Westworld star Thandie Newton has revealed that she turned down a role in 2000 film Charlie’s Angels after former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairperson Amy Pascal “reeled off” racist stereotypes in a meeting.
Speaking to Vulture, the award-winning actress said that she went to speak to Pascal, who was the head of Sony at the time, after feeling “objectified” by director Joseph McGinty ‘McG’ Nichol’s plans for her character.
“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 show is going to be…You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realise it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your ass it’s going to look like tarmac,'” she said.
“I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together.'”
Newton then went on to describe how Pascal suggested changes needed to be made to make Newton being cast as a university-educated character “believable”.
“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.’ That was Amy Pascal,” she added.
“That’s not really a surprise, it it? Let’s face it: I didn’t do the movie as a result.”
Newton said that she also turned down a Vogue cover with two of the film’s stars as a result. “I didn’t want to be put in a position where I was objectified. I just didn’t feel good. This is a long time ago anyway, and all those girls are brilliant. But if that was me now, I’d want to disrupt rather than run away.”
According to Newton, Lucy Liu was cast in her role as Alex Munday, starring alongside Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Bill Murray.
Pascal, who stepped down from her role at Sony in 2014 after leaked emails showed her joking about then-President Barack Obama preferring films with Black casts, told Vulture she was “horrified to hear” Newton’s description of their meeting.
“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 in a statement, adding, “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.”
RadioTimes.com has contacted Pascal for comment.
British actress Newton is best known for her roles in Westworld, for which she won an Emmy Award and Line of Duty as well as films W., Solo: A Star Wars Story and The Pursuit of Happiness.