Thanks to Fay Wray, who played Ann Darrow in 1933's "King Kong," the character has forever been associated with a dramatic scream. Prepare for that to change.
"They've given me a lot to do," said Naomi Watts, who will star as Darrow in Peter Jackson's upcoming remake. "It isn't just running and screaming."
Watts isn't talking much about the movie ("Because I want to protect it," she said), but she did compare it with the 1976 remake, which starred a young Jessica Lange.
"Even though it's set in the period of the '30s, it's still very modernized," she said. "[Jackson] is using everything that's happened in society and the world and somehow letting it evolve. It's funny, when I look back at the two versions of 'King Kong,' I find the '30s one less dated."
Watts, who was the first star attached to the movie ("Peter Jackson — do you say no to him?"), also noted her excitement at the casting of Andy Serkis, who will do the motions for Kong before the monster is created digitally in post-production.
"I don't quite know what they're going to do, but I know it's a pair of eyes for me to look at and that's the vital key," she said. "It would be horrible to think that I was looking at an 'X' or a tennis ball on a stick, because there's a lot of emoting to do. It's a beautiful, simple love story, and even though it's high-concept and it's going to be a spectacular film, there are some real basic elements here, which are love and the unrequited side of that. So I think being able to look in someone's eyes is so important."
Watts, along with Jack Black, Adrien Brody and Colin Hanks, will shoot "King Kong" in September (see "Jack Black Warns That Peter Jackson's King Kong Is A Scary Flesh-Eater"), after she finishes "The Ring 2."
Hideo Nakata, who directed the original Japanese versions of "The Ring" and "The Ring 2" ("Ringu" and "Ringu 2"), is helming the American sequel to the 2002 hit.
"The sequel is always the hardest thing in the world to do," Watts admitted. "After you've found your audience, you want to deliver again, but you don't want to be repetitive. But you want to give them just enough, 'cause you know what they're looking for, and you want to be introducing new ideas as well."
Her character's dilemmas in "The Ring 2" are heightened, Watts said, as is the character development. "[Nakata] is careful not to just indulge the audience in shock value. It's about creating the creepiness of if all and the psychological aspect."
Along with "The Ring 2" and "King Kong," Watts has lead roles in "The Assassination of Richard Nixon" with Sean Penn and "I Heart Huckabee's" with Jude Law, Mark Wahlberg, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Schwartzman, both due later this year.
First, however, the "21 Grams" star will appear in the indie drama "We Don't Live Here Anymore," for which she was also a producer.
In the film, which opens August 13, Watts' character has an affair with a close friend (Mark Ruffalo) of her husband (Peter Krause). Watts said she drew from her personal experience as a victim of infidelity for the role.
"It's horrible — I've had that happen to me before — but it's very human," she said. "What this film will hopefully do is teach us [that] this is what we must not do. Obviously, the vital element that is missing in all of their lives is the communication ... particularly for [my character] Edith, who is so dead inside and so afraid to voice her needs. And she's worked out a way to survive and hold on to the life that she has. She does not want to destroy or lose her marriage, but in the end, I think by instigating this affair, it's in the hope that she will save it. I mean, it backfires horribly, but she saves herself. And I think that's what needed to be done."
Watts said she approached the movie the same way as a big-budget feature like "The Ring."
"The focus is always the same, which is your commitment to your character in the story," she said. "No matter whether there are 200 trucks outside or [just] a crate to sit on, it's about what you believe, and that's why you're there.
"Even though 'King Kong' is such a big-scale movie," she continued, "the storyline is really pure and human. I've already seen some things and ideas that Peter's planning to do, and I've wept."
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