WCW: Naomi Watts


Australian actress Naomi Watts is another I don’t necessarily think of as a “frock flicks” actor, but she’s done a bunch of them! Soon she’ll be playing American socialite Babe Paley (1915-17) in season 2 of Feud (see pics at the Daily Fail). Until then, let’s run down her historical resume:


Leo’s Girlfriend in For Love Alone (1986)

Per IMDB, “A poor young woman in 1930s Australia falls in love with a dashing but arrogant teacher who preaches free love and watered-down socialist precepts. She follows him to England, meeting a gentle banker en route. The film follows her relationships as they are transformed in England.”

1986 For Love Alone


Frances Heffernan in Brides of Christ (1991)

A young woman joins a convent in 1960s Australia.

1991 Brides of Christ


“Shopping Cart” Starlet in Matinee (1993)

A comedy about the promotion of a shlocky horror movie during the Cuban missile crisis.

1993 Matinee

I think she’s an actress in the film-within-the-film.


Fanny Grey in Wide Sargasso Sea (1993)

One of two terrible adaptations of the modern-written Jane Eyre prequel.

1993 Wide Sargasso Sea

Probably the alternative to Bertha?


Mary Chandler in Timepiece (1996)

A clockmaker is accused of murder in the 1940s.

1996 Timepiece

Oh 1990s, how you loved “raisin” lipstick!

1996 Timepiece

Cute! Peplum! Collar tab thingie!


Giulia de Lezze in Dangerous Beauty (1998)

She plays the straight-laced wife of Marco, the love interest of a courtesan in Renaissance Venice.

Dangerous Beauty (1998)

In her defense, no one had ever shown her how to loosen up.


Alice Fairfield in The Wyvern Mystery (2000)

An adaptation of a Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1869 “sensation” (pre-melodrama, pre-Gothic) novel.

2000 The Wyvern Mystery 2000 The Wyvern Mystery 2000 The Wyvern Mystery


Rebecca Yoder in The Outsider (2002)

A Mennonite (Watts) falls in love with a gunslinger in the American West.

2002 The Outsider
2002 The Outsider



Julia Cook in Ned Kelly (2003)

She’s the love interest and wife of a rich Englishman in this biopic about the late 19th-century Australian outlaw.

2003 Ned Kelly


2003 Ned Kelly


2003 Ned Kelly

Great hat! (c) Focus Features/courtesy Everett Collection


Ann Darrow in King Kong (2005)

She’s the 1930s starlet who travels with a movie team to film the giant ape.

2005 King Kong

I wouldn’t specifically watch it for the costumes, unless you’re also into monster movies, but it really has some great 1930s costumes!

2005 King Kong

This coat & hat was my favorite.

2005 King Kong 2005 King Kong


Kitty Fane in The Painted Veil (2006)

A doctor and his wife (Watts) deal with their marriage and cholera outbreak in 1930s China.

2006 The Painted Veil

Historically accurate Battenberg lace!

2006 The Painted Veil

LOVE that sheer lingerie dress look!

2006 The Painted Veil


Helen Gandy in J. Edgar (2011)

She played the longtime secretary of J. Edgar Hoover in this biopic.

2011 J. Edgar 2011 J. Edgar
2011 J. Edgar

Excellent age progression!


Gertrude/Mechtild in Ophelia (2018)

She plays the queen/mother of Hamlet in this version of the Shakespearean told from Ophelia’s perspective.

2018 Ophelia

I probably should watch this, because this is gorgeous.

2018 Ophelia

Maybe not my favorite?

Ophelia (2018)

GREAT colors on a blonde!

Ophelia (2018)


What’s your favorite of Naomi Watts’ many frock flick performances?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

6 Responses

  1. ayla

    I loved her performance as Gertrude, and the gowns in that film are absolutely stunning. The movie itself is… ok, could def be better, but honestly the costumes makes up for it in my book lmao.

  2. florenceandtheai

    I haven’t seen many of these. So those I have:
    -Dangerous Beauty (I still love it, don’t lecture me): I felt so sorry for her character. She (Giulia, not Naomi) would’ve realistically been 15, maybe 16, and going into an entirely new environment. Yes, she would’ve been raised to expect it, but there’s still a shock, and probably not any kind of sex ed.
    -King Kong: It was fine? Don’t remember much, so clearly didn’t make an impression.
    -Ophelia: Please watch it, if only for the pretties. She does a good job exploring the nuances of Gertrude’s situation, so it isn’t a weird Oedipal thing like in Mel Gibson’s version (ha!).
    -The Outsider: Haven’t seen it, but I DID grow up in Amish country (N Indiana). I think her “Mennonite” makeup is hysterical. At least her hair’s up?

  3. Brandy Loutherback

    Let’s talk about Hemlines in The Painted Veil: Even in the 20s/30s Hemlines were long! They were short in TPV, due to the heat of China. Wild guessing on my part as I can’t find any press about The Painted Veil costumes online!

  4. Heather

    Wait that was Clive Owen? I need to see that film, the costumes are pretty amazing and I do love me some Clive…
    I also need to take a look at King Kong, though it would be hard for them to match the original. At least it has some tempting man candy with Jack Black and Adrian Brody.
    I’ve only seen her performance in the Painted Veil but obviously I have more watching to do, especially Timepiece, that looks the most interesting to me.


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