'Westworld' star Thandie Newton reveals racist encounter with Amy Pascal

07:33 PM Jul 08, 2020 | PTI
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Los Angeles: Actor Thandie Newton has opened up about the harassment she faced from Hollywood executives and directors in her career, including a racist encounter with former Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal.

In a revealing interview with Vulture, the actor spoke about the trauma she faced at the age of 16 when she was allegedly groomed and sexually abused by director John Duigan while working on the 1991 movie "Flirting" when he was 39.

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The actor said she felt re-trumatised when the press referred it as an affair. "If someone brought it up - and of course they're going to bring it up in a f-ing interview, man - if they spoke about it in a way that's not sympathetic or they called it an affair, it was insult to injury. It's like re-abuse," Newton said.

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"I think the reason I talked about it a lot, too, is I'm trying to find someone who understands. I'm looking for help. It's so fucking obvious to me. What is the point if we don't expose what needs to be exposed?" Newton said the experience shaped her future choices, including the decision to turn down Sony Pictures' "Charlie's Angels" remake because the director wanted to focus on her body in the opening scene.

Then, Newton met with Pascal who told her the movie would have to make her character believable as a college-educated woman. Pascal then suggested that there could be a scene in a bar where Newton's character "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. That's not really a surprise, is it? Let's face it: I didn't do the movie as a result," Newton told Vulture.

Pascal, who was fired in 2015 after an email hack of Sony revealed several problematic messages including her interactions with producer Scott Rudin debating whether President Barack Obama's favourite films were those with largely Black casts such as "Django Unchained", told the publication that she did not recall the conversation the actor had referred to in their interview.

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

"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 same interview, Newton said she has a little black book but those names will be revealed only after she is dead.

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