Naomi Watts: ‘I Feel Torn Between Two Worlds’

05/07/2010 at 08:00 AM ET
Courtesy BlackBook

Gracing the cover of BlackBook, Naomi Watts is the personification of cool, calm and collected.

The actress has considerably less confidence when it comes to parenting sons Alexander ‘Sasha’ Pete, 2½, and Samuel Kai, 16 months, however.

“Every single day, I second-guess myself as a mother,” she confesses. “I chose to be a mom. It’s something I’ve always wanted, but I feel torn between two worlds.”

Candidly, Watts, 41, admits that her work has suffered since welcoming the boys.

“I am not reaching the same depths and heights that I used to reach in movies because I’m a parent of two small children who desperately need me,” she explains.

“It’s frustrating because I feel like I’m failing a bit on both ends”

Nonetheless, Watts — who insists she feels “comfortable in chaos” — later suggests that she and fiancé Liev Schreiber may someday add to their family.

“I would love to have an endless brood of children,” she muses. “Whether or not I’ll ever adopt remains to be seen, but I totally believe in adoption.”

Her role in the new film Mother and Child called for Watts to submit to her first full-frontal nude scene; When a crew member tipped off the paparazzi, however, it became a moment she’ll never forget — in more ways than one!

“It was so hard for me to do that,” she laments. “I had just had a baby, so my body was completely different. But I thought that if I was going to play this ballsy woman, I needed to go for it.”

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Beth on

Welcome to the life of a working mom. All of us feel that when each morning when we go to work. It’s about quality time spent with your kinds, not quantity.

kelly on

I fail to see how admitting to your children that you are indeed human and that you struggle to be the best person that you believe possible could ever be detrimental to them. I, for one, want my children to know that I think about them in all of my choices and that I always wish to be doing a better job for them as a parent.

Bravo, Naomi, for letting the world see you as a genuine person, complete with insecurities. Your children will benefit from your honesty, because they will grow up knowing that life, no matter how blessed, can also be a struggle.

molly on

It is hard to be a mother and all those “other things” we women need to be for others and ourselves. When you become a mother trying to maintain being a good wife, friend, co-worker or student is a daunting task when you want perfection from all of it.
We are forced to realize that doing the best for our children and our family (including ourself) is first and foremost and that the rest you do your best and will fall into place how it may. One day again, those other things can take a higher priority, but when your children are young it is a delicate balancing act. I think it is important that women admit that to themselves and other women so the guilt can be let go and we can all help each other when things get tough.

Tracy B. on

Join the rest of us who work for a living. What you do is make what time you have count! Plan tea parties, picnics in the living room, etc., where your focus is only on the kids.

Jamie on

Being a mom is first and foremost. My child is the most important thing in my life, and if it ever came to work over child…child would definitely come out on top. I’ve been a single mom before, so I know that at times you do have to sacrifice and work hard to get what you have. However, as someone else said, you make those moments with your children count. They go by way too fast.

lori on

quit sniveling and stay at home with your kids–God knows you have enough money to do so.

T~ on

See and my first thought upon hearing that they would want me to do nudity would be my kids, and i would say no. Why must they ruin good movies with constantly having women be nude. It does not add anything to the plot, and men do not get the same rate of nudity as the women do.

Honestly women in hollywood should band together and stop it. I personally do not care for a movie that uses nudity for humor or really anything else.

I watched good luck chuck and wedding crashers on TNT and they were just as funny without all of the crass language and nudity. Same goes for forgetting Sarah Marshall.

I just am one of those people who dont see the need for nudity, violence for the sake of shock value, and mindless garbage.

It always amazes me the majority of movies that stay number for weeks on end, are usually movies the whole family can watch. Yet hollywood insists on passing out pathetic drivel full of “shock” value crap, and trying to pass it off as a movie or “art”

mercredi on

Anyone who says it’s ‘quality over quantity’ is full of it.Kids do NOT understand – they can’t. It’s a biological impossibility to explain to a small child why you can’t be there – their brain and cognitive development doesn’t ‘register’ till around 13yrs.I don’t know what the answer is to mothers who struggle with the guilt in order to provide, but I know Ms. Watts options are certainly better than most of us out here, and if I had her money I’d find a way to fulfill my art in a different way than leaving my children to be raised by a nanny. You don’t get those years back. I regret all the time I’ve had to spend away from my child. I honestly get a tad nauseated when celebrities talk about their parenting.

