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Interview: The International's Naomi Watts And Tom Tykwer

Naomi Watts wasn't planning on making The International, or taking any acting roles at all. She had just given birth to her son when she read the script and hear that Tom Tykwer and Clive Owen were making a film together, but when she read it, she was hooked. Now having just given birth to her second child, Watts, Tykwer and Owen are back together again, doing the publicity tour for The International. Below is our interview with Watts and Tykwer, who joined us for the interview along with producer Lloyd Philips. Check back in a little bit for Clive Owen's part of the interview as all.

Tom, what made you want to make this film?

Tom Tykwer: I encountered the script in a very early draft version, actually six years ago. I was intrigued for two reasons. One, there was really intelligent dialogue for a change. So I thought it was quite amazing, how different the style of dialogue was. As we all know, some of these scripts come along where people say sentences which have three words or less. The second thing I really liked was that the villain was a private bank. Thirdly, there was a sequence in the Guggenheim museum that sounded very promising. There were a lot of problems [with the original script]. The script was set in the late 70s-- it was a period picture. The male protagonist was a Holocaust survivor from Belgium, and everything was quite different. So the first thing I said was we need to attack this from several perspectives. The main interesting element about it is of course that we are confronting a system that is the global economy. Today it's much more relevant than it was in the late 70s.

Naomi, you took this role right after having your first child. What was it about this that made you want to jump back into acting?

Naomi Watts: Well, because, first of all, it came to me that Clive Owen was doing a movie with Tom Tykwer, and that made me instantly want to read the script. Then I met with Tom, and the way he talked about the film, his sensibilities cinematically, it sounded very intriguing to me. The subject definitely played a part. And Tom also said, let me go away and work with the schedule and make it doable for you. And he did. They started two months before me, so by the time I got to the set, my son was three months old. I felt ready to go back to work. I couldn't have done a film where I was driving it-- I couldn't have played Clive's part. Some of the films I've done, there are characters who are in a very emotional, turbulent state. And Eleanor Whitman is actually quite together.

Did this alter your vision of how banks operate?

Tykwer: This is a genre film first and foremost. It's not like a political documentary-- it's a piece of fiction. It takes an extreme example of criminal activities. We're really not saying that all private bankers are murderers. Unfortunately when you investigate, it is pretty scary to find out how close you get to the truth. Yes, it was surprising, and no, it was not surprising, because it's what you don't want to be true, but secretly expect.

Watts: People have said the timing is extraordinary, and did you know? Yeah, actually, we created the whole thing as a publicity stunt! No, it is uncanny, the timing. It's extra-thrilling for an audience member, I suppose.

Tykwer: At the same time, it's not a film about the crisis. It's a film that has investigators hunting down criminals, and those criminals represent a system that has been there much longer than any crisis. It's about a system that it starting to be a problem.

Do you have a sense of the movie industry being inflated, especially given how well the industry is doing? Or Naomi, do you think actors are making too much money? Watts: I don't know if they're making too much across the board. I'm doing a movie now where it's the least I've been paid in about 10 years, maybe, and people are willing to go to work now for that, which I think ordinarily wouldn't happen. I can't see the film industry coming to a grinding halt any time soon. I think we may be more open to negotiations and things like that, but I think the art world tends to thrive in times of recession.

How did you decide to cast Clive Owen, and Naomi, can you talk about your chemistry together? Because there's no romance in the film, but there's still a very strong connection.

Watts: We shot nine love scenes. And we just decided to cut them.

Tykwer:: It was just for the pleasure of me. But there will be a huge DVD of deleted scenes. [Laughs] Uh, I think Clive right now is just simply speaking the first and perfect choice for what we would call the thinking man's action hero. I think he's just the movie interesting actor of his generation, combining this physical presence with the idea that there's somebody who's really smart, thinking really, truly smartly through all this. You immediately connect with him. All these films, all these buttons that you push in movies-- Clive and Naomi have never been in a movie together, God, what a match. OK, make them a couple. But it's one of my most loved elements of the film, that it's about adults. At a certain age, you end up not being like in the movies, always the good-looking people meet each other and they immediately fall in love and get married. The reality is, at least my reality, we all know there are some times in our life we meet somebody who is actually interesting and we're attracted to, and it would have been an option in another life. But usually either that person isn't available, or I'm not available, or we're both not available. We've had a life already. That's not even bad. It's more like the melancholy of the choices in life that we take, and we can't live different lives. I love how they play the undertone of that.

Watts: We did shoot one scene that was an almost moment. Even that scene was very, very carefully done. I think he's right-- there are many times in life that you have those almost moments, but it doesn't happen for whatever reason. To put it in the movie would have felt completely inauthentic. That's what I love about Tom's style. He's never giving you exactly what you're waiting for. We did shoot that moment, and it was in a couple of cuts, but I guess it wasn't true. It was just a moment of she leans on his shoulder, and that's it.

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend