Thandie Newton’s July interview with Vulture nearly broke the internet thanks to the Emmy winner’s revealing stories about working with Tom Cruise and dealing with sexism and racism during the casting process for Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels.” In a follow-up interview with Variety published this week, Newton said the praise she received for criticizing major industry figures like Cruise and former Sony head Amy Pascal “surprised” her, adding, “I thought that I would be in trouble because that’s kind of what I’m used to.”
Cruise and Newton starred together in the action sequel “Mission: Impossible 2,” but the actress admitted that Cruise’s on set behavior “scared” her because he acted like “a very dominant individual.” Newton remembered one moment where Cruise was “so frustrated” with her performance that he made her switch roles with him so he could act out in front of her the performance he wanted her to do. The actress said Cruise’s behavior “pushed [her] further into a place of terror and insecurity.”
While Newton would not tell Variety if she had heard from Cruise following the Vulture interview, she did confirm her revelations “made people frightened.” The actress added, “Individuals were very frightened…It’s like how far back do you go?”
As for Pascal and “Charlie’s Angels,” Newton said the Sony executive didn’t think she would be “believable” in the role of super-spy Alex because that character “went to university and is educated.” When Newton reminded Pascal that she attended Cambridge, the executive allegedly responded 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.” Newton said Pascal proceeded to “reel off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character.”
Why speak out now? Newton told Variety that her honesty is the result of “happening to be an older woman who has recognized that knowing the truth and speaking the truth has benefited me a hell of a lot more than being silenced or seeing people silenced around me.”
“And I have nothing to lose,” Newton added. “I have nothing to lose because I could just then not get hired, which is kind of normal for people in my generation anyway…It’s not about confessionalism, it’s not even about my confessions. It’s about that this is the reality of what people face.”
Newton is once again an Emmy nominee for her performance in “Westworld.” It’s her third nomination for the series and she won the prize in 2018 for her performance.