Jessica on

I’m glad to hear from Ms. Watts that I’m not the only Mom who second guesses herself everyday, who wishes she could be with her child more than she is at work. Who cringes when her child reaches back towards the sitter and cries when picking up her child, God that’s horrible. She’s fine after a bit, and she’s happy when I put her in the car, but those moments where she feels like she would rather stay with the sitter who she saw all day, than see me, are heartbreaking. It never doesn’t hurt to wonder what I’m doing to my child by being at work M-F. Thank you Ms. Watts for being honest and forthcoming about your own struggles as a Mom.

Karen on

Her children will be little for so short a time. How much money is enough?

lois on

Yes its hard to have a career and family. But she knew before she had them. Should have had waited thought about it. also you have to get out and audtion for parts.They can’t come to you.I know its for her but she want kids anyway. should have stopped at one child. But hope she get out there and find some work anyway. good luck. I like her work.

Melisa on

While I applaud Naomi Watts for being honest with people, I don’t think she is being honest with herself. It is completely unnecessary for her to work. Its not like they need the money. Nobody should feel torn between work and motherhood….motherhood comes first and foremost. I have a home based daycare, and I have one family that needs to work. The others pay me so they can have a bigger house, extra car, a boat, horses…etc etc etc. I don’t knock anyone who needs to work…but there are a whole lot of people living way beyond their means and their kids are the first ones to suffer for it.

shanda on

It is hard but she knew that when she got them. She should have and it wouldn’t been so hard for her to get roles.why is so hard for them to admit that in the first place? Nothing is more important but your children. Other actress that got kids pulled it off . why can’t she? enough are being upset. she that’s what she want when her movie fall years ago.

kansasrefugee on

Does anyone else wonder why working moms don’t get dads more involved? I think kids really love to have attention from both parents and I know many men treasure having room to develop their own bond with their kids.

In other words, Naomi, where is Liev in this? Can’t he do half of the providing for your childrens’ needs? You might be amazed at how this will make you feel free to focus on work when you’re there.

This narcissism that some women have that they are more important than the father in being a presence in children’s lives drives me crazy.


As many things in life, everyone who have children have to decide whether would prefer invest more in the profession or in family, or if some difficult situation arise, who is first?Despiste of the fact of not having yet a steady professional life, which is something that I hope to get in a couple of years, I chose that my priority is my son or my family, because without them life to me is looseness. I tried to find an equilibrium, according to my principles, between being the best mom on earth and the best teacher to my students.

hillary on

That’s exactly why i stay at home with my two little ones (same age as hers!) i don’t want to give 50% to work and babies, I want to give my all to one thing, my children! I feel her pain 🙂

Elda on

She is so sweet, love her new perfume commercial!! just take it day by day, Baby Girl.

Crystal on

I really hate when posters say “why doesn’t she stop working? She has more than enough money.” She wants to do both. Acting is her job! She loves her job and is good at her job. Both she, Liev and the children have a certain lifestyle they are accustomed to. They have private school tuition, college tuition and other expenses that they must pay for. Maybe she wants to be able to contribute her part of the household instead of being at home. Either way she is a working mom. She has chosen this and we should lift her up instead of saying why doesn’t she just stay home?!? It makes the people who do stay home seem bitter and lazy.

Lori on

Looking at some of these posts makes me sad. Women are so judgmental of each other: “she has money, she doesn’t need to work! Her kids will never forgive her…quantity over quality indeed!” In the spirit of Mother’s Day, and to all of those women every day who do their best to raise children, work outside the home, are single mothers or married and take care of husbands too, and all of the above who frankly and probably do not take the best care of themselves as they are worried about everyone else: let’s support each other and stop judging. Let’s be kinder and gentler to ourselves and other mothers, and more forgiving because we do the BEST we can. Happy Mother’s Day.

