Jennifer Coolidge and Naomi Watts Talk The Watcher and Older Women Thriving Onscreen

What would you do for those who began receiving eerie, anonymous letters in your dream home?

“I don’t think I’d just suddenly leave,” Naomi Watts tells, empathizing together with her character Nora Brannock in Netflix’s The Watcher. Within the thriller series, Nora and her family move into a shocking recent house only to be sent threatening letters from a mysterious writer who knows them by name and refers to the children as “young blood.”

Watts’ co-star Jennifer Coolidge, nevertheless, would go for a more defensive approach—one that features “a bunch of rottweilers and pit bulls and german shepherds to surround the home.” The Emmy winner portrays Karen Calhoun, a realtor and old friend of Nora’s who appears to be hiding a secret. Though she’s in a position to sell the Brannocks the home within the show, in real life, Coolidge thinks the family should’ve had some serious protection.


“I feel that’s what’s missing, is just a few really vicious dogs that would really save your life when someone is being so awful,” she says. “And you then consider what an awful thing that’s to do to a family, and you shouldn’t have any mercy for somebody like that.”

This twisted saga relies on the haunting true experiences of the Broaddus family, who received similar letters from someone called The Watcher after they bought a house in Westfield, Recent Jersey, in line with a Recent York Magazine story published in 2018. While multiple neighbors were deemed suspects, ultimately, after years of police probes and personal investigations, Reddit theories and neighborhood gossip, the actual Watcher was never identified. And the Broadduses found a recent home.

“I feel what makes this story so relatable is you’ll be able to imagine this family who’s dreamed about this place, and so they’ve had every kind of plans in place, and despite the fact that there’s risk involved, they’ve done it anyway,” Watts says. “And so they finally got their dream. And to have these bizarre letters after which bizarre people swirling their dream, they’re not gonna let go easily. You may relate to that form of story.”

Soon, Watts, who just starred within the horror film Goodnight Mommy, will portray Babe Paley in Feud: Capote’s Women, also from The Watcher producer Ryan Murphy. And Coolidge, who recently won an Emmy for her performance in The White Lotus, will return to the cult HBO series later this month. At 54 and 61 respectively, each booked-and-busy stars (and countless others across the industry) debunk the ageist comment Watts heard earlier in her profession that it’s over for girls in Hollywood once they turn 40. “I’ve gotten some great parts recently,” Coolidge says, “and I’m not 30 anymore.”

Here, the co-stars talk messing around on the set of The Watcher, Coolidge’s big Emmys night, and roles for older women in Hollywood.

The Watcher saga has so many twists and turns. What was your initial response to hearing that this was a real story? Had you heard about it before the project?

Naomi Watts: I hadn’t, and I don’t know what was happening with me at that cut-off date, ‘cause I do know that almost all of the East Coast was following it with great veracity. But I didn’t learn about it. But after I knew that Ryan was gonna be calling, I used to be told just a little bit in regards to the story and in fact I went and skim the article immediately and got very swept up in it, devoured it. It felt super juicy and super intriguing. And I just imagined myself in that situation how hard it might be. So it was an easy yes.

Jennifer Coolidge: I just do not forget that I knew the story and I remember on the time it was type of one in all those stories you couldn’t really forget. It was disturbing and it was very easy to picture yourself in that situation. I grew up in suburbia outside of Boston and it’s the eeriest form of story ‘cause you realize how vulnerable you’ll be able to be instantly. All it takes is one creepy person.

Did either of you are attempting to get in contact with the actual people you portray? I do know Jennifer, your Karen is just a little more fictionalized, but Naomi, did you are attempting to get in contact with Maria Broaddus?

Watts: No, no. We actually just stuck with the text. Yeah, it’s based on a real story, but creative license was taken. These people may very well be anyone, really. And I’ve definitely played true stories before and located myself wanting to have a conversation or have some form of reference to that person. It will probably be incredibly helpful, however it’s not at all times entirely crucial. And particularly when that person’s not known to the world, it isn’t absolutely vital. Actually, we didn’t know the way the story was going to play out. We had some material, but we didn’t have the entire scripts. So discovering it in real time actually became quite helpful with the entire mystery of all of it.

Each of your characters starting up as longtime friends is a recent addition to the story. I’m guessing you’ve met before joining this project? What was your first day on set together like, and what was it like constructing that rapport for the show?

Watts: We didn’t know one another.

Coolidge: No, but I used to be an enormous fan of Naomi’s for a really very long time. She is type of like an icon in our field and has done this incredible body of labor and all the things is so different. And I always remember anything you’d ever do, Naomi. Like, you’re just etched in my brain and also you’re surprisingly this very humble person. What an awesome combo to be at the highest of your game and type of unaware of all of the admiration someway. Or perhaps you understand and also you’re just pretending you don’t know. I don’t know.

