 1991, after director Duigan spotted her at Nicole Kidman’s Dead Calm premiere. Watts starred in Australian mini-series “Brides of Christ” about “a girl who struggles to find friends behind the walls of a Sydney Catholic School,” according to Australian Television Archive. Four episodes of a popular Aussie soap, called “Home and Away” followed. Duigan again cast Watts, this time in Wide Sargasso Sea, a prequel to the book and movie, Jane Eyre. And then a lull for Watts. Until Matinee, Tank Girl and finally Mulholland Drive, the David Lynch film in which Watts was nominated for Best Actress from the AFI, among others. And don’t forget King Kong. My personal favorite is The Painted Veil, starring Watts and Edward Norton, along with her hubby, Liev Schreiber, in a dramatic story of an ill-suited marriage and infidelity, based on the 1925 W. Somerset Maugham novel. Maybe you loved 21 Grams, or Eastern Promises with Viggo Mortensen (does she have the best co-stars or what?), Mother and Child with Annette Benning, The International with Clive Owen, Fair Game with Watts as C.I.A. agent Valerie Plame and her husband played by Sean Penn, or the philosophical comedy I Heart Huckabees with Dustin Hoffman and Jude Law. Maybe all of them, and why not, she is a pleasure to watch onscreen. Talent, beauty, generous spirit, grace; a rare combination in Hollywood.

Watts has not stopped once she found her stride and aren’t we glad for it? Watts is a star that is burning ever so brightly. Shine on—you have our attention.

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