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Naomi Watts - Biography

The British-born, Australia-raised actress wasn't just your average overnight success.

naomi watts
Faye James
Senior Editor
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Naomi Ellen Watts, better known as Naomi Watts, was born on September 28, 1968, in Shoreham, Kent, England. As the daughter of an actress and a road manager for the iconic British rock band Pink Floyd, she was exposed to the world of art and performance at a young age. 

The divorce of her parents at the age of four and her father's death three years later marked a tumultuous start to her life. After several years of moving around England, her family relocated to Australia when she was 14, marking a significant shift in her journey.

Watts began taking acting classes and started attending auditions, a move that would soon shape her career. She briefly worked as a model in Japan, followed by a stint as a fashion editor. However, her passion for acting was reignited at a drama workshop, which led to her film debut in the Australian romance, For Love Alone (1986).


Her breakthrough arrived in 1991 with the boarding-school romance, Flirting, co-starring Nicole Kidman and Thandie Newton. After moving to Los Angeles, she landed her first American movie role in Tank Girl (1995). Despite steady work in both film and TV, it wasn't until her starring double role in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive (2001) that she achieved significant success and critical notice.

Watts' unique versatility allowed her to shine in a diverse array of roles and genres. She made her mark in surrealist thrillers like Mulholland Drive, crime dramas like 21 Grams (2003), and quirky comedies like I Heart Huckabees (2004). Her role in the big-budget adventure King Kong (2005) further established her as a versatile actress.

Acclaimed Performances and Nominations

Her exceptional performance as a recovering drug addict in 21 Grams led to her first Academy Award nomination. Other notable roles include The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004), Eastern Promises (2007), and the biopic J. Edgar (2011). She earned her second Academy Award nomination for best actress for her remarkable performance in The Impossible (2012). She later undertook the challenging role of Princess Diana in the biographical film Diana (2013).

Recent Work and Future Projects

In recent years, Watts has delivered memorable performances in films such as the dystopian fantasy The Divergent Series: Allegiant (2016), the supernatural thriller Shut In (2016), and the Shakespearean adaptation Ophelia (2018). She followed this up with roles in Penguin Bloom (2020) and the sci-fi thriller Boss Level (2021).

Apart from her illustrious film career, Watts has also appeared in several television projects, including a recurring role in the 2017 revival of the cult TV series Twin Peaks. In 2019, she portrayed former Fox News Channel personality Gretchen Carlson in The Loudest Voice.

Personal Life and Philanthropy

Outside of her career, Watts leads a fascinating personal life. Following an interest sparked during the shooting of The Painted Veil (2006), she converted to Buddhism and became an ardent proponent of Transcendental Meditation. Watts has had relationships with several notable figures, including Australian actor Heath Ledger and American actor Liev Schreiber, with whom she shares two children. She married actor Billy Crudup in a private ceremony in 2023.

In 2016, Watts became the honorary president of Glantraeth F.C., a small football club in Malltraeth, Anglesey, Wales, near her grandparents' farm where she spent much of her childhood. This shows her dedication to giving back to the community, demonstrating her diverse interests beyond the big screen.

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