The role eventually went to Lucy Liu.
Actor Thandie Newton has starred in everything from Westworld and Big Mouth, to Crash and Solo: A Star Wars Story, which is just to name a few.
But in a new interview with Vulture, the 47-year-old said that after her experience with sexual abuse, she avoided “triggering environments,” refusing to work with certain people or on certain projects — including starring in 2000’s Charlie’s Angels.
“One of the biggest movies I didn’t end up doing was because the director said to me, ‘I can’t wait for this. The first shot is going to be … You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realize it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your ass it’s going to look like tarmac.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together,'” she said, before revealing the movie in question was Charlie’s Angels.
She had a meeting with the head of the studio (Sony Pictures) at the time, Amy Pascal, who told her, “Look, I don’t mean to be politically incorrect, but the character as written and you playing the role…I just feel like we’ve got to make sure that it’s believable.”
Apparently, making the character “believable” meant playing into Black stereotypes:
I was like, “What do you mean? What changes would you have to make?” She’s like, “Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated.” I’m like, “I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.” She went, “Yeah, but you’re different.” She’s like, “Maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she 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.”
“It was a big deal for me,” Thandie explained. “Vogue had called to ask us to be on the cover, the three of us. But I just couldn’t do it. I felt scared. Did I feel scared? That’s not true. Look, no one was ever going to sexually abuse me again. But I didn’t want to be put in a position where I was objectified. That just didn’t feel good.”
In a statement to Vulture, Amy said that she was “horrified to hear” Thandie’s account of their conversation. “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,” she said.
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