Karen B. on

I think it’s ridiculous that people seem to think she should quit a career that she have a true passion for, just because she doesn’t have to work for financial reasons. A lot of parents work because they love their careers. And that’s just fine. A lot of people work because they want a better lifestyle to provide for their family – yes, they want a nicer home in a better (safer, better schools, less crime, more parks, etc.) neighborhood. They want to provide fun family vacations in unique places. They want to be able to have a big yard to play in. To pay for a great college without loading their kids down with loan debt. That’s all OK.

The reality is that stay at home mothers have always been and will always be a rarity in this country and around the world. It became a 1950’s – 70’s ideal that now plagues women who feel guilty about not being able to do or not wanting to.

She is allowed to have a great love and passion for acting, and to want to do it great. And she’s allowed to want to be a loving and good mom to more than one child. And she’s allowed to feel a little overwhelmed and sometimes guilty about not being able to do it all perfectly. You go Naomi!

bebi on

@ T, yhank you so much for your comments- I totally agree. I love the edited versions of movies, nothing gets taken away conceptually and most of the time its way funnier.

I’m probably going to stir up the hornet’s nest, but I disagree with the concept of kids coming first. I think that’s why we’re seeing marriages fail at an all time rate because the kids are the priority over the marriage. Don’t get me wrong, kids should be a top priority. They just shouldn’t be the top unless you don’t want to stay married. Most of the time, it was the two of you before the kids and it will be the two of you after they leave. Kids need to see parents who love another and place a high value on that relationship as well. I’m off my soapbox now :).

Erica on

I agree bebi.

Casey on

@Karen B., I couldn’t agree more! I was raised by a stay-at-home mom and I so appreciate how hard she worked to raise my sister and I. That was what she chose–she would rather stay home with her kids than work, and that made her happy. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with wanting a career AND a family. Why should a woman have to give up her goals and dreams just because she has children? Isn’t that mindset exactly what our grandmothers fought so hard against?

Karen on

To the poster who complained about us stay at home moms saying she should choose her children, I say it again with no apologies. It’s not unusual for the time spent filming to be 12-18 hour days for months at a time. I have a problem with that. Perhaps she could take some time off for a while and spend time with her toddlers. Either that or quit moaning and groaning about her poor choices.

Liliana on

As a single mother, I have to work but even if I wasn’t in the position I am today, I still would continue working because ::gasp:: I love my job. My children are my number one priority and there’s no doubt about it but it’s not a sin to be a mother and work in an environment that you thoroughly enjoy. I’m lucky, as most people don’t seem to like their careers, but I’ve worked hard to get where I’m at and am proud of myself since it definitely wasn’t an easy road to travel.

I honestly don’t understand all of the judgments made within these comments and can’t comprehend why a mother must give up something she has an obvious passion for because she has children.

hayley on

quit sniveling and stay at home with your kids–God knows you have enough money to do so.

– lori on May 7th, 2010
ick how horrid are you! my goodness didn’t your mother ever teach you if you can’t say any thing nice……….

how about stepping back guys, we all have hardships no matter what they are and yes sometimes they effect the time with out children but at the end of the day if kids no that mummy loves them and does every thing she can to make them happy and her too thats all they need. A happy mother = happy kids and thats the bottom line.

we should try supporting each other, being there to listen and its ok to have a day where you feel like your failing in every way but tomorrows a new day.

Liliana on

TJ, Cameron can only use his father as an excuse for so long. It’s easier to blame others than it is to realize that you’re the one with the problem. While it is possible that Michael could have done a better job parenting, he did not force a life of addiction on Cameron. There are many children who’ve grown up in worse situations that haven’t become dependent on harmful substances. To me, it’s a cop out and not a valid argument.

AG on

This is a great discussion, but on a lighter note, I would love to see Naomi Watts play Marilyn Monroe in a huge feature film made for the big screen. I think that would be fascinating!

