Vital lives: A movie, marriage and baby.. mega watts; ACTRESS NAOMI WATTS IS STARRING IN A HIT NEW MOVIE, FOUND LOVE AND IS EXPECTING HER FIRST CHILD. BUT, AS SHE ADMITS, SHE'S ALSO HAD HER FAIR SHARE OF HEARTBREAK.
STILL famous for starring opposite the tallest, darkest, hairiest leading man in Hollywood, Naomi Watts is now set to appear in one of literature's great love stories.
Yet not long ago, the movie star was convinced her own romances would never have a happy, final chapter.
The 38-year-old had just split up with handsome Aussie hunk Heath Ledger. Almost immediately, her ex moved on to a new life and new heights of stardom with Brokeback Mountain, not to mention new happiness with co-star Michelle Williams, who became pregnant with their first child during filming.
Meanwhile, Naomi was starting to wonder if she could ever achieve her dream of a settled family life and stable career.
But now she's the star of two love stories. One is a lush, romantic movie 10 years in the making, called The Painted Veil, the other is her own, rather more whirlwind, affair with American actor Liev Schreiber.
In just 12 short months, their affair has blossomed and the King Kong star is now planning a wedding and looking forward to the birth of their child.
Naomi and Liev began dating last spring, more than a year after she split from her previous boyfriend, Heath.
At the time, Naomi had been hurt by the intense interest in that relationship, especially over the cradle-snatching remarks made about the 11-year age gap between her and her 27-year-old boyfriend.
"I think deep down we both knew that there wasn't a forever plan," she admitted, as she looked back at their relationship.
"It was sad saying goodbye to someone that you care for but we always knew that it was in sight, so it was the inevitable that happened."
Now, she's happy to say they are still friends and Heath has introduced her to his fiancee, Michelle Williams, who gave birth to the couple's daughter last October.
At 38, Liev is the same age as Naomi and has similar interests in fine art and highbrow literature. She shyly admits that even before they met, she had a crush on the strapping, sophisticated Omen star.
"He's just a solid guy," she said. "And he's complex, which I love.
"He has a brilliant mind, which I am totally in awe of. And he's incredibly funny. You just have to laugh. For some people, that's not such an important thing but I need that. We understand each other very well and we're at very similar places in our lives."
Naomi has always been open about her longing for kids, especially after pal Nicole Kidman adopted two children with her then-husband Tom Cruise, and other friends were also raising families.
"I always thought I'd be a young mum," admitted Naomi.
Despite her leading role in the remake of King Kong and her scream queen stints in horror hits The Ring and The Ring Two - and even her Oscar nomination for 2003's 21 Grams - Naomi often manages to keep a low profile.
And that's the way she likes it.
Her method seems a simple one - wherever possible, make sure you are in the company of an even bigger star.
King Kong was one that no-one could overlook but Naomi also does Pilates classes alongside Madonna and, of course, her best friend of 15 years is Nicole Kidman.
However, when she became pregnant, she surprised everyone, including herself, by announcing the news in the most public way.
She appeared on the red carpet for this year's Oscars with her boyfriend by her side, proudly showing her new bump, telling Liev: "It's a very auspicious thing that our embryo is going to the Oscars".
NAOMI admits that she did agonise over the decision to make her condition public at first.
"I wanted to keep it private because there is just so much to worry about," she said. "I had morning sickness for four weeks at the start and I feel crammed but, otherwise, I'm at the glowing stage."
Names are already being discussed but the dad-to-be has told her he's ruled out calling their baby Liev (which rhymes with Kiev).
"It's a terrible name. It's probably the most mispronounced name in all of show business," said Liev.
"It's bad enough I have gone through that for 15 years. There won't be any Liev juniors. It's not like George, you can call five kids George. You can't really call anyone Liev, you shouldn't call one child that."
Now looking forward to a full and happy life, Naomi admits there have been times when she'd given up on love.
"I don't think I've been in a relationship where I've truly given myself, my whole heart ever before," she said.
Naomi hasn't had a lot of screen romances either. King Kong obviously doesn't count.
And while the oddball Mulholland Drive in 2001 made her an Oscar-nominated star and The Ring a year later made her bankable, one was a cult piece of weirdness and the other a horror film. So not a lot of snogging there.
So she has had years to think about her first big, romantic movie.
Her leading man, Edward Norton, had been pushing to get The Painted Veil made for years, with the script written more than a decade ago.
Like the screen lovers they played, Watts and Norton had obstacles to overcome - such as pairing up their busy working schedules, as well as the added problems of making a movie in remote parts of China.
"We ended up in places that were so remote, that not only would you never go there but no one you know would ever go there," Naomi recalled.
"We were shooting in this one little town in an area where things hadn't changed for hundreds of years. You'd find them doing things the same way that things had been done for centuries."
But there were some bonuses. Naomi and Liev met just before he also signed up to appear in The Painted Veil, with Naomi playing Edward Norton's unfaithful wife, Liev her married lover.
"We were together for a few months before filming started but we'd first met a long time ago," she explained.
"Unfortunately, his part probably only took seven days but when you're in a place so far away, it's nice to be around people you know and care about."
Oddly, however, doing love scenes with her boyfriend was, she said, quite difficult.
"It's an extra challenge to work with someone that you know. I've never really done that before," said Naomi.
Born in England, Naomi's parents split up when she was four and her father died when she was seven. At 14, she emigrated to Australia with her mother and older brother, Ben.
She met Nicole Kidman on the set of a bikini ad and they later became best pals after starring together on the teen flick Flirting.
Nicole's career took off in the early nineties, along with a glamorous marriage to Tom Cruise but when Naomi followed her pal to Hollywood, she admits she struggled to capture tinseltown's attention.
She failed to land the lead opposite Ben Stiller in Meet The Parents because the studio felt she wasn't sexy enough.
And there were times when she would take long, miserable drives alone trying to figure out where she was going wrong.
"I had a director fall asleep on me once," she recalled. "I remember reading the scene and, halfway through I looked up, and the guy was nodding off."
But with a baby and wedding imminent and an epic hit movie opening this month, Naomi Watts now has a life worth waking up to.
The Painted Veil is out now.
'A director fell asleep on me once. I was reading the scene and he was nodding off'
'Liev is just a solid guy. And he's complex, which I love. He has a brilliant mind and is incredibly funny'
HIGH POWERED: Naomi Watts in King Kong, above, her actor fiance Liev Schreiber, centre, and with her best friend Nicole Kidman, right; SCARY STUFF: Naomi in The Ring; BRIGHT FUTURE: Naomi Watts has put her years as a struggling actress behind her and has never been happier
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Apr 30, 2007|
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