Thursday 25 May 2017

Thandie Newton says historical dramas limit UK role choices for people of colour

Thandie Newton arriving for the Moet & Chandon Tribute to Cinema Event, held at Big Sky Studios in north London.
Thandie Newton arriving for the Moet & Chandon Tribute to Cinema Event, held at Big Sky Studios in north London.

By Kerri-Ann Roper

The Westworld actress has spoken candidly about the lack of roles due to the focus on historical dramas in the UK.

Thandie Newton says the desire for historical productions in the United Kingdom limits the choice of roles for people of colour.

Thandie, 44, has recently been seen on screen in HBO’s gritty science fiction thriller, Westworld, and has landed a film role in the as-yet untitled spin-off about Star Wars character Han Solo.

The London-born actress will make her debut in BBC One crime drama Line Of Duty when it returns next Sunday.

She will play Detective Chief Inspector Roz Huntley, who faces investigation by the AC-12 (anti-corruption) police unit in the fourth series of Jed Mercurio’s production.

She told The Sunday Times Magazine: “I love being here, but I can’t work, because I can’t do Downton Abbey, can’t be in Victoria, can’t be in Call The Midwife – well, I could, but I don’t want to play someone who’s being racially abused.

“I’m not interested in that, don’t want to do it … there just seems to be a desire for stuff about the Royal Family, stuff from the past, which is understandable, but it just makes it slim pickings for people of colour.”

She has been outspoken about some of her more harrowing experiences in the film industry during her career.

She recently claimed she was once groped by a co-star and told of her experience with a producer who had explained she would be topless in a scene because it would get “ratings”.

“I’m talented at what I do, but I’ve had to struggle against racism and sexism,” she told the magazine. “But I’m glad of it, in a way, that I survived and overcame.”

Thandie, who has three children with her husband, the writer Ol Parker, said her casting in Line Of Duty wasn’t solely because of her Hollywood film repertoire.

She said: ”The reason they wanted me wasn’t just, ‘Oh, she’s been in Hollywood movies,’ they wanted someone with integrity, someone who does actually stand for the empowerment of women, fighting violence against women.”

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