More relevant to the topic, I’m a full-time mom, and it’s hard. I wouldn’t have it any other way, but I just can’t bring myself to judge another mother who has a good heart and is really trying to do what’s best.

Gina on

I was always tired when I raised my son at the age of
twenty five. I can only imagine how I would feel raising two
children at the age of forty one. My advice to young women is don’t wait that long to have child. Yes, she looks amazing, but don’t forget she is a rich celebrity.

DD on

I don’t see why it’s so hard to believe that she would want to work. She is lucky enough to have a successful career in the performing arts and probably gets a great deal of satisfaction in her work. I think she’s saying that she wants to give 100% to her job and 100% to her family and she’s frustrated because she can’t do it all. That’s a problem I think most women can relate to. My mother stayed at home to raise us and she always talked about how hard it was to be a good wife, mother, friend, and still have time to pursue her own interests. We all want to do everything and do it well.

Erin on

Aren’t we ready to declare that there are all kinds of moms, families, etc. and that what is right for one isn’t by definition right for another? Must we lecture each other about having to stay home with your children while they’re young (or even not so young)? For every kid that’s messed up allegedly because his mom worked there’s at least one that’s messed up because his mom was there TOO much.

I agree with bebi not only because kids shouldn’t take priority over your marriage, but also want to throw in that they shouldn’t take priority over a lot of other things. Like your sanity. Or your personal interests. Or your friendships. Kids are a blessing and a joy. And they need to know that their parents’ lives don’t revolve around them. That doesn’t mean you don’t love them or want to get rid of them! It means they should be raised to be competent, informed, caring human beings. That’s my job – to raise our kids to be adults. Not to make sure I have a thousand scrapbooks showing them every second of their lives or taking them with me everywhere I go.

I happen to have a career I love, worked hard for and got an education for. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Neither would I trade my little ones for the world. I’m not perfect, I drop the ball, I feel guilty, I get snippy, I cry. I occasionally want to strangle my husband! But I’m trying to have it all – not society’s definition of having it all. My definition. My mom “had it all” (back in the 70s) and my three sisters and I all turned out great. So to all you moms, no matter what kind of work you do (because it’s ALL work!) – give yourselves a break. Have a little fun. Don’t take every second of life too seriously. And Happy Mother’s Day.

Laura on

I wish that women wouldn’t be so judgmental of other women and that people wouldn’t treat their opinions as fact. The research shows that children of working mothers fare just as well as children of stay at home mothers. (When kids go to quality daycare, there is a slight social benefit).

There are many reasons that people choose to work in addition to money– intellectual and creative stimulation, personal and professional growth, and so on. With many professional careers you cannot return (at least not at the same level) after taking years off. What’s most important is to be honest with yourself about what is most fulfilling to you and what is best for your children. Remember the saying, “The best thing you can do for a child is to take care of her mother.”

Kimberlee Chrisman on

Sorry Naomi, but a tea party or picnic doesn’t cut it with little children. They need their mommy full time! If you have to work, that is one thing. You don’t. In a few short years they will be more independent. You can never get this time back. Wake up.

hayley on

you no afterrading a few of these comments its make you wonder why so many women fought for hard for our rights …..because clearly for some of you it wouldn’t have matterd, next you will be saing we don’t need to vote becuase thats more time away think about something other than our children.

its not men thats repress women its other women and their studpid judgements.

we have more rights than we ever did are we supposed to just give them up once we become mothers? are we supposed to just take steps back , show our children that yo no what mumy loves you so much tha even though i want to work because mummy has a passion she isn’t going to ….no she is going to stay at home with you and wish she was at work to make allllll others mums happy.

or better yest mummy needs to work but loves you soooo much that we can all go with out food but hey aeast we are togther…..

we all do our best . end of. thats is what makes a good mother doing your best.

Christoper T on

I love Naomi Watts. She has a true artist’s talent, and she yearns to express it. This can prove difficult if you have children. She should concentrate on her art, for we will miss the best from her if she does not. She does’nt need to have kids.

Kimberlee Chrisman on

what rights are you talking about? The right to birth children and then hand them off to someone else to raise? that right?

