Emily Watson is an oddity in todays, ever-growing, celebrity obsessed culture. Though rightly acclaimed for her performances, what is most striking of the Oscar nominee is her down to earth demeanour. Even when discussing her awards, films and celeb friends, the British born actress is approachably real. Movies.ie caught up with the actress to discuss her life, the industry and her latest film Q: What are you reading at the moment?A: I’m reading an awful lot of books about Evgenia Ginzburg who survived the gulag basically. She taught Russian Literature in a University and was arrested – an awful, awful story – but the most incredible story of survival. She survived a lot of the time by reciting poetry to herself. And she has an amazing love story when she met a man in one of the camps. Q: You are playing Evgenia in the film of her life. A: Yes. It’s really quite an undertaking. We’re in preparation for filming in Warsaw and Germany. Q: And you’ve finished ‘Fireflies in the Garden’? What can you tell me about that?That’s an American director called Dennis Lee (check sp) who I think is very gifted. It’s a sort of family drama where lots of things unfold at an event. Julia Roberts plays my older sister. She’s absolutely lovely. And dazzling in person, she’s wonderful. Q: You’ve also worked with Philip Seymour Hoffman recently… in Synecdoche (due 2008), what’s it like working with such a heavyweight?A: Philip Seymour Hoffman is an incredibly powerful actor; he’s great to be around. He has incredible concentration. I’ve been in three films with him: he was in Punch Drunk Love and Red Dragon but we never had scenes together but Synecdoche was the first time I had scenes with him. I know him through mutual friends anyway, so it was really nice to have the chance to have a run-out with a really great athlete, as it were. Q: Does working with ‘great athletes’ such as Hoffman raise your game?A: Phil is a bit like working with Daniel Day Lewis; it’s a similar thing. He’s incredibly concentrated and really, really ‘in’ the part. It can be draining, but then you go home to your life. Q: Do you still get nervous walking onto a set for your first day’s filming?A: It is intimidating especially if you have a big acting challenge, because the circumstances are never right. There’s always something to distract you or put you off, or upset you. You have to really learn to protect yourself against that stuff. I guess if you stop being nervous, you should give up. It’s like flying. Q: Would you say you have developed a thicker skin through being in the industry?A: Definitely. Definitely, definitely. I’m much less ‘putable-offable’. Some of the stuff in ‘The Water Horse’, like the scene on the beach when we all see Crusoe (the Loch Ness Monster) for the first time – I knew going in to that that it was going to be absolutely impossible, that it was going to be absolutely freezing cold, there was going to be rain machines – we wouldn’t be able to hear each other. So you have to go into things like that with a game plan because otherwise, you never get it. Q: What will you and your husband be doing this year for Valentines Day?A: My husband and I will look each other in the eye and say ‘humbug’ probably. I can think of nothing worse than going and sitting in a restaurant with twenty other couples. We’ll probably have a meal at home. Q: Who does the cooking in your house?A: He’s the cook. I’m a terrible cook. Terrible, terrible cook. I don’t have patience, but if I had to cook something, I’m quite good at omelettes. Q: Finally, do you believe in the loch ness monster?A: No. I’m a cynic and a realist.