Watts: I used to be super thrilled knowing that Jen was joining the forged. I’d just literally finished watching The White Lotus. I mean, I’d known her work from previous pieces, but this was a moment to essentially watch her shine. I just was blown away by her performance in that, as was the remaining of the world. And so to get on set together with her, it was just implausible. And yes, we had this friendship that was there on the page and it was essential to me that we were comfortable with one another and all the things and we just form of got to know one another on and off the set. [We] had a moment to hang around a bit. She’s solid gold. She just brought a lot.

Coolidge: And we did fiddle too. We did have a pair days where we actually form of joked around.

Watts: Yeah. We definitely went off the page and did a few of our own stuff. Attempting to sustain with Jen after which also hold a straight face isn’t the simplest, however it was fun [laughs]. She makes you raise your game.

the watcher l to r jennifer coolidge as karen calhoun, naomi watts as nora brannock, bobby cannavale as dean brannock in episode 101 of the watcher cr eric liebowitznetflix © 2022

Jennifer Coolidge with Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale in The Watcher.


Speaking of, Jennifer, congratulations in your Emmy, by the way in which. How did you have fun?

Coolidge: Well, I still have yet to have fun. I had a bunch of stuff occurring on the time and I haven’t really blown the doors off yet. I can’t wait. I mean, perhaps I’ll do it on Halloween night or something. There have been some afterparties after the Emmys, but I couldn’t go to them because I’d been carrying this heavy beaded dress and it form of sucked the life out of me. I couldn’t exit and party afterwards. So, you understand, I can have to fly somewhere.

Do you’re thinking that Karen could sell Tanya McQuoid, your character on The White Lotus, a house?

Coolidge: Oh, that’s such an excellent query. I feel Tanya might be very disappointing and make you’re thinking that she’s going to purchase a house from you, but I feel like Tanya on the very last minute might allow you to down. And that may make Karen go nuts.

Watts: I feel like I’d buy anything from Karen.

Coolidge: Really? Nora’s smarter than that.

Watts: Naomi though.

Coolidge: Oh, Naomi! Oh, I see. You’re right.

You’re each thriving in your careers now, and you have got huge resumes behind you. Naomi, you latterly talked about how someone earlier in your profession told you that girls wouldn’t have the ability to be forged after they turn 40 because they change into “unf—able.” I can’t consider anyone said that to you. But years later, how do you’re feeling looking back at that? Do you’re thinking that Hollywood’s perception of older women has modified?

Watts: I feel it’s definitely modified. And by the way in which, that comment was made as like, “That is ridiculous, but that is the speculation,” and it was said to me because I got here in quite late. To not say that I wasn’t trying; I had been attempting to break through for greater than a decade, however it wasn’t until I used to be in my early thirties that I actually managed to get a job where people actually were gonna see this film, and that was Mulholland Drive. And so, the speculation was that you just gotta get cracking now, pedal to the metal, and work like crazy, since it’s probably gonna be throughout. And yes, that horrifying term was used and I used to be like, “Wait, what? What does that mean exactly? I see other women on screen which can be older.”

After which I believed, oh, right, you mean like not playing the leading lady, or what, the reproductive organs aren’t working anymore, so now now we have to play the crazy ladies? Like, this is a few bullshit. But by the way in which, we’re actors, and we don’t mind playing the crazy ladies. I’m good with that; those parts get super interesting actually [laughs]. I’ve at all times preferred the more character-y form of kind of work. And I don’t wish to be boxed in. I don’t wish to be told “these are the foundations” an excessive amount of.

Hollywood has actually modified. I mean, look, there’s so many wonderful actresses on the market who’re well into their fifties, making great strides of their profession, and never going anywhere anytime soon.

Jennifer, is that this something you experienced as well? Have you ever noticed a change too?

Coolidge: I feel you simply should not hearken to it [the criticism] and plow ahead. I’ve been at dinner parties where the entire night is about, you understand, “There aren’t any parts for girls anymore,” and I feel like for those who really sit down and make that subconsciously a reality, someway your mind hears that and you’ll be able to get depressed. But, I don’t know, I’ve gotten some great parts recently, and I’m not 30 anymore. And like I say, a number of the best parts I’ve ever played, I got within the last two years.

Watts: It’s modified. It’s definitely modified.

Coolidge: It’s definitely modified and a few very exciting things are happening, I feel. And Naomi and I had a tremendous female director for The Watcher.

I also noticed a lot of the women are over 50 within the forged [including Mia Farrow, Margo Martindale, and Noma Dumezweni], which is basically great.

Watts: All of them!

Coolidge: Yeah. And Jen Lynch, what a superb director [of The Watcher]. I assume it’s just as much as us to be certain that if these parts aren’t being offered to us, we make them occur.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at There’s a 75 percent probability she’s listening to Lorde immediately. 

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