Erin on

Kimberlee, what tea party and picnic are you talking about? You sound pissed off. Maybe you should concentrate all your energies to your own kids instead of ripping someone you know nothing about. Or maybe you should become Naomi’s kids nanny so you can save them from the life you seem to think they’re doomed for.

Alexis on

I find the double standard to be hilarious. A woman must give up everything to raise a child or else she’s a bad mother while men can continue to work in their profession of choice without anyone batting a eyelash.

Kimberlee Chrisman on

hahaha Lee, you take reading between the lines to an all new level! Birth conrol is morally wrong? huh? Give birth to as many as you can? huh? be dependent on a man? huh?

Erin, I think the children probably have enough nannies, besides I’m am busy taking care of my own child (gasp!)

Alexis, what double standard? Naomi said she was a failure, noone else.

No one has answered what rights they would be giving up by raising the children they chose to bring into the world. Like I said, many working mothers don’t have a choice but there are plenty that do. Childen have repeatedly shown in studies to prefer their own mom to more toys, bigger house, nicer car etc. Can’t get around that.

Alexis on

The double standard that on all of these comments, no one says Liev should give up his career to stay at home with the children that are just as much his as they are Naomi’s. That double standard.

A mom of 4 on

Naomi Watts and others like her need to stop whining. Your kids should be your top priority and concern, not your career. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work, or have other interests, but if you feel like “you’re failing on both ends” then FIX IT. Pick your kids first. Trust me, your career is not something you are going to be thinking about at the end of your life. It will be your family and loved ones. Make the most of this short lived life and enjoy being with the ones you love!!!!

m-dot on

I agree w many of you in saying that if it’s such a struggle for her she could easily choose to stay home w her chilren. Since she’s chosen to continue working, don’t whine about it. My husband and I work because we have to. I love my career, but would totally toss it to the wind to stay home and dedicate myself to being the BEST wife and mother I could be. We aren’t in the financial position for that, so I just continue to try my best from my angle.

Chris on

She can afford not to work so I don’t get why she’s so torn. The same goes for Liev but I’m not sure if he also feels that way.

bo-peep on

i think think the really powerful statement here is that you can’t be a mother and perform at the highest level at work…. wonder what % of working mothers find this? and if the effect decreases as the children age?

hayley on

Kimberlee Chrisman word WOW

ok, wayyyyy back when women and no rights , your job was to find a man , get married have his babies, clean his home and lets not forget look pretty and keep your mouth shut.

we had nothing, no say in any thing and women fought HARD so we copuld have the chance to vote, have bank accounts, work and earn the same as men every thing that you take for granted SOME ONE ELSE worked for so before you take us back couple of hundred years think about how you ould fe telling your daughter that yeah we used to be able to work but then people like mummy runied it becuase we wanted to go back to a time when we didn’t have the RIGHT to.

secondly Childen have repeatedly shown in studies to prefer their own mom to more toys, bigger house, nicer car etc. Can’t get around that. ……prove it. there is not one single study that has ever PROVEN that children suffer if mum works there have been lots of studies bit they can not prove and get the medical word to agree with it.

woman have the right to be more than a mum if they want. thas the right we are talking about. jeeeez louise id laugh but really its not funny its really sad.

Alexis on

Catty, much?

Truth be told, everyone needs to get off of their high horses and realize that what works for one family may not work for another. If you choose to stay home and raise children, that’s great. No one should criticize you for that decision. Likewise, if you work, regardless of if you have to or not, that’s wonderful too and no one should assume you are a bad, selfish mother because of it.

Really, what gives any of you the right to judge how one chooses to parent? You don’t know any of the commenters on this website so I find it incredibly immature to make assumptions about people you’ve never met.

All posts of this type end up in a debate about working mothers vs stay at home mothers. Why can’t we all just be supportive of everyone’s ability to choose what’s right for their children? Regardless of what you think, you’re not a better mother if you stay home and you’re not a better mother if you work. Trying to say otherwise is useless because it’s not true.

meghan on

Why do I get the feeling that if Liev made a comment that he struggled to give his all to both his family and his craft people would not be telling him to ‘stop snivleing’ and ‘stay at home with his kids where he belongs’? Apalling.

dfs on

Meghan, I agree. It’s extremely sexist.

