Post by Thandie. Thandie in W Magazine “On Why She’s Drawn to Tough Roles” The release of Westworld is around the corner (October 2016!) and the publicity machine has officially launched. All us actors have been gagging to talk about participating in the television event of the decade. Which is what Westworld is. It’s exceptional. I haven’t been this excited about a project for a really long time. The potential, the reach, the ambition leaves me giddy. Someone once suggested that to stay good at what you do, you have to remain slightly in awe of it. Westworld defines that idea for me.This W shoot was the first in a long time where Kay and I haven’t styled and taken charge of the shoot. We’ve loved our mash ups for the Blog – it’s always collaborative, creative, fun. Our last sizeable shoot was for New African Woman magazine – and the pictures are evidence of how much we love bringing life to our vision of the world.It took me a moment to remember that I was not in charge! Not a hard task when I have such high respect for W, and love Muno’s photography. I think I annoyed A List stylist Patrick Mackie though. I asked to wear one of the t shirts off the men’s rack, instead of the negligee.At 43 and an activist for Women’s Rights I didn’t want to step into an objectification of a woman; scantily clad (especially ironic with the content of the interview). It turned out that neither did they, and once my uncertainty shifted, I played ball. Instead I tried to ‘t shirt’ the beautiful slip. There isn’t room or time to make political statements when you’re a piece of someone else’s artistic puzzle. That’s the line actors have to walk these days – as models in magazines inadvertently selling big brand’s clothes. Our employers, in return, get eyeballs on their stars and marketing for their product. Somewhere in there the actor gets a slither of credit.It’s one of the reasons why Kay and I started ThandieKay. Not in opposition to mainstream magazines – but so we had a place to freely express the value and fun that comes from being the pilot of our own vessel. Also a place where we can be honest and DO WHAT WE WANT – and share that platform with other bright young things. So, like in life, we weigh up the pros and cons, and do what we can. My presence in W is a privilege, alongside actors I admire – in shows that will intrigue and inspire, my role in Westworld is a privilege, as was my moment working with the W team. And it was heaven to be reunited with the fantabulous Jo Strettle. She and I have worked a LOT together over the years; I’m so lucky to have met her and shared the strange journey of growing up in this business. In fact, I’ll cook up a post of all the looks she’s blessed me with – you’ll like it!Thank you W Mag for including me in your line-up, to Mona Kuhn and Jo Strettle for your beautiful work, and to Patrick Mackie for your patience, and charm (See a clip of Patrick creating the beautiful Tom Munroe shoot of Women in Art for W in 2012 , starring one of my heroines Kara Walker).Heeeeeeeeeer’es DoubleU!!:
The W Interview
Thandie Newton first made an impression playing the title role in Jonathan Demme‘s 1998 adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, surprising critics unfamiliar with the then young actress’ fierce inner strength in channeling the difficult part.The 43-year-old English actress has ticked off all manner of genre over the years, gracing everything from big-budget action films (Mission: Impossible II, Demme’s underrated The Truth About Charlie) to lighthearted romps by the likes of Guy Ritchie and Oliver Stone.But, repeatedly, she has returned to the tough subject matter of her first major leading role, taking on projects like Crash and For Colored Girls that deal with race and violence against women.Her interest may have something to do with an incident at an audition in the beginning of her career, which she recounted in an interview.“A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene. I thought, ‘Ok, this is a little weird,’ but there was a female casting director in the room and I’d done weird stuff before so I did it,” she recalled, without naming the filmmaker.Years later, at a film festival, a producer told her drunkenly, “’Oh, Thandie, I’ve seen you recently!’ And he lurched away looking really shocked that he’d said that.” Her husband approached the man for some clarification. “It turns out that the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it,” Newton said the episode taught her a lesson.“I was so so naïve when I started out and I realize now that we have to prepare our kids— I’ve got two beautiful daughters, one is 16 one is 11. So many people in our business, they don’t want to be the ones to say something that’s a bum out because then they become associated with a bum out and nobody wants to read about so-and-so because they’re always blabbering on about a bum out,” she said. “But one person will read this and it will stop them getting sexually abused by a director. That’s the person I’m interested in.”Given her advocacy work, Newton’s latest role is something of a surprise. Like many actors seeking more ambitious work in Hollywood, she now comes to television, playing the madam Maeve Millay in HBO’s sci-fi series Westworld, which premieres in the fall.
So, how does she square away her devotion to female empowerment with playing a madam in the series?
“Exactly! If you know me at all, it’s like, ‘What the hell is that all about?’” Thandie said. “But that question is precisely what got me hooked. The show is really looking at things that stick in your craw. It poses these existential questions. It’s really fascinating. It’s like being in a game of Dungeons & Dragons except set in the Wild Wild West.
Thandie photographed by Mona Kuhn Styled by Patrick Mackie