A peek into Naomi Watts’ picturesque Long Island home
Article taken from Harper’s Bazaar.
With water views and modern furnishings, Naomi Watts’ home on the tip of New York’s Long Island is refreshingly coastal and cosy.
NAOMI WATTS welcomes us barefoot and makeup-free in light blue leggings and a matching tank top, wrapped in a blue chunky knit cardigan. The 53-year-old actor, who has proven to be a chameleon throughout her career, with a penchant for intense and enigmatic characters, reveals an instantaneous casualness that immediately draws you into an unexpected world of normalcy.
Her house exudes the same warmth. Throughout, raw oak wood floors offset white walls while giving the space a natural, rustic feel. A renovated kitchen opens onto a window-walled living room, boasting a sprawling two-storey beach-stone fireplace. The graceful five-bedroom house is enriched with natural-fibre rugs and patinated wood and rattan furniture collected over time from antique shops, thrift stores and her travels. Splashes of colour subtly interrupt the overall neutral tones: linen cushions and throws from Turkey and Morocco, wall art featuring assorted paintings and prints, as well as a selection of family photos — an altogether carefully curated mix that unveils the more intimate side of Watts.
“Home is such a big part of your identity and self-expression,” she says. “I find myself investing in my home the way I used to in clothes. I would never have dreamt of spending money on a garden in my thirties. My mum always used to say that after a certain age, you go to the garden. After your reproductive years are over, you take pride in planting trees and flowers. And she’s not wrong. You want to watch something else grow.”
HOME is such a BIG PART of your IDENTITY and SELF-EXPRESSION… I find myself INVESTING in my HOME the way I USED TO in CLOTHES
Watts’ mother, Myfanwy Edwards, who began her career as an actor, inspired Watts from a young age to pursue an acting career. Edwards then became an antiques dealer and costume and set designer, always maintaining a close relationship with her daughter and leaving her mark in the new house’s design.
“My mother is such a creative force,” Watts says. “She’s an interior designer. This is where this all came from. Even though we had no money, [our home] was set-decorated to a tee. She used to buy and sell antiques, and we were dragged along to the flea markets with her. She was an adventurer and very much into boho chic, eclectic. Everything was busy and interesting, so I go for cleaner things, but I always have my mother’s voice in my head not to be too sterile. She has a saying, ‘No colour, no soul,’ so the flowers, the pillows, and textures are a way for me to pull that in.
I go for CLEANER THINGS, but I ALWAYS have my MOTHERS VOICE in my HEAD not to be too STERILE
Watts’ upbringing had its share of insecurity and turmoil. Born in Kent, England, her parents divorced when she was four years old. Three years later, her father, Peter Watts, a sound engineer and road manager for Pink Floyd, died of an apparent drug overdose. Watts moved multiple times within England before relocating to Australia at the age of 14. “I take home where I go,” she says. “I moved around a lot, went to several different schools. I’m on the road always, and that’s how I was raised, which has its advantages and disadvantages. It makes me adaptable, but I always feel slightly like an outsider.”
I take HOME where I GO
Perhaps this explains why Watts chose to put down roots in Montauk on the tip of New York’s Long Island — close to her brother, photographer Ben Watts, and her former partner Liev Schreiber, with whom she shares two children, Sasha, 14, and Kai, 13 — keeping her family united.Proximity to the water is comforting for Watts, who grew attached to Australia in her youth. Set atop one of Montauk’s highest points, the property captures surrounding views of Lake Montauk, Fort Pond Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
“What I fell in love with about this house was the water view. That’s just so calming. … And the light. I love that airy and bright feeling. One of my favourite moments is being in the bath at sunset. You’ve got this nice little window that captures the sun as it goes down … I am also very attached to the beach,” she says. “I like knowing the ocean is there, smelling it and swimming in it off-hours, early morning or in the evening.”
