Nia Long is following in the footsteps of Thandie Newton by calling out the problematic casting process for the 2000 action movie “Charlie’s Angels.” In a new interview with Insider, Long revealed that her agent notified her that she wouldn’t be getting the part of Alex Munday in “Charlie’s Angels” because she “looked too old” to star opposite costar Drew Barrymore. Long said she believed the rejection had racist undertones.
“I was like, “What?” Long said. “I love Drew Barrymore, I think she’s amazing, but I think that was just a nice way to say you’re a little too Black. Personally, that’s what I think. Because if you notice there were no brown skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film.”
“The feedback that I received from my agent was, ‘She just looked too old and sophisticated to be next to Drew Barrymore,'” Long continued. “And I’m thinking to myself, it’s an actor’s choice to walk in the room how they want to look, but it’s a director’s vision to help create and curate a character. So if you couldn’t see beyond the fact that I had on a blazer and a pair of jeans then that was clearly not the job and opportunity for me. So, no problem, I’ll keep it moving.”
The role ultimately went to Lucy Liu. In a Vulture interview published earlier this month, Thandie Newton revealed similar issues with the casting process for Alex Munday in “Charlie’s Angels.” Newton said she was turned off from the project after director McG spoke about the character in crude terms.
“The director said to me, ‘I can’t wait for this. The first shot is going to be…You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realize it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your ass it’s going to look like tarmac.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together.'”
Newton also revealed that Sony executive Amy Pascal didn’t think she would be “believable” in the role because Alex “went to university and is educated.” Newton reminded Pascal that she attended Cambridge, but the actress said Pascal responded to her by saying, ‘Yeah, but you’re different. Maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.’ She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character.”
Pascal told Vulture she was “horrified” by Newton’s revelation and that she did not remember the conversation taking place. “While I take her words seriously, I have no recollection of the events she describes, nor do any of her representatives who were present at that casting session,” she added.
IndieWire has reached out to Sony for further comment. To read more from Long about the “Charlie’s Angels” casting process and her new Netflix movie “Fatal Affair,” head over to Insider’s website.