Sometimes, the most tragic circumstances have the biggest impact on a person’s success. That can certainly be said for Naomi Watts, who recently opened up in an interview with The Guardian about her childhood and how her father’s death affected the rest of her life.
In 1976, the actress’s father, Peter Watts, a sound engineer for Pink Floyd, was found dead from a heroin overdose in London when he was 31 and Naomi was 7. The rest of the family was forced to bounce from home to home so that Naomi’s single mother could find a career for herself. They finally settled in Australia when Naomi was 14 years old.
So, how did this tragedy affect an Oscar-nominated actor’s career path so early on? According to Watts, as a 14-year-old whose life was clearly settled in England, the idea of moving halfway across the world to Australia was difficult to comprehend. In order to ease her into the idea, her mother offered to pay for acting lessons when they got there.
Before all the moving and hard work from Naomi’s mother, Pink Floyd tried to help the Watts’ start over in the wake of the loss of Peter. “My dad hadn’t saved any money,” Watts told The Guardian, “and I guess my mum didn’t have any. So they — the band — very kindly… ‘Trust fund’ doesn’t sound right at all. I think they gave my mum a few thousand dollars to help get things under way. It was kind that they did that.”
In Australia, the young aspiring actress made a friend who really made a difference, socially and professionally: Nicole Kidman. The two were acting partners and drinking buddies in Sydney and were cast in their first project together in 1991, a comedy called Flirting. Since then, the two have kept in touch but have (obviously) molded their own careers separate from one another.
Through that successful Hollywood career, Watts still uncovers new surprises about her father. Because she and her father were so young when he died, she understands him on a more photographic level than one based on memory. “You’ve got to understand, I’ve got maybe three photos of my dad, and all of the photos of him are either out of focus or he’s a tiny speck in the background,” Naomi said. When a Pink Floyd fan recently gave her a picture of her father that she had never seen before, she got more emotional than she had in years.
Watts’ own honest about this time in her life is interesting, to say the least, and it certainly sheds a new light on who she is as a person and as an actor.