What I fell in LOVE with about this HOUSE was the WATER VIEW… and the LIGHT. I LOVE that AIRY and BRIGHT feeling
Watts, who describes herself as a homebody, typically spends her weekends with family and friends, cooking, playing cards and games and drinking wine by the fireplace — an appreciation for the simple things intensely reinforced by the pandemic and its lockdowns. “We all shared that, didn’t we? Just wanting to hunker down and make your home your safest space, your safest feeling,” she says. “As much as it was riddled with anxiety and fear of When is this going to end?, and the loneliness that comes with having to be separated from your loved ones, the simpler things become even more important.
There’s nothing clearer than that moment when the distractions go away. And having that moment to pause for a family is quite important and a good reminder that that’s what we all need and live for most of all.
”While social feeds at the time were abounding with posts on home improvements, kitchen triumphs and unveilings of new creative pastimes, Watts engaged as well. “I didn’t want to be one of those people who only watches everyone else create hobbies during this time — I didn’t make my own clothes; I didn’t bake bread. I did rescue a dog.” She also tried her hand at ceramics, posting a video on Instagram to the song “Unchained Melody”, reminiscent of the movie Ghost, and tagging Demi Moore to ask her for tips. “I was pretty crap at it,” Watts immediately confesses.
Ceramics and other hobbies aside, Watts kept busy throughout the pandemic by keeping her clean and sustainable beauty business, Onda Beauty, afloat. With multiple stores in New York and one in Sydney, Watts and her co-founders had to make a significant shift from physical retail spaces to become a predominantly online business.
Watts, who introduced the brand’s co-founders, Larissa Thomson and Sarah Bryden-Brown, was originally tasked with testing products before taking on a more involved role. “Here I am, at a point in my life when hormonal changes are taking place, and my skin is extremely sensitive and can’t handle certain things,” Watts recalls. “Once Larissa gave me these products to try, and I could see there was an immediate change, I had to switch. Then it became clear that I could be a valuable piece of the business that would help drive it. And we’re still going, despite the hard hits we, like many other small and large businesses, took during the pandemic.”
It BECAME CLEAR that I could be a VALUABLE PIECE of the BUSINESS that would HELP DRIVE IT
With similar resilience, Watts has navigated a trying acting career, which she thought of giving up many times. “I think it was my determination that saved me,” she says. “I don’t like to fail. I’m okay with small failures, and they’re your lessons, and I tell my kids all the time that failing is fine. But underneath all that, I had some sense of belief that this was my calling.”
After a decade of failed auditions, Watts had her big break when she was cast for David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. “Indebted to the grave,” is how she describes her gratitude towards Lynch. “I feel so lucky that all things aligned at the moment I met David Lynch. I really had a long slog under the radar and pretty much resigned myself to thinking, you know, At best, I’m going to get a job or two a year and be like an actor for hire.”
Following the success of Mulholland Drive, Watts was sought out by some of Hollywood’s most prominent directors, landing leading roles in Gore Verbinski’s The Ring, Peter Jackson’s King Kong and David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises. She also earned two Oscar nominations for best actress: in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams and J.A. Bayona’s The Impossible.
Often pivoting toward emotionally charged roles, Watts divulges a certain vulnerability — a conscious effort she has made to allow herself to grow through cathartic experiences. “I tend to gravitate toward grief and identity. Those are two big things I’ve grappled with,” she says. “Identity, being that I had to move around a lot,always trying to find my way and how to fit in … and grief … I lost my father when I was very young.”
I tend to GRAVITATE toward GRIEF and IDENTITY.. THOSE ARE the two big THINGS I’VE GRAPPLED WITH
With three upcoming movie releases, Goodnight Mommy, The Desperate Hour and Infinite Storm, on the way, as well as the Netflix series The Watcher, produced by Ryan Murphy, in the making, Watts is fully committed. “I’ll never give up acting,” she says. “I just enjoy it. It’s my way to express myself. I love the dynamics that accrue on a film set and you share with the cast. It’s a very creative process and very much emulates a family. I love that experience for that reason.
There’s always a little degree of dysfunction at some point, but you find a way to figure it out and produce something together. Something special that means something to other people. That’s a very liberating experience.” As the day sets and the fireplace is lit, Watts seems ready to recharge at home, peacefully aware that there is much more to come.