Naomi Watts says her top priority when filming Goodnight Mommy was protecting her young co-stars by interacting carefully with them on set.
Watts, who stars as the unsettling, bandage-wrapped mother in the film inspired by the 2014 Austrian feature of the same name, told The Hollywood Reporter that she worried about the wellbeing of twin actors Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti just as if they were her own children.
“There was a lot of talking,” the actress said ahead of the film’s New York premiere, emphasizing the importance of communication with both the child actors and their parent.
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“As a parent now, I always worry about my children getting cut or living with dark thoughts and so it’s always important to talk as much as one can with them. I was just as worried about these kids because I don’t know them and I’m doing strange things and sometimes yelling and sometimes getting physical. So I just had to keep checking in, not just with them, but their mother.”
The 14-year-olds play Watts’ twin sons, Elias (Cameron) and Lukas (Nicholas) who come to stay with their mother on her remote, rural property. When they arrive, they find their mother to be far different than they remember: her face is now covered in bandages from a vague cosmetic procedure, and her demeanor is erratic and unsettling—leading the boys to believe that she is not actually their mother.
Watts Shares Strategies to Keep Set Lighthearted Behind the Scenes
Although Watts said she felt “a bit more comfortable” that the twins, who previously starred alongside Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies arrived on set “seasoned professionals,” it was still nerve-wracking to film the more intense scenes.
“It’s still scary,” she said. “Each take is a different take and even as planned as you make it, something can happen. Some scenes were a lot more difficult than others because of that.”
“I just wanted to make sure they were always OK,” she added, sharing some of the strategies she employed to keep things lighthearted behind the scenes. “Sometimes we would break the tension by making sure that we’re telling jokes or we’re playing a game, so they don’t almost sort of short circuit with the possibility of dark thoughts taking hold.”
Directed by Matt Sobel, Goodnight Mommy is now available to stream on Prime Video.