Crystal on

I’m sorry but I just don’t agree with a lot of posters.
@Bebe-I agree with you 100%. That is the mistake people make when they decide to start a family. Children come first and are the most important element in the family! That is incorrect. Your husband should come first. Look @ Heidi and Seal. They have always maintained that they come first in each others lives and the children are second. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. Naomi has a career, a partner and children. Acting is her job. Period! She may be torn between two worlds but she’s still acting so I feel that says a great deal about what’s important to her. I’m not at all saying that she is chosing acting over her boys but she has decided to have it all and I applaud her for that.
@Lilianna-I agree with your post.
@TJ-I couldn’t DISAGREE with your post more. Your life doesn’t stop just because you have children. They enhance your life not make it all about them. You need to broaden your horizons.

noam on

i don’t quite understand the uproar here. naomi and liev are both frequently photographed with their children, and rarely (if ever) are there nannies with them. clearly, they spend time with their children.
as for them working: just because they can afford to not work doesn’t mean they should quit. parents shouldn’t give up their passions to devote their every milligram of being to their children. children are members of, not the center of, a family. it’s healthier for a child to have a well-rounded parent than a one-dimensional one. for some parents, that means pursuing a hobby, going to the gym, taking weekend trips with friends,or, yes, even working.
every parent i know feels like they are somehow failing a little bit, somewhere. it’s called being human. i don’t have children, but i work two jobs,and often have guilt and worry that i’m not giving my all, total, 100% at both of them. but i can’t imagine giving either up…

Becky on

It’s not our place to judge. Mothers should stop comparing themselves and instead support each other. Parenting is the hardest job in the world and all we can do is our best and give all the love we can.

Marie on

The ‘moaning and groaning’ is from some of the posters on here, not Naomi Watts. She was giving an interview, which means she was being asked questions, one of which was obviously along the lines of work and motherwood and her honest reponse was that she has two children who need her, but she also loves her work and feels guilty about that conflict – and she hasn’t worked much since her children came along presumably for that reason. I think what she’s saying is, she feels guilty for wanting to work sometimes, to do something else, but she wants to be with her children also.

When and why did it become a crime for a woman to express her feelings about motherhood, conflicting or not? Financial freedom (or what we imagine or percieve is someone else’ financial freedom) does not cancel out the conflict and emotion and guilt and worry that often comes with being a human being, for all kinds of reasons, let alone being a mother. It may not be the same as having to provide for a child, but emotionally it can be equally potent and maybe, when you have more of a choice, it’s harder to make it.

Aaron on

I don’t understand why people here have to disparage Naomi Watts. She was just being honest. I do not have kids personally, but I am the uncle to three nephews and a niece, and I have seen the conflicting emotions that my sister has regarding taking care of her kids, and having a career. Both give you fulfillment in different ways, and it’s hard to balance both of them. Yes, Ms. Watts has many more luxuries than both of us and it would be easy to say to her to drop the movies and take care of her kids, but obviously the money isn’t the issue for her–she’s a very, very talented actress (in my opinion the best working today), and she certainly receives a much fulfillment from her film work. Good for you Naomi for admitting your insecurities and humanity. Best of luck!

Stef on

Those boys look so much alike!!! They’re adorable!


To Melisa – if parents did not pay you to watch their kids so they could work, you would not have a job. I would hate to leave my child at your daycare where it seems to feel sorry for my kid, because you assume I work in order to buy boats and horses and sacrifice my time with my child so that I could buy nice shoes and have a nice house. Do NOT judge the parent’s of the kids who feed, clothes and take care of you so you could have the luxury of a computer to use to bash them.

I could stay home and have my husband pay for everything and struggle from paycheck to paycheck and live in a dumpy apartment. But I want o give my kids a good life and help my husband carry the burden. Teaching my daughter that she too could work and provide.