Thandie Newton says it's 'very unusual' she's still getting roles: 'I'm a 47-year-old Black woman'

Raechal Shewfelt
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read
Thandie Newton explains reaction to her candid comments about the entertainment industry. (Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP)
Thandie Newton explains reaction to her candid comments about the entertainment industry. (Photo: Chris Delmas/AFP)

Thandie Newton, who’s appeared in a steady stream of movies and TV shows — many of them lauded, just as her performances in them — is very aware that she’s an anomaly.

“I’m a 47-year-old Black woman. I shouldn’t even be able to get a role [now]. It’s very unusual,” Newton said on Wednesday’s episode of The Big Ticket podcast from Variety and iHeart. “I feel like I’ve been in three generations of film and that’s not what usually happens. There’s such a quick turnover that people aren’t famous enough to reveal things and have people listen because once someone drops out of their fame, people aren’t going to pay attention. They’re not going to listen. I feel like in a way at the point when a lot of people drop out, Westworld gave me another opportunity, which kept me, I guess, still relevant and current.”

Newton, who’s played the role of Maeve on the HBO drama since it debuted in 2016, was commenting on another interview she gave to Vulture, in which she spoke candidly about the racism and sexism she’s faced in the entertainment industry.

Read more: Thandie Newton prefers Westworld to Star Wars

Among other things, the Mission: Impossible 2 actress said then that she’d had a tough time shooting with Tom Cruise, because she was scared of him. Newton also said she’d left Charlie’s Angels after a disturbing encounter with former Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal. (Pascal didn’t remember the interaction, but said she was “horrified.”)

Tom Cruise & Thandie Newton Attend The 'Mission:Impossible-2' Premiere In London'S West End. (Photo by Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images)
Tom Cruise & Thandie Newton Attend The 'Mission: Impossible 2' Premiere In London's West End. (Photo by Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images)

Once Newton’s comments were out, she said she was applauded for her candour, for “not drinking the Kool-Aid.” But, of course, that’s not why she spoke out.

“I just happened to be an older woman who has recognised 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,” Newton said. “And I have nothing to lose. I have nothing to lose because I could just then not get hired, which is kind of normal for people in my generation anyway. So I’ve got nothing to lose and I would rather go out using this moment… It’s not about confessionalism, it’s not even about my confessions. It’s about that this is the reality of what people face.”

Listen to Thandie Newton read STOR14S episode Magic Squirrels:

Newton said she had anticipated more blowback. She declined to comment on whether she had heard from Cruise or Pascal.

“I felt solid the whole time, but I know that it made people frightened. Individuals were very frightened… It’s like how far back do you go?” she said.

She expects to return to her HBO gig “sometime next year.”