This week British actress Thandie Newton is being widely and rightly praised for giving an incredibly candid interview to Vulture in which she speaks powerfully about the racism, sexism, and post-sexual assault trauma she has faced throughout her career.
In celebration of her admirable honesty and fantastic acting skills, here’s a round-up of some our favorite Thandie Newton moments.
1. She’s phenomenal in Westworld.
Last year, Newton won an Emmy for her portrayal of Maeve Millay, a sentient robot who begins to kick back against the system that objectifies and oppresses her. During an interview, the actress explained that she was attracted to HBO’s sci-fi western series because at its heart there is a “powerful metaphor.” She explained: “The robots represent the oppressed, whether that’s people in the Third World, dirt-poor employees in China, human trafficking, sex trafficking, the ‘have nots’ being ruled over by those who have,” she said. “The context they created with Western and robots would attract an audience that wouldn’t necessarily want to be preached to.”
Oh, and her Emmy winner’s speech is just lovely.
2. She also gives an award-winning performance in Crash.
Paul Haggis‘s polarizing 2004 drama was a controversial Oscar winner – and in recent years, it’s been called everything from “trite, racist, and dull” to “the worst movie of the decade.” Still, Newton’s BAFTA Award-winning performance as a Black woman sexually assaulted by a racist white cop remains powerful; while addressing the widespread criticism of Crash in her Vulture interview, Newton concedes that her own work in the movie is “quite good.”
3. She’s also excellent in Beloved.
Produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey, director Jonathan Demme‘s adaptation of Toni Morrison‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was a high-profile flop in 1998. It’s actually a very thought-provoking ghost story, though, and Newton gives an eerily memorable performance as the title character, the reincarnated, child-like daughter of Winfrey’s former slave, Sethe. It’s a haunting portrayal in more ways than one.
4. She plays a fascinatingly complicated baddie in Line of Duty.
Newton stars in season four of the buzzy British procedural as DCI Roz Huntley, a senior police officer accused of corruption and mishandling evidence. Newton deservedly earned a BAFTA nomination for her brilliant performance as Huntley – a talented, tack-sharp cop who makes some fatal errors of judgement in a bid to further her career. “I have had a funny relationship with Line of Duty,” she told The Guardian in 2018. “I am very proud of it, partly because it is so unlike me, so it was a real performance. But so many people stop me in the street and say: ‘Roz is such a b***h.’ It hurts me every time, because I felt real compassion for her.”
We have to agree – to describe Newton’t character this way is sexist and reductive.
5. She’s a joy to watch opposite Simon Pegg in the underrated British rom-com Run Fatboy Run.
Newton and Pegg got on swimmingly, and she admitted to playing a whole host of practical jokes on her co-star – including covering a toilet bowl with cling film.” He is extremely easy to do these things to. I got him, what a sap!” she told the BBC playfully at the time.
6. She’s consistently called on the British film and TV industry to improve its approach toward diversity.
Newton, the daughter of a Zimbabwean princess who became an NHS midwife and nurse and an English laboratory technician, was born, raised, and educated in the U.K., but has mainly worked in the U.S. over the years. “I love being [in the U.K.], but I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call the Midwife — well, I could, but I don’t want to play someone who’s being racially abused,” she told The Sunday Times in 2017. “I’m not interested in that, don’t want to do it. There just seems to be a desire for stuff about the Royal family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of color.”
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My Mum was employed by #NHS her entire career. First as a midwife in London, then district nurse and health visitor in Cornwall. We were so proud of her – she’d go off on her bike and visit just about every home in town with a new baby or vulnerable elderly person. She was there at the beginning and end of so many lives – kind and reassuring, always. It’s been devastating to witness the NHS struggle to maintain its excellence over the decades. Most recently the conservative governmental reforms of 2012 led to under-resourcing of public health (£700 million cut between 2014-2019). Covid19 is horrifying evidence of how those cuts weakened national NHS infrastructure, and the price we as a country are now paying. And those on the NHS frontlines have been paying the ultimate price. My Mum is retired, and the thought of saying goodbye to her at our front door before she heads to clinic, as she did every morning, well… I can’t imagine how terrified I’d be. Our NHS should not be seen as a burden on our economy, but THE BEST MONEY EVER SPENT. Thank you NHS workers. Thank you Mum, I miss you xxxx
7. She’s been taking climate change seriously for years.
In a 2007 interview, Newton revealed that she decided to replace her luxury SUV with a more eco-friendly hybrid vehicle after Greenpeace put a sticker on her car saying: “This gas-guzzling 4×4 is causing climate change.” She later teamed up with Greenpeace to write letters to fellow celebrities encouraging them to make the switch to hybrid vehicles, too.
8. She’s great value in the British Airways safety video.
This star-studded tongue-in-cheek video also features Sir Ian McKellen, Gillian Anderson, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Gordon Ramsay. One of the best moments comes when the cringey director (played by People Just Do Nothing actor Asim Chaudhry) mispronounces Newton’s name and she shoots him a classic withering look.
9. She keeps it real on Instagram.
Now, this is how to prepare for a premiere.
10. And finally, she gives the best lockdown makeup tutorials.
As you’ll see in this clip from her latest appearance on The Graham Norton Show, Newton really likes to get creative.
Have we missed one one of your favorite Thandie Newton moments?Read More