- - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Actress keeps fear of horses under wraps in Spielberg film

It’s a good thing nobody told Steven Spielberg that Emily Watson is afraid of horses when she signed on to his new movie “War Horse.”

The actress said she didn’t tell the director about her fear until just days after she began shooting the movie in Devon, England, last fall. Miss Watson said she had to overcome her fears because she was so excited about being in the Spielberg film, due out Dec. 25.

“I’m not very good at animals generally,” Miss Watson said in a recent Associated Press interview. “I like domestic animals, but big, large ones that might hurt me — I’m a bit of a wimp.”

Miss Watson plays Rose Narracott, mother of Albert, a young man who bonds with a horse that is sold to the British cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War I. She said “War Horse” is not just a story about a boy and a horse but also a “profoundly moving document” of how warfare changed. She said when British cavalry charged and the Germans responded with machine guns, “that was a turning point in history, and our horse is in the thick of that.”

Miss Watson plays a different mother facing a different conflict as Janet Leach in the true story “Appropriate Adult,” which premieres on the Sundance channel on Saturday. The drama is based on the complex relationship between Mrs. Leach and Fred West, one of Britain’s worst serial killers, played by actor Dominic West. Mrs. Leach, a mother of five, was West’s court-appointed “appropriate adult” — a British term for a person who sits in on police interviews to safeguard the rights of someone in custody deemed vulnerable.

Mrs. Leach played a key role in uncovering gruesome serial killings committed by West and his wife, Rosemary, between 1967 and 1978. Miss Watson, who met with Mrs. Leach, said she was a complex woman who ultimately was damaged by her experience.

“She does something really, really good, which is to take on the role of appropriate adult in one of the most notorious cases in British history, and she pursues it, and she sticks doggedly to it, but she oversteps boundaries left, right and center, and she becomes much too close to this criminal.”

Gaga takes anti-bullying message to White House

Eccentric pop diva Lady Gaga took her anti-bullying campaign to the White House on Tuesday, where she was lauded as a source of strength for many young people who are scared at school.

Her visit follows a White House bullying conference earlier this year, called to mitigate the plight of nearly a third of U.S. schoolchildren — 13 million students — who are bullied each year, according to official figures.

President Obama was in Kansas making a major speech on the economy, but Lady Gaga was welcomed to the White House by Valerie Jarrett, one of his most senior political advisers.

“Lady Gaga has described this cause as a personal one — she has said that as a child, she was often picked on for being different,” Miss Jarrett said in a White House blog post.

“I am deeply moved by the way she has used her story, and her success, to inspire young people, and shine the spotlight on important issues.

“Over the last three years, we have seen that when we work together on behalf of human rights, we can accomplish truly amazing things, yet too many young people still remain at risk.”

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