English actress Thandie Newton has opened about the sexual harassment she endured as a young actress navigating her way through the cutthroat business of acting. In a new interview with W Magazine, Newton recalled how, when she was 18 years old, a director, whom she didn’t name, sexually harassed her during an audition and asked her to do inappropriate things on camera.
“A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my t**s and think about the guy making love to me in the scene,” she said. “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.”
People reports that Thandie also revealed how years later at a film festival, a drunk producer approached her and said, “I’ve seen you recently.” He then walked away, giving no further explanation. Newton was with her husband and he followed the producer and asked him to explain his comments. The couple learned “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.
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The daughter of a Zimbabwean and an English laboratory technician and artist, 43-year-old Thandie has appeared in several British and American films, including The Pursuit of Happyness, Mission: Impossible II, and Crash, for which she received a number of awards, including a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. In 2014, PETA named Newton the “Sexiest Vegan” in the U.K.
This isn’t the first time Thandie has spoken out about being a victim of sexist behavior. In 2013, she told CNN that the “casting couch” incident left her feeling like it was “the kinds of things I was expected to do in auditions.” Watch the interview via the video below. The mother of three said she continues to share the story so that it may help prepare young aspiring actors for the dark side of the entertainment business.
“I was so so naïve when I started out and I realize now that we have to prepare our kids,” Newton said.
Glamour notes how Thandie is one of several actors who have been brave enough to speak out against sexual abuse and sexism in Hollywood. At a Cannes panel audience last month, Chloë Sevigny spoke about three, unnamed A-list directors who crossed the line. Meanwhile, Elijah Wood and Corey Feldman have also been vocal about being victims of child sex abuse in Hollywood.
“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,” Newton continued in the W interview. “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.”
Newton married English writer, director, and producer Ol Parker in 1998. Their daughters Ripley (born in 2000) and Nico (born in 2004) were named after the character Ellen Ripley in the Alien films and the late German singer Nico. The couple also have a son named Booker Jombe (born in 2014), and Newton had home births with all three of her children.
Thandie Newton will star next in the upcoming HBO series Westworld, set to premiere in October. The series is “inspired by the 1973 film of the same title written by Michael Crichton about a futuristic theme park populated by artificial beings,” per IMDb. Check out the teaser trailer below.
[Photo by Evan Agostini/AP Images]