Thandie Newton explains why she dropped out of 2000’s Charlie’s Angels

By BBC News
Thandie NewtonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Thandie Newton has revealed she dropped out of starring in the 2000 film remake of Charlie’s Angels.

The actress said she took issue with being asked to play up to racial stereotypes, adding that she also felt “objectified” in the role.

“I just couldn’t do it… I didn’t want to be put in a position where I was objectified,” the actress told Vulture.

She was replaced by Lucy Liu, who starred alongside Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz in the movie.

Newton discussed her past experiences of harassment and abuse in the movie industry as part of the extensive interview.

She said she had a “little black book” of the bad things that had happened to her in Hollywood.

Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, pictured in 2019Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionDrew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu, pictured in 2019, starred in Charlie’s Angels

In the interview, she said Charlie’s Angels director Joseph McGinty Nichol, known as McG, described the opening shot of the movie to her, saying: “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 realise 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’,” recalled Newton.

The actress also said Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of the film’s producer Sony Pictures, used black stereotypes when discussing how to make her character more “believable”.

“She [Pascal] was like, ‘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 said she was “horrified to hear” Newton’s comments, adding: “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.”

McGinty has not commented on Newton’s remarks.

Sandra Bullock, Thandie Newton and Matt DillonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThandie Newton says her “black book” features the movie Crash, which also starred Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon

Newton said: “This [Charlie’s Angels] is a long time ago anyway, and all those girls are brilliant. But if that was me now, I’d want to disrupt rather than run away. I think that’s probably the change in me.”

Newton said her time on Charlie’s Angels was one of several negative experiences while working as an actress.

“There’s the disgusting thing that happened with the casting couch. I’ve got my little black book, which will be published on my deathbed,” she said.

“I’m not doing it when I’m alive. I don’t want to deal with all the fallout and everyone getting their side of the story. There is no side of the story when you’re sexually abused. You give that up.”

She added that the Oscar-winning movie Crash, starring Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock and Don Cheadle, had “got a chapter in my black book, I’m afraid”.

Tom Cruise and Thandie NewtonImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThandie Newton describes Tom Cruise as being “really stressed” on Mission Impossible II

Newton also spoke about her time working on Mission: Impossible II, saying that she was “so scared” while working with Tom Cruise because he was a “very dominant individual”.

“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 said that during the filming of one scene, he suggested they rehearse by switching places so he could show her how he wanted certain lines to be delivered, which put her in a “place of terror and insecurity”.

“He wasn’t horrible,” she added. “It was just – he was really stressed.”

Cruise has not commented on Newton’s remarks.

Newton, who is British and lives in London, has had a long and successful career appearing in both movies and television for almost 30 years.

She also starred with Cruise in Interview with the Vampire. She’s appeared in the Star Wars anthology movie Solo: A Star Wars Story.

On TV, she has starred in the hit BBC series Line of Duty, earning a Bafta nomination, and is currently in HBO’s sci-fi series Westworld, playing the sentient android Maeve, for which she’s won an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

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