My favorite Emily Watson – looking back at her most memorable roles

Emily Watson is one of those rare, highly versatile actresses that plays such a wide variety of roles – from a private eye to a housemaid to a dead bride and everything in between – that she literally defies typecasting. Two of her most memorable recent roles include Tammy, the assistant to Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Caden Cotard in SYNECDOCHE, NEW YORK (2008) and Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker in the critically acclaimed ORANGES AND SUNSHINE (2010). I, along with everyone here at Sundance, am eagerly awaiting her next big role alongside Dominic West (The Wire) in APPROPRIATE ADULT, the upcoming Sundance Channel Original Mini-Series, airing this Fall.

To get myself sufficiently prepared for another of Watson’s powerhouse performances, I’m revisiting my favorite role of her’s as Lena in Paul Thomas Anderson’s 2002 tour-de-force of awkward, desperate relationships, PUNCH DRUNK LOVE. The film was a rare opportunity for Adam Sandler to take a break from hamming it up for the camera as the shy, lonely and depressive Barry Egan, who escapes from the drudgery of his life as a plunger handle salesman by buying massive amounts of Healthy Choice pudding in an attempt to win the Hawaiian vacation prize promotion the company is running. Then he meets Lena, who’s probably the only woman besides his sisters he’s spoken to in a long time – and you can tell. Their first date is filled with awkward conversation and missed opportunities, but luckily Lena is just as anxious and desperate for love as Barry is and somehow, even as Barry is being harassed by a mattress shop owner who runs a phone sex line (Philip Seymour Hoffman), they manage to piece together a relationship.

Who can forget the scene when the two are kissing in their hotel in Hawaii and Lena whispers, “Your face is so adorable. Your skin and your cheek. I want to bite it. I want to bite your cheek and chew on it. It’s so fucking cute…I wanna chew your face and scoop out your eyes. I wanna eat them and chew on them and suck on them.” And more importantly, who could pull it off better than Emily Watson?

Have a favorite Emily Watson moment? Let us know what it is, and don’t miss her in APPROPRIATE ADULT this Fall.