Thandie Newton turned down a role in the iconically camp Charlie’s Angels because of a racist encounter with a producer

Josh Milton July 8, 2020
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Thandie Newton. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Thandie Newton. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Thandie Newton has revealed her decision to turn down a role in Charlie’s Angels was motivated by a venomous conversation she had with a studio producer.

Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore formed the holy trinity of campness when, in 2000, they starred in the McG-directed Charlie’s Angels.

Liu was drafted in after Newton pulled out of the film, which two decades on, she has confirmed was because of a racist encounter she had with former Sony chair Amy Pascal, then-head of Columbia Pictures.

“I had a meeting with her, and she said: ‘Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role, I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable,'” Newton told Vulture.

Amy Pascal. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Amy Pascal. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

“I was like: ‘What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?’

“She’s like: ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated.’

“I’m like: ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’

“She went: ‘Yeah, but you’re different […] 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. Everything she said, I was like, ‘Nah, I wouldn’t do that,’ she’s like, ‘Yeah, but you’re different, you’re different.’

“That was Amy Pascal.”

Thandie Newton says the first shot of Charlie’s Angels would have been a close-up of her rear.

The Westworld star noted that an exchange with the film’s director, known professionally as McG, also informed her decision to decline the role.

“The director said to me: ”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 a** it’s going to look like tarmac’.

“I was like: ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together’.”

In response to a comment request lodged by Vulture, Pascal said she could consider the weight of Thandie Newton’s words, but sought to rebut the allegation

“While I take her words seriously,” Pascal said, “I have no recollection of the events she describes, nor do any of her representatives who were present at that casting session.

“I’ve long considered Thandie a friend – I’m thankful that I’ve had the chance to make movies with her.

“And I hope to work with her again in the future.”

In the far-ranging interview Newton recounted to how she was “massively affected” by rampant racism and sexism within the film industry.

She has openly accused director John Duigan of “grooming” and sexually abusing when she was 16 and he was 39, and said that trauma of this experience hindered her career for years.

Newton said she also felt held back as she came to quickly realise that people would do “the same [abusive] s**t” to her, “and so I would challenge them or want to get out of it, or not want to work with people”.

More: amy pascal, charlie's angels, Film

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