Thandie Newton: I Was Abused By Director as a Teen
British actress Thandie Newton, now 40, has had a long and varied career from Mission: Impossible II and The Pursuit of Happyness to Crash, Beloved, W., and For Colored Girls.
But she talked to CNN International about a horrific casting couch experience she had when she was a teenager, looking for her big acting break. According to The Daily Mail, the actress — who is now a married mother of two — is speaking out as part of the One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women.
"When I was a 16 year old fresh from boarding school going out in, you know, the casting couch, I was definitely objectified to an extreme,” Thandie said. “The way I was made to feel. The way I was exploited and the kind of role and the kinds of things I was expected to do in auditions." The journalist asked, "So you were abused as a 16-year-old?" She replied, "Yes." She described a scene that happened later, when she was 18, at a screen test.
"There were two other people in the room — the director and the casting director, who was a woman,” Thandie continued. “The director asked me to sit with my legs apart – the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt — to put my leg over the arm of the chair. Before I started my dialogue, [I was told to] think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person. I was thinking 'this is so strange, why would I need to do that?' But this is the director, there is the casting director, [it] must be normal."
She figured it was in a protected environment and there were boundaries. But three years later, she discovered the video was being shown by the director to others in the industry. "It turned out the director... used to show that video late at night to interested parties at his house — a video of me touching myself with a camera up my skirt." Repulsive. That poor girl.
However, Thandie didn't name the director or say if he was still working in the industry. Hopefully she did report him to someone, since that's the point of stopping this kind of abuse. It's never the victim's fault, but abuse can only stop when the perpetrators are brought to light. Why protect him or the people he was showing this video to?