Mega Watts

She seduced King Kong onscreen and Liev Schreiber in real life, but winning over Hollywood was harder. Now Naomi Watts, star of 'Dream House' and 'J. Edgar,' is focusing on her two young sons—and making “movies that I’d WANT to see”

by Leah Rozen
naomi watts image
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Photograph: Peggy Sirota

By “we,” Watts means actor Liev Schreiber, her romantic partner since 2005, and their two sons, Alexander Peter (known as Sasha), four, and Samuel Kai, two. “Have you seen her children? They’re so blonde, so beautiful,” Kidman says. “I keep saying to them, ‘Make more.’ ” (She adds, only half-jokingly, that she looks forward to the day when she and Watts are grandmothers.)

Friends had long viewed Watts and Schreiber as a good match and tried to set them up, but both had been seeing other people. Watts’s beaus included decade-younger Heath Ledger, her costar in 2003’s Ned Kelly. When asked what comes to mind when she remembers Ledger, who died of a prescription-drug overdose in 2008, she responds frankly and fondly: “Good times. We had a beautiful relationship, only a couple of years, but he was a man who was completely full of joy, and there was a lot of laughing and affection. He was really a very special soul and made a great impact on my life. And a great actor, but I know there was so much more to come. And it’s such a tragedy for his little daughter.”

The right time and the right place for the actress and Schreiber came in New York in 2005, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual costume ball. “I was wearing Calvin Klein, a very flirty, feminine dress,” she says. Sparks flew and, free from earlier entanglements, the two exchanged numbers before she went back to Los Angeles. “We spoke on the phone for several weeks and e-mailed,” says Watts, “and then I made up some excuse to come to New York, and the rest is history.”

Her friends were thrilled at the pairing. “He is also driven in his work and a genuine student of life. I just wish he wasn’t so attached to New York City,” says Rigg, who is married to The Mentalist’s Simon Baker and lives in L.A. Kidman, who was in New York at the time of the courtship, says with a knowing laugh, “I totally remember. It was incredibly passionate.”

Once the couple set up housekeeping—they’ve never wed, and she says a ring worn on her left hand is “just a ring”—offspring soon followed. “I always wanted children,” she says. “I thought that I would have them young, like my mother. I never thought I would have them as late as I did.” Watts’s first son was born in 2007, when she was 38, and her second just 17 months later. She breast-fed both boys and joked to David Letterman that she was suffering from a “lactose lobotomy.”

In hindsight, Watts is glad she waited on motherhood. “You grow up and hopefully become more self-aware,” she says. “I think I’m a better parent. I had a lot I wanted to do when I was younger, and perhaps I wouldn’t have been as focused; I got a lot out of the way in terms of my own dreams.”

In the Watts-Schreiber household, Mummy (the Anglo-Aussie maternal appellation favored by her children) and Dad are both hands-on parents, something her own father never had a chance to be. Schreiber often can be spotted tooling around downtown New York on his bicycle with a son in tow. “I’ve always said that men are great in the moment but not good in the planning, like is there milk in the fridge, and do we have diapers?” says Watts. “Liev’s ‘moments’ with the children are amazing. The games just go on and on.”

She, too, makes sure she has her moments with her boys; Watts postpones until the next morning a scheduled 9 PM phone call, explaining that after being at an all-day photo shoot, “I just got home and am lying down with my son as he falls off to sleep.” Rigg, having watched Watts roll on the floor with her kids climbing over her, says, “She’s so in love with those boys, I think it breaks her heart when she’s traveling and has to be away from them.”

First published in the October 2011 issue

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