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Naomi Watts has had a storied and diverse career as an actress. Usually, she’s holding down parts in prestige pictures like Birdman, 21 Grams or The Painted Veil. She also has dabbled in blockbusters (Insurgent, Peter Jackson’s King Kong) and worked with outstanding directors. But Watts was also linked with a horror franchise for some time, showing up as Rachel in 2002’s The Ring and its sequel, The Ring Two. But when it came time to reboot the franchise with Rings, opening on Friday, director F. Javier Gutierrez told our own Eric Eisenberg why they decided not to have the actress back. Turns out, they had specific reasons:

Well, at some point we were toying with the idea of Naomi Watts. It was a couple of moments that we were talking about that for a while. The problem is [that the studio] was concerned. There was concern about tying it too much to the previous one. So, it was not necessary. I mean, it would have been cool for the fans, probably. For the new audiences, they wouldn’t care too much. It was kind of forced. We didn’t want to force it too. Like, ‘OK, they are putting Naomi Watts here too, because of The Ring.’

Right.

Because you feel bad when you watch a movie and the audience…

It takes you out of it. I totally get that.

Yeah, totally takes you out.

Here’s a recent example. Remember when you were watching the rebooted Ghostbusters movie, with an all new cast of female Ghostbusters? But then Bill Murray, a famous Ghostbuster in his own right, showed up playing a paranormal skeptic who opposed the lady Ghostbusters. That was so weird, and forced. So I understand where F. Javier Gutierrez is coming from with that sentiment.

Though it’s based on a similar premise as the original The Ring (which, in turn, was lifted from a Japanese horror film Ringu), Rings at least tries to expand on the premise. The cursed tape that has Samara on it lands in the hand of a college professor who is using it to train and educate students on the afterlife. So by showing the tape to dozens of college students, that seems like they will be spreading the “virus” to a lot of suddenly endangered teens. Right?

Rings stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki and Vincent D’Onofrio. It opens in theaters on February 3.

February 2, 2017
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