November is a big month for Naomi Watts. The two-time Oscar nominee, honored most recently for The Impossible, has a pair of films opening, the most highly anticipated of which is Diana, in which she portrays the late Princess of Wales. Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and inspired by the book Diana: Her Last Love by Kate Snell, the film focuses on the last two years of Diana’s life and her secret love affair with Dr. Hasnat Khan (Naveen Andrews).
Watts admits that she hesitated before taking the role. “You have a responsibility playing real-life people especially when people know them and have their own idea of who that person is. Diana is the most famous woman in the world so instantly there’s this huge pressure,” said the actress, who in her off-screen life is in a long-time partnership with Jewish actor Liev Schreiber, with whom she has two sons.
Watts’ second film, opening November 15 in limited release, is Sunlight Jr., a contemporary drama in which her role is about as far from royal as possible: She plays a poor, pregnant convenience store clerk involved with an alcoholic, jobless paraplegic (Matt Dillon) and stalked by a volatile ex-boyfriend (Norman Reedus). It all sounds (and looks) very bleak, but writer-director Laurie Collyer shines a ray of hope on these seemingly hopeless lives.
Returning to the comic book realm in Thor: The Dark World, which hits theaters November 8, Natalie Portman reprises her role as astrophysicist Jane Foster, the love interest for the titular Avenger (Chris Hemsworth). Off screen, the Israeli-born Portman is wed to French choreographer Benjamin Millepied who is not Jewish; they met on the set of Black Swan and married in 2012 in a Jewish ceremony. She has said she plans to raise their son, Aleph Portman-Millepied, in her Jewish faith.
Portman has no plans of slowing down: She will be directing her first feature film from her adaptation of Israeli writer Amos Oz’s memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness next year in Jerusalem. She’ll also play the role of Oz’s suicidal mother.
While it might be a bit of a stretch to make this interfaith connection: Jennifer Garner was briefly involved with her Alias co-star, Michael Vartan (who has interfaith parents), before she met and married Ben Affleck, but we needed a reason to recommend her latest movie, the excellent Dallas Buyer’s Club. Garner plays a sympathetic doctor in the drama set in the early days of the AIDS crisis, starring Matthew McConaughey as a subversively defiant patient and Jared Leto as an afflicted transgender. Both are nearly unrecognizable due to dramatic weight loss—and astounding. In New York and L.A. theaters now, the film opens wide on November 22.