Naomi Watts Took Great Care Not To Terrify Her Young Co-Stars In Goodnight Mommy [Exclusive]

Naomi Watts is no stranger to making horror movies with kids. She was phenomenal in Gore Verbinski's remake of Hideo Nakata's "The Ring" as a mother desperate to save her son from the fatal consequences of having watched a cursed videotape. She also appeared in Jim Sheridan's "Dream House," which leans in part on the old creepy dead girls trope.

So Watts is right at home in Matt Sobel's remake of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala's "Goodnight Mommy," in which a woman, swathed in facial bandages, is reunited with her young twin sons (Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) after she's undergone extensive, yet unexplained cosmetic surgery. All her boys know is that the blinds must be drawn due to her light sensitivity, and they cannot enter her bedroom or office. Her strict nature strikes the boys as odd. As they spend more time with her, the change in temperament is so extreme that the brothers begin to suspect that the woman under the mask might not be their mother at all.

To be a bad mother onscreen, you've got to be a good mother offscreen

The notion of losing one's mother mentally, if not corporeally is a lot for a child to deal with. It was also difficult for Watts, a mother of two children in real life. So having to be twisted and downright cruel to a couple of kids, even if it's all pretend, was something she took very seriously.

As Watts told /Film's own Danielle Ryan, "I'm a mother, I worry about my kids getting hurt all the time. I worry about twisted thoughts in their heads all the time. To be in a space where you are actually being told to inflict those things, was really unsettling for me. Of course, I did my due diligence."

To make sure everyone was on the same page, Watts had conversations with the Crovettis' mother, Sobel, and most importantly, the boys themselves. She was ultimately comforted by the fact that the youngsters were "seasoned professionals" who'd been working for several years.

"Often when you work with children, it's their first time. I really did feel better about the situation because of that, but I also needed to do obsessive check-ins with them. 'Are you okay? You understand this? Are you sure I can put my hand there? Are you sure I can ... Do you feel safe?' Then break the tension in between takes with a silly game. That was the hardest part for me."

The kids were alright

The film industry has obviously made a tremendous amount of progress in its treatment of child actors since the days of, say, Judy Garland, but it's still reassuring to hear a veteran actor like Watts speak so eloquently and sensitively about working with young performers. There are far too many tragic stories of Hollywood kids who developed shockingly early addictions to drugs and alcohol, and many of these sad tales start with neglect on the part of the adults who should've kept a closer eye on their vulnerable collaborators.

So when you check out Sobel's "Goodnight Mommy," which hits Prime Video on September 16, 2022, take comfort in knowing that Watts had the emotional welfare of her cast mates at the forefront of her mind.