Naomi Watts Talks Mulholland Drive-Era Career Ageist Warning She Got That 'Didn't Make Any Sense' To Her

Naomi Watts as Nora Brannock in The Watcher
(Image credit: Netflix)

Naomi Watts’ career started in her early thirties in the United States. She’s still got a thriving career in her fifties with her return to horror after 20 years as part of the cast of Netflix’s The Watcher and an American remake of the Austrian psychological horror film Goodnight Mommy. During the time Watts made her film debut in 2001's Mulholland Drive, she received an ageist warning that “didn’t make any sense” to her.

With Hollywood having shallow perceptions about beauty and aging, aspiring actresses may believe that they need to start young in order to have a lasting acting career. Naomi Watts told InStyle about the ageist remark she received when first starting out in Hollywood, saying:

My career didn’t really start until my early 30s; that was when Mulholland Drive came out. At that time, I was also being told that your career would be over around your 40s. That didn’t make any sense to me. Someone said to me, ‘Well it's when you become unfuckable.’ I was so put off and struck by that statement. I guessed that meant when you can no longer produce children, but so then what? Oh, I get it, the older women play the villain or the mad, crazy lady."

That ageist remark that Watts received couldn’t have been further from the truth. So many women over 50 in Hollywood continue to rule the screen. You can see in these delightful pictures of Meryl Streep that she gets more beautiful with age and has over 60 film roles in her career. Being in her late 50s didn’t prevent Jamie Lee Curtis from returning to her Halloween franchise four years ago for three more films. Halle Berry continues to show off her 56-year-old self whether she’s wearing a plunging jumpsuit or decides to bare all. These are just some of the examples that point out that your appearance and your acting career don’t always fade by the time you reach 50. 

Hollywood tends to provide a double standard where men are not threatened with aging like women. The Ring actress continued explaining to the magazine her frustration with that way of thinking.

We as society look at men as they age and think they get more attractive. They get wiser, more powerful, and more desirable, and no man is talking to another man really about how they wish they could look better. They may talk about their aches and pains, but there’s no real pressure. It just feels like an unfair playing field, and I wish the conversation wasn’t there at all.

Women face the threat of thinking about plastic surgery in order to prolongate their careers. Ironically, the English actress’s new role in Goodnight Mommy is about an aging actress who gets plastic surgery with her face all bandaged up for most of the movie. As for if she would ever consider plastic surgery for herself, Watts has told the publication that she's open to it eventually and doesn’t believe women should be shamed for making that choice. After all, you must live with your body and be comfortable with it. The 56-year-old actress continues to inspire women over 50 with Stripes, her new beauty brand meant to tackle the stigma of menopause.

Naomi Watts has got true beauty inside and out that I’m confident will continue to follow her. You can see her comeback into the horror genre on The Watcher with a Netflix subscription and the remake of Goodnight Mommy with an Amazon Prime subscription.

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.