Thandie Newton holds nothing back in a new Vulture interview covering her nearly three decades as a working actress. Newton gets brutally honest about a handful of career-defining projects, from her growing frustrations over “Westworld” to her issues filming the sexual assault scene in “Crash,” and one of Newton’s most notable stories involves the making of “Mission: Impossible 2.” Newton was cast as Tom Cruise’s love interest Nyah Nordoff-Hall in the John Woo-directed action sequel. One moment with Cruise on set proved to be a nightmare.
“I was so scared of Tom. He was a very dominant individual,” Newton said. “He tries super hard to be a nice person. But the pressure. He takes on a lot. And I think he has this sense that only he can do everything as best as it can be done.”
Newton remembered a time she got angry with Cruise during a filming of a night scene in which their characters were to have an intense, confrontational moment together on a balcony. The actress said John Woo made a decision during the making of “Mission: Impossible 2” not to speak English, which made it difficult to work out and nail scenes. Cruise was not happy with Newton’s performance during the scene in question and got “so frustrated” that he made them switch roles so that he could act out what he wanted from Newton’s performance in front of her.
‘We filmed the entire scene with me being him — because, believe me, I knew the lines by then — and him playing me,” Newton said. “And it was the most unhelpful…I can’t think of anything less revealing. It just pushed me further into a place of terror and insecurity. It was a real shame. And bless him. And I really do mean bless him, because he was trying his damnedest.”
Newton called her “Beloved” director Jonathan Demme later that day to tell him about her experience on set. She described the moment to Demme as “a nightmare.”
“I was describing it, it was clear that I thought I was the big fucking problem,” Newton said. “And Jonathan was like, ‘Thandie, shame on you for not backing yourself.’ He was really sweet. And then Tom called and I thought, ‘Oh, this is it. The apology.’ No, he was just like, ‘We’re going to reshoot this next week.’ I’m like, ‘Way brilliant.’ And the next time we shot it, I went in there and I just basically manifested all the — because I realized what he wanted. He just wanted this alpha bitch. And I did as best as I could. It’s not the best way to get the best work out of someone.”
Newton noted that Cruise’s behavior was purely born from stress, and she added that she ended up having “the most extraordinary time” making the “Mission: Impossible” sequel. Head over to Vulture’s website to read Newton’s interview in its entirety.