Interview: Thandie Newton

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Newton: "And, to be honest, the main thing I wanted to experience was to be around a craftsman like Eddie, a genius, to be in the presence of someone creating something memorable. And I just knew from reading it that it was going to be memorable."

Interview: Thandie Newton

By Kam Williams

Thandiwe Newton was born in London on November 6, 1972 to a mother from Zimbabwe and British father. En route to fame and fortune, the 5’2� cutie pie would remove a “w� and a syllable from her name, which means “beloved.� This is ironic because she later played the title character in the screen adaptation of the Toni Morrison novel “Beloved.�

But Thandie is probably now best known for her work in Crash, where she played a woman violated right in front of her husband by a crude cop during a profile stop. Although she wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, she won a British Academy Award for that nonpareil performance. Also on her resume’ are memorable outings in Besieged, The Trouble with Charlie, Mission: Impossible II, The Chronicles of Riddick, and as Sally Hemmings in Jefferson in Paris. Recently, she appeared opposite Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness. Here, Thandie talks about working opposite Eddie Murhphy in Norbit.


BSN:
What interested in playing Kate?
TN: After all these years, here was something that just pushed things a bit more. I also thought it was an opportunity to really explore character. And despite the fact that in many ways Kate is the straight man of the film, there were still moments of fun and silliness that I could really enjoy. And, to be honest, the main thing I wanted to experience was to be around a craftsman like Eddie, a genius, to be in the presence of someone creating something memorable. And I just knew from reading it that it was going to be memorable.


BSN:
What’s it like working with Eddie?
TN: You bust out with laughter and there’s romance, and it’s smart, and makes you kind of think about stuff, but not so much so that you’re twisting your brain. Everybody loves Eddie Murphy. Everybody appreciates what he does and wants to see him enjoying what he’s doing. And he’s enjoying what he’s doing and he’s doing something really special. I mean, I didn’t know that this was going to be an opportunity for that, to be around someone creating something special. It’s been a privilege.


BSN:
How do you generate chemistry with a character like Norbit?
TN: What the character Norbit is putting out there is basic human kindness, and it’s got to be the most attractive, beautiful quality. So, for me as an actress, and a person defining this character, to genuinely feel that Kate would genuinely fall in love with Norbit is so exciting for me actually. Because even though I’m doing this film which relies heavily on suspending your disbelief, and is a fantasy, I always love to find the truth in things. And there is in this, and it’s such a welcome surprise.


BSN:
What did you think of the rest of the cast?
TN: Cuba Gooding, Jr., I was so excited to be working with him, and to be playing this couple with him, because he brings so much more complexity to it. His comic timing is so good, and he’s such a cool guy. And every single character in the film, no matter how small, is played by someone who just fills it to its maximum. The movie has just drawn really strong quality performers together. And I really feel like it’s a celebration of the work of Eddie Murphy. Everybody says the same thing. We’re all bowing down to a great man, and a great work. I love this film because it seems to bring so many of the qualities that make him great together.


BSN:
What did you think of the makeup job they did on Eddie?
TN: The makeup is so advanced now that it really is real! So, when Eddie walks on as Rasputia or as Mr. Wong, it’s fascinating.

 



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