In her latest film, "Insurgent," Naomi Watts plays a mother who reunites with her grown son after leaving him when he was a child.
Needless to say, the reunion is a bit complicated.
Starring as Evelyn, the mysterious chief of a rogue group of "factionless" people in the second installation of the "Divergent" series, Watts is one of several female leaders in a post-apocalyptic Chicago, where people are divided into factions based on their personality traits. (Divergents, if you haven't seen the first movie or read the books by Veronica Roth, don't fit into any of the factions and are hunted by the Erudite clan.)
In real life, however, Watts, mother of two boys with partner Liev Schreiber, admits that she can't imagine ever having to leave her kids.
"It's hard to imagine that you would abandon your child," Watts said about her character on Friday at a press conference for the film, opening March 20. "So, very hard to reconcile that one, but we know that (Evelyn) was going through something that she felt was life-threatening, and a great deal of abuse, and that was a survival choice that she had to make."
"I couldn't imagine that anything could be so bad that my children would be left," she continued, "but this is the world of storytelling, and it's a fun character because that's a complex thing to take on—the regret—but she's got drive, and she wants to fix the relationship."
What the film does keep coming back to, Watts said, are family and identity.
"At the center of (the film) is a great theme, which is this struggle of identity," she said. "Who are we when we leave our families? Who do we become? What are we capable of? And that's something that never leaves us. It begins at that point in your life as you leave the nest, and I don't think we stop wanting to explore that question."