Quick Talk With Naomi Watts

2 minute read

The Australian actor is having a megawatt summer starring as two suburban moms: a therapist who secretly befriends people in her patients’ lives in the Netflix thriller Gypsy (June 30) and one who owes some bad men money in Twin Peaks.

Why do you think your character in Gypsy makes contact with people in her patients’ lives?

It’s not ill-intentioned. She’s exploring her identity. Everything about her life on paper looks great. But she has a wilder side she shut the door on long ago. We all fantasize about escaping to another life.

Do you dream of living another life?

I grew up uncomfortable in my own skin, probably because we moved around so much. I was always trying to reshape my identity to fit in. I think in your 40s those questions come up again: “Who am I? Who should I be?”

What do you think of the portrayal of female desire in the show?

Just because we’re 40 doesn’t mean we stop having fantasies. There’s not enough of that onscreen. Sam Taylor-Johnson [who directed Fifty Shades of Grey] has a really erotic and provocative visual sensibility, and she brought that to the direction of Gypsy.

Your character’s daughter Dolly has a fluid gender identity. What can we learn from her story?

Dolly is accepting of herself. She likes to play with boys and dress like a boy, and we don’t yet know how she identifies. It’s more about the labels society puts on her.

What’s director David Lynch like on the set of Twin Peaks?

He’s in it with you. Once he was on his megaphone calling out in the midst of a scene, “Go get ’em, Naomi! Twist their balls off!” But when you ask questions, he doesn’t give you answers. He wants to maintain the mystery even for us. I love it. Everything he does is weird and esoteric, but it’s rooted in truth.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com