Most of you know by now that last weekend I was lucky enough to attend the red carpet world premiere of War Horse, in NYC. The weekend was so much better than just that though. A week ago Monday, I was given the opportunity to sit at a roundtable interview with Emily Watson, the lead actress from War Horse. Emily plays Rose, the mother of Albert, who is the star of the whole movie.
The star-like experience of the whole weekend was just phenomenal and getting to interview Emily was just extraordinary. The only other interview I have had (albeit, it was a phone interview) with a celebrity to date is Dakota Goyo, from Real Steel. This was very different because we got to sit with Emily and see her facial expressions and body language. We also got to take a picture with her.
Something that I think is important to remember about celebrities is that they are people too. Emily seems very much like a mom that you would bump into at the grocery store. She was very down to earth as she sipped on her cup of Starbucks and chatted with us about her life and the making of War Horse. There were so many great questions asked during the interview, but I will just include some of my favorites that I think help tell us all a little more about Emily Watson, and also about War Horse.
Emily was asked what the most memorable part of shooting the film was and I love her response. She talks about Dartmore, England and just how it is the most beautiful part of the country. We learned that Dartmore is in the county of Devon, “which is very fecund and rich and it’s a real, you know, food producing, very traditional, cream and honey and eggs area.” Then in the middle of this county is the moorland called Dartmore. She says “you can stand on it and not be able to see any sign of human habitation whatsoever, where there are these ancient outcrops of rock.” It was special filming in this beautiful place. Emily also finished with, ” But getting a call from Steven Spielberg is not a bad day. It’s not a bad day.”
I love Emily’s appreciation of her surroundings during filming. The fact that she was able to take a breath from acting and look around her and take it all in is refreshing.
Emily was asked what her favorite scene was in the movie, and rather than try to paraphrase her here, I’d like to quote what she said, because it’s lovely and deep.
“I think the no-man’s land sequence. Where, when those young boys are running through the, you know, they go over the top and they’re running through and then there’s the gas and then the horses. All that sequence is so powerful. The film to me then suddenly elevates into something else. It’s like, that war is kind of, people are forgetting about it. And it’s the worst episode in human history in terms of loss of life. I think. I mean, don’t quote me on that, but I mean, it is so horrific and so pointless, that war. And the real film really gets that I think. ”
I really love that Emily said this because War Horse is very powerful in that it teaches in a non gory way just how devastating war, and this war in particular, really is. Once you see the film and understand which scene Emily is talking about, I’d love your feedback.
Emily is very much a mother and very relatable as such. I found that when she talked about her kids or being a mother, she had a special light about her. Someone asked how she juggles being a mother with her film work, and she said it can be very challenging. There was one time when she had to be away from her kids, ages 3 and 6, for 3 weeks and it was a disaster. She always takes this into consideration when accepting any jobs. The Watsons also have a spectacular nanny who will just pack up and go with the family wherever they need to be. Emily also said of those women who have to balance being a mother with a career, to give yourself a break. It’s hard, and when you think other people are making a success of it and it is all smooth, don’t believe it. It’s work.
This brings me to the question that I asked Emily. I asked Emily if having children now has influenced how she accesses emotion as an actress. Her first response was this: “That kind of irritation and anger that is just like there, you know, when you’re around kids or it can be, is quite easy to access.” I then dug a little deeper and was curious if having to act out truly distressing or emotional scenes was different now that she has kids. I felt like I learned quite a bit about Emily with her answer.
“I have to be careful putting real feelings into that. When I was younger, I used to do it a lot. And I think you open neural pathways that are even if it’s for totally fictional reasons. Take for instance you imagine that your children are in an accident and that can set you off and make you feel emotional. Which is maybe what you need to get in the right place.”
Emily continued with, “But I have a syndrome which is called catastrophization. And I am, particularly bad after childbirth. When you’re feeling a bit bluesy and everything’s a bit weird. Everything was like, oh my God, what if that TV falls on your head, what are we gonna do? I’ve opened that door too many times. It’s like a muscle that I have ‘cause I’ve done so many desperately sad movies. So I have to be really careful to let it go. And tell myself very clearly that it’s not real.”
“But even so, you put your body, you know, ‘cause every time you get emotional, you have put your body through the chemical response to emotion. And you have to really treat that with respect. I was on a film in Mexico a couple of, last month. And, in a funeral scene, and I was just like, we were just about to start and I could feel the whole thing getting there, and I just thought, I’m never doing this again. But, uh, hey, I love my job.”
I know that was a lot of quoting, but I enjoyed hearing Emily talk and how she worded things, and wanted to let you be a part of that.
Emily Watson is an absolutely lovely actress whom does a beautiful job in War Horse. Getting to talk with her and feel the real person that she is gives me greater appreciation for her work and this movie. Next week I will be posting my review of the movie itself, so stay tuned for that.
This is Emily Watson and Jeremy Irvine at the red carpet premiere of War Horse, in NYC. They are the mother and son team from War Horse.