Westworld’s Thandie Newton: TV is better if you don’t binge watch

The Westworld and Star Wars star is a documentary nerd at heart, she tells Radio Times


What’s the view from your sofa?


We watch television in a lovely little snug area at our home in London. The light’s quite low and we have a big, comfy sofa and bean bags. We have a living room up the hall, but it rarely gets used. It ends up being the place where the dog pees.

Is the TV huge?

It takes up half the wall but some of the speakers are broken – we’ve never got around to replacing them because that’s the way we are in our house.

What have you seen recently?

I used to watch lots of films, but that’s happening less nowadays. I love to watch documentaries. That’s where I get my pleasure. I’m a documentary nerd!

What sort of documentaries do you enjoy?

I can talk for hours about documentaries – how much time do you have? I watched If a Tree Falls: a Story of the Earth Liberation Front with my 17-year-old daughter [Ripley] recently, because she was doing a report on fracking. It’s an incredible documentary featuring lots of environmentalists who are trying to save trees, but nobody is listening to them. It’s heartwrenching. Another favourite of mine is Project Nim, which is about a chimpanzee called Nim – but I can barely talk about that without crying. All of Werner Herzog’s documentaries are astonishing, too.

How much television did you watch as a child?

I can remember watching Dallas with my mum every Wednesday night. It was the only time me and my mum had girl time together. I think I was probably too young for it, but my mum would let me watch it anyway.

Can you recall who shot JR?

To be honest, I didn’t really understand JR and his philandering, or Sue Ellen. Why was she always drunk? I can clearly remember Pam Ewing with her beautiful hair. And Bobby Ewing, of course – what a heart-throb! We would tune in every Wednesