Thandie Newton isn’t here to suffer fools and will tell you about Tom Cruise

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There are not many celebrities that make me fangirl, but Thandie Newton is definitely one of them. What most people don’t know is that she has been in the acting biz since Halle Berry and is considered one of her contemporaries. I didn’t take notice of Thandie until Crash in 2005. Now, I get excited when her name is mentioned in conjunction with a project.

In an interview with Vulture, Thandie speaks about what it is like in the industry for women, specifically a black woman. And in the age of Me Too, people are listening. She is making sure to clear up those pesky rumors that many journalists called an “affair” with Flirting director John Duigan in which she says she was being, “groomed and sexually abused,” while a teenager. She states that the industry, “objectifies,” and “exploits,” women, and that complaints from women of color are rarely taken seriously. That’s ok, she’s found a way to remedy that by not only speaking up, but taking names in her “little black book,” that will be released when she dies.

You can tell by reading the interview that Thandie isn’t here to suffer fools and has no f*cks left to give. There was some name dropping of bad players in Hollywood, and even though the interview verged toward heavier topics in a  raw, honest, and thoughtful way, it was sometimes funny albeit extremely awkward. Like that time she worked with Tom Cruise on Mission Impossible 2:

What was your experience like on Mission: Impossible 2? And why didn’t you do another one?
Oh, I was never asked. I was so scared of Tom. 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. There was one time, we were doing this night scene, there were so many extras with pyrotechnics and you name it, and it was a scene with him and me on the balcony. And I don’t think it was a very well-written scene. I get angry with him. We’re frustrated with each other. And we’re looking out over Spain. It wasn’t going well. And John Woo, bless him, wasn’t there. He was downstairs looking at everything on a monitor. And John had made a decision at the beginning of the movie, unbeknownst certainly to me, that he didn’t speak English. Which I think was very helpful to him, but it was extremely unhelpful to the rest of us. So this scene was happening, and Tom was not happy with what I was doing because I had the shittiest lines.

And he gets so frustrated with having to try and explain that he goes, “Let me just — let’s just go do it. Let’s just rehearse on-camera.” So we rehearsed and they recorded it, and then he goes, “I’ll be you. You be me.” So we filmed the entire scene with me being him — because, believe me, I knew the lines by then — and him playing me. 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.

I remember at the beginning of the night, seeing this slight red mark on his nose, and by the end of the night, I kid you not — this is how his metabolism is so fierce — he had a big whitehead where that red dot was. It would take anyone else 48 hours to manifest a zit. I saw it growing, and it was like the zit was me, just getting bigger and bigger. I remember calling Jonathan Demme. I described the night to him: “A nightmare.” As I was describing it, it was clear that I thought I was the big fucking problem. 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.

He wasn’t horrible. It was just — he was really stressed. I had the most extraordinary time, and you know who got me that role? Nicole Kidman. I’ve never actually outright asked her, but when your husband is like, “Who would you mind me pretending to shag for the next six months?” You know what I mean? It’s kind of nice if you can pick together. Nicole was a huge advocate for me.

[From Vulture]

I didn’t want to recount her entire interview here because I believe it is worth a read. It is still shocking to me how much these actresses we admire go through behind the scenes, and how misogynistic, colorist and racist Hollywood can be. It takes strength of character and courage to be able to stand up to bullies. The Me Too movement has created strength in numbers that is allowing these women to come forward with their stories so that they can let it be known that abuse of any kind, will no longer be tolerated. As for Thandie, she fired shots at the executives when she stated, “So careful what you do, everybody, because you might find yourself fucking over a little brown girl at the beginning of a career, when no one knows who she is and no one gives a f*ck. She might turn out to be Thandie Newton winning Emmys.”

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37 Responses to “Thandie Newton isn’t here to suffer fools and will tell you about Tom Cruise”

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  1. Ninks says:

    The whole interview is brilliant and definitely should be read and it kind of feels wrong to focus on the Rom Cruise story instead of the other things she talks about. But, I feel like she really nailed Tom Cruise in a way that nobody else has managed. She wasnt awed by his star power but totally saw through him.

    • Noki says:

      I wanted to hear more about these journalist that thought it was appropriate to call it an affair with a sixteen old getting groomed by an older director.

  2. Laalaa says:

    I was a huge fan of hers until I watched a roundtable where she participated.

    • Züri says:

      What happened at the roundtable? I like her a lot and really enjoyed her interview with Marc Maron a few months ago. But I’d still be interested to hear about what happened to change your mind.

      • Laalaa says:

        I just youtubed it, it was with Angela Basset, Claire Foy, Maggie Gyllenhaal etc, and she didn’t let anyone else talk, I think it’s enough if you read the comments on that video.
        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a bad opinion of her now, but… let’s just say that it was a LOT

    • Slowsnow says:

      I think I said the same in another post about her. She came to a gallery I worked in once in London and I was so in awe with her. Super sweet and normal. Then recently I watched that round-table and man does she have the beautiful-girl-used-to-have-people-listening-to-her kind of vibe. ALL the comments of the video are about how she ruined the round-table and how particularly Basset cannot even. And Basset was who I really wanted to listen to, as well as Foy. Gyllenhaal had the same attitude which turned the whole thing into a two-woman show.

    • Züri says:

      @laalaa and @slowsnow Thanks! I’ll check it out. I don’t tend to read comments on Youtube, but I’ll definitely be sure to avoid them on this one.

  3. manda says:

    She plays Maeve on West World as an alpha bitch and is the best part of the show!

  4. Stacy Dresden says:

    I love her! This interview was great. She is obviously an intelligent, self aware person. The zit manifestation bit was hilarious!

  5. notpretentious says:

    I really enjoyed reading this interview, and she really knows how to express her opinions very well. Her revelations were very eye opening. However, I never heard her speak on her blackness before. She has played many roles where her character was involved with a white male and no mention of her being black–which could be seen as forward casting–but she had the air of being unaffected by race. I mean not as much as Halle Berry had been at least.

    I understand that there is often a crisis of identity among multi ethnic people and maybe now during the time of BLM, she is taking a stand. Is this timely, or bandwagon-ey?

    • Leigh says:

      I’ve previously heard her speak on her blackness in the context of speaking about how few quality roles there are for black women in Hollywood. She was particularly upset when Angelina Jolie was cast as Marianne Pearl and basically wore blackface in the movie. I know that Angie is/was friends with Marianne and the film was produced by Brad Pitt, but it was still wrong.

      I also don’t know many visibly black people who grow up in majority white countries and are “unaffected by race.” I don’t think we really have a choice in the racist western world. Halle Berry just had a bigger platform from which to speak and be heard. And even if Thandie is speaking out now because of the broader conversations about race that are currently taking place, why does that make her experiences less noteworthy? White women were not accused of being “timely and bandwagon-ey” when speaking out about their experiences of sexual abuse during the Me Too movement.

      • notpretentious says:

        I hear you Leigh. I don’t mean she has been unaffected by race, everyone is affected by that. You have some fair points. Please don’t think of it as criticizing Thandie as much as there was general surprise, for me anyway, for the comments from her. I would never seek to diminish her experiences. That has happened to us (black women, men) for centuries, and it is most certainly something that I have experienced as well.

      • Truth hurts says:

        @Leigh. The black face accusation is pathetic and it was silly to call it that. Yet again Angelina got the heat yet Brad Pitt the producer never opened his square mouth to say anything. MP who is not black asked her to play the role so she did. End I story.

      • Prayer Warrior says:

        Also, Thandie is British, Halle is American
        Different standards, as we are all seeing now

      • Leigh says:

        @TruthHurts – Mariane Pearl is of AFRO-Cuban, Chinese and Dutch descent, so she is part black. Angelina Jolie is white. Mariane is much more similar to Thandie than Angelina in phenotype and would not have had to darken her skin color (as Angelina did) to play Mariane. It was blackface. End of story.

        I believe I also mentioned Brad in my post above.

  6. Tiff says:

    The whole interview is amazing! I love Thandie and am a huge fan of hers ❤️❤️ E. Alex Jung put out 2 amazing interviews over the last week. His interview on Michaela Coel is also excellent.

  7. Harper says:

    Tom Cruise is an intense, scary individual. I feel for Thandie. And Nicole. And Katie.

  8. Mina_Esq says:

    I LOVE her and her daughter! I think I’d be intimidated to meet her because I wouldn’t think I’m cool enough to be in her presence. She perfectly describes Tom Cruise. He seems unnecessarily intense. It makes me so sad to read these stories, but it’s honestly not just a Hollywood thing. It’s really effing hard being a woman, especially an independent and driven woman.

  9. Sean says:

    I felt so bad for her reading about her experience filming “Crash”. How could they not discuss that with her well before the scene was shot?

  10. TrixC says:

    Man, she totally skewers Tom Cruise. Talk about damning with faint praise. “He tries super hard to be a nice person”. Ha ha ha ha ha.

    • holly hobby says:

      US Weekly also quoted this interview. They highlighted the fact that she got a “greatest story ever told” workup of $ci. Yeah she said a lot all right.

  11. Jules says:

    Wow is she the first person to actually speak the truth about Cruise? We all know he’s bonkers and obsessed with a cult, yet he’s also managed to squeak by, still making movies. Maybe the truth will finally come out.

  12. Turtledove says:

    I can’t believe that the part of that EPIC interview that has gotten the most attention online is the Tom Cruise stuff. I mean, that stuff is interesting, but not nearly as interesting in pretty much everything else she has to say.

  13. Esp.Lumiere says:

    The entire interview is gold. She does not hold back and she tries to be fair, giving the good with the terrible.

  14. FilmTurtle says:

    The whole interview is a real eye-opener in many ways. She owns up to certain things and really lets other people have it, man. But not in a slash-and-burn way. It’s quite a read. The Tom Cruise stuff is really a side dish (although it’s interesting to get a peek behind the facade, as he works so intensely to project a certain image).

    I never saw that roundtable interview mentioned upthread, but I’d be wary of blaming her for coming across as overbearing when it could simply be bad editing.

  15. Chica1971 says:

    The Amy Pascal stuff is so icky.

  16. L4frimaire says:

    That was a fire interview. There is so much I learned from it. Definitely need to reread. Love her on Westworld. The Tom Cruise thing was minor. Did not know she had it out with Ta-Nehisi Coates. That was interesting. She had gone through some things. Just wow!

  17. Ms_TheTea says:

    I’m confused by the “since Halle Berry” part? ‘As long as Halle Berry’? It’s very strange to start an article on one actor by seemingly randomly inserting the name of another, especially when they have obvious link to one another aside from being Black.

  18. Abby says:

    whewww that’s an interview. I didn’t totally follow all of it, but man. Hollywood just seems like a dumpster and terribly misogynistic, plus racist. I forgot about that for a second with all that 2020 has brought us.

    I agree with y’all, the Tom Cruise part is the least interesting section of the interview. But it totally confirms what I feel like he probably is like.

  19. Jess says:

    Thandie and Tom were both in Interview with the Vampire in 1994, but I guess they didn’t have any scenes together? She really stuck out to me when I saw her in that film, even though her part was so small, just like “wow, what a star!”. Her first movie (“Flirting”) was with Nicole Kidman, so I guess they’ve known each other since the early 90s. In my opinion, she is one of THE BEST actresses of her generation (everyone should see Beloved, for instance) but she’s never gotten the attention she deserves. I’m glad people are finally paying attention to her, she deserves like at least three Oscars lol

  20. HpEszti says:

    This interview was AH-MAZEBALLS. I do love a tell-all however as said by numerous people before, it is absolutely appalling what treatment BIPOC and women receive on these sets…

    Also who is Oya? Do we have a new writer on the site? Her style of writing fits seamlessly into the other posts so I almost didn’t see it. Was there an announcement I missed?

    • HpEszti says:

      Totally checked the “writers” tab and answered my own question so please disregard 🙂

  21. Nana says:

    Still vividly recall her performance in Flirting, it was standout – above and beyond those of Nicole Kidman, Naomi Watts and Noah Taylor – all very early in their careers.
    The Year My Voice Broke was one of my favourite all time films growing up, so I’m disgusted to hear of Duigan’s treatment of her and can’t believe I didn’t know this til now, so of course he’s cancelled. Looking back on the trailer for Flirting, although it was a different era, it encapsulates everything she calls out about Duigan; how horrific for her, given it was her very first film.

  22. Laura says:

    I find her annoying and full of herself. There are few hollywood celebraties who are tolerable. One of them is Ricky Gervais.