Naomi Watts

Naomi Watts had just a few starring roles in major flicks on her CV when she scored her first Oscar nomination for 21 Grams aged 35. But the British-born, Australia-raised actress wasn't just your average overnight success.

Her lucky break had been well-earned, coming after 15 years in the business, when the actress already had more than two dozen movies under her belt.

Born on September 28, 1968, Naomi was just nine years old when her father, Peter, a Pink Floyd tour manager who had divorced her mum in 1972, passed away.

Four years after her dad's death, her mum Myfannwy, a Welsh antiques dealer and amateur actress, moved the family to Sydney, where Naomi began pursuing an acting career. At one audition, the teenager met someone who would become one of her closest friends, fellow aspiring actress Nicole Kidman.

Five years after Naomi made her first film, For Love Alone, her career looked set to skyrocket. In 1991, she scored a regular role on Aussie series Home And Away and was also cast in Flirting, in which she played a high school student alongside Nicole and the film's headliner, Thandie Newton.

Ready for the big time after enjoying relative career success, the 22-year-old budding leading lady who, in retrospect, described herself as "naïve" jetted off to Hollywood, where she made her first US film, Matinee, in 1992.

Having anticipated launching herself onto the Tinseltown scene, instead she found herself caught in a cycle of bit parts, indie films and B-movies.

Don't expect Naomi to shun her modest beginnings in flicks such as Children Of The Corn IV, though. "Listen, back in that day I didn't have much choice, but I was happy to work," she says. "I always believed that work begets work. It wasn't an A-class picture, but it was a job."

It was nearly a decade later that her career finally picked up momentum, after she was cast as an aspiring actress in David Lynch's Mulholland Drive in 2001.

Having been worn down by rejection "so many times", she wasn't exactly optimistic about the audition for the film, which was initially meant to be a two-hour TV pilot. "But there was something about David. When I got up at the end of the meeting he hugged me," she said. "I thought, 'This is the most unusual audition I ever had!'."

The pilot was rejected, but Mulholland Drive was made into an acclaimed feature film which eventually earned Lynch an Oscar nomination.

From then on, Naomi hit her stride in a string of starring roles, including the blockbuster hit The Ring, the Merchant-Ivory production Le Divorce, and the movie that put her on the Academy Awards A-list, 21 Grams.

Unlike the Scarlett Johanssons and even Nicole Kidmans of the world, success for Naomi has taken its time in coming, but with a mantelpiece full of awards, she's holding no grudges. "I paid my dues," she says. "I think everyone has to pay their dues at one point. It's better to pay 'em when you're young."

So far as her personal life is concerned, Naomi remains discreet. After her relationship with Australian actor Heath Ledger came to an end in 2005, she began to be seen about town with theatre actor Liev Schreiber.

The couple welcomed their first child, Alexander Peter Schreiber, on July 25, 2007. Alexander was then joined by second son Samuel Kai on December 13, 2008.
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