Watch: Oscar-nominee Naomi Watts on pressure of playing real-life survivor in 'The Impossible'
Naomi Watts admits she watched the Oscar nominations announcement live to find out she was nominated for Best Actress for her role in "The Impossible." "I planned on not watching it," she explains, "and in fact, I really was quite sure that it wasn't going to happen … but I ended up having a really sleepless night anyway … I was completely shocked, and extra shocked because my name was read first."
Last year, to increase suspense, Oscar presenters began to announce nominees in random order instead of alphabetically, which meant that Watts got to hear the good news first this time around. "It's a nice break for those whose names begin with a W," she says. Considering those actors who come earlier in the alphabet but had to wait to hear their names called, she adds, "That's how the W's have lived their whole lives!"
In the film, Watts plays Maria, who vacations with her family in Thailand when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami ravaged Southeast Asia. The film is based on the true experiences of María Belón, who now advocates for the victims of the disaster and worked closely with Watts to develop her character: "By reading the script and then getting close to Maria … I really came to understand [the event], and hopefully the movie helps people understand it better because it was the greatest natural disaster of our lifetime."
Watts was "quite nervous" when she first met Belón: "I've never met a survivor before that's gone through something this big. How do you talk to them? … I remember we had this meeting and I thought, 'Oh gosh, I hope she speaks first,' because I want to get a vibe from her … and she just sat in front of me and looked at me very deeply, and then her eyes started to tear up, and then mine did too."
Watts also discusses her upcoming role as Princess Diana in "Diana," another high-pressure biographical role: "I wanted to get certain things right, and that meant the walk and talk, and the look … everybody's going to be quick to say, 'Oh, she's not tall enough' or 'She doesn't have the right nose' … I wanted to make sure I could get those things as close to her as possible."