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'War Horse' star Emily Watson fears horses

Emily Watson decided not to tell anyone that she was afraid of horses until just a few days before "War Horse" started shooting, because she really wanted to work with director Steven Spielberg.
/ Source: The Associated Press

It's a good thing nobody told Steven Spielberg when Emily Watson auditioned for his new movie "War Horse" that she's afraid of horses.

The actress said she actually didn't tell the director about her fear until just days after she began shooting the movie in Devon, England, last fall. Watson says 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," Watson said in a recent interview. "I like domestic animals but big, large ones that might hurt me — I'm a bit of a wimp."

Watson plays Rose Narracott, mother of Albert, a young man who bonds with the horse who is sold to the British cavalry and sent to the trenches of World War I. Watson 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."

"Sherlock Holmes" returns, Chipmunks get "Chipwrecked," Steven Spielberg directs "War Horse" and Tom Cruise goes on another "Mission: Impossible" this month.

Watson plays a different mother facing a different conflict as Janet Leach in the true story "Appropriate Adult," which premieres on the Sundance channel Dec. 10. The drama is based on the complex relationship between Leach and Fred West, one of Britain's worst serial killers, played by actor Dominic West. 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.

Leach played a key role in uncovering gruesome serial killings committed by West and his wife, Rosemary, between 1967 and 1978. Watson, who met with 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."