“One person will read this and it will stop them getting sexually abused by a director,” said Thandie Newton, soon to be seen in HBO's Westworld. Near the start of her career she had a terrifying experience and felt the repercussions long after. Newton is now speaking out about it again in the hopes her experience can help someone else avoid the same.
Speaking with W Magazine, Newton recounts the horrific event. She doesn't specify who or what it was for.
“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. 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,” she recalled, without naming the filmmaker.
Years later, at a film festival, a producer told her drunkenly, “”Oh, Thandie, I”ve seen you recently!” And he lurched away looking really shocked that he”d said that.” Her husband approached the man for some clarification. “It turns out 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.
It's bad enough Newton was abused by the director in the first place but to then have it rubbed in her face later in the worst way possible is galling. Hollywood already treats women as a commodity on a daily basis but to have someone in a position of power take advantage and knowing no one would dare speak up about it, is something we should all be horrified by.
“I was so so naïve when I started out and I realize now that we have to prepare our kids- I”ve got two beautiful daughters, one is 16 one is 11,” Newton told them. “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. 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.”
No one wanting to talk about it is exactly the reason people keep thinking this kind of behavior is OK. Or even if they know it's wrong, are able to get away with it anyway. I hope Newton's words encourage others to speak up when they see something like this happening. For her part, she hopes the “existential questions” raised by Westworld will help foster discussions.