Naomi Watts discovered that there is a price to pay for starring as iconic heroine Ann Darrow in Peter Jackson's majestic, multi-million dollar version of King Kong.
The slender English-born actress illustrates the physical wear and tear of being hurled into the prehistoric world of Skull Island when we meet the day after she's filmed a demanding night shoot.
Naomi rolls up a trouser leg to reveal a series of livid cuts and bruises that she suffered while filming the sequence when she's dragged by natives in preparation for her ritual sacrifice to the mighty Kong.
The injuries happened as Naomi was being thrown about and dragged roughly across the ground. “I fell down a few times and got scratches and bruises,” she says, pausing to roll down her trouser leg.
Initially during the first rehearsal the natives overdid it a bit as they grabbed Naomi. “And I actually said, 'Wait, let's pull back on that.' I thought…how could I get through the night?' says 36 year-old Naomi.
So by the time they got to the first take the other actors were a lot gentler with Naomi, but after they had toned down their aggression and ferocity both Naomi and Peter Jackson realised that the scene now lacked the essential feeling of terror.
“I felt and Peter felt that the fear and the struggle wasn't coming across, so we went back to what we did in the rehearsal,” says the plucky actress.
At one stage it seemed that Naomi's head was actually thumped off the ground and she chuckles when I mention that. “There was a lot of head shaking, ahh, it was just like going to a head banging concert,” says the grinning star.
This keenly anticipated version of King Kong sees an over enthusiastic director, his leading lady and scriptwriter lead an expedition to the mysterious Skull Island to investigate legends of a giant gorilla named Kong. Naturally they underestimate the great beast and the island's natives and the actress is taken captive by the natives who offer regular sacrifices to the giant gorilla.
Which is why Naomi spent hours going through the emotional and physical sequence of the sacrificial ritual over and over again in the darkness of Mount Crawford, on the outskirts of Wellington, New Zealand where the impressive Skull Island set had been created.
The working conditions were very tough because enormous rain machines poured down as the cameras rolled, meaning that Naomi and the actors playing the natives were freezing cold.
Obviously great care was taken to ensure that Naomi was kept warm during the breaks between takes. “They gave me this special fleecy coat, lined with what looks like aluminium foil to keep the heat,” she says.
The consequence of the conditions was that Naomi wasn’t required to rely on her imagination to act out the scene. “Whatever was happening was real, thanks to the contribution of all the other actors around me there was all that great energy.