Twin Peaks

The Yin-Yang Glamour Girls of ‘Mulholland Drive’

Harring shrugs off queries about her adventures through the pageantry circuit. "It gave me my SAG card, because a producer saw me on TV and offered me a role. But other than that, it just slowed me down. For years, they put me in this box that I couldn't act. When I got the call about Mulholland Drive, I didn't even have an agent. I was so, like, giving up on Hollywood. You know, you get heartbroken."

Improbable as it seems, once upon a time Watts considered herself a beauty-school dropout too. Watts did work in Australian commercials as a teenager, which led to a yearlong modeling contract in Japan. "I nearly wanted to kill myself—I was 18 and I wasn't used to going to hundreds of castings and lining up and being told you're not pretty enough. After that, I decided I would never go before the camera again." Watts became an editor at the avant-garde fashion mag Follow Me by age 19; that same year, she took part in a weekend acting workshop as a favor to a friend and realized she was in the wrong line of work. "So one Monday morning I walk into my boss's office and say, I quit. And two weeks later I got cast in Flirting," John Duigan's 1991 teen romance with Nicole Kidman and Noah Taylor.

Watts's first post-Mulholland project is "a wacky Miramax comedy" with Brenda Blethyn and Christopher Walken called Plots With a View, shooting now in Wales. Next up for Harring is Nick Cassavetes's John Q, in which she plays "a very trashy obnoxious hick. But my new thing is action," Harring says. "I'm learning tae kwon do because I want to do Matrix-type movies, like kick some butt. I saw Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon three times."

Drive, she said: Laura Elena Harring and Naomi Watts
Photography by Robin Holland
Drive, she said: Laura Elena Harring and Naomi Watts

She's seen Mulholland Drive five times, while Watts has logged three viewings; both report every go-round reveals new meanings and hidden clues. "There are dozens of different interpretations," Watts says. "People have said to me, I loved the movie—I didn't understand it, but I loved it.' And they find that strange. But to me, that's brilliant, and I think it's David's whole endeavor—a honest, visceral reaction that doesn't need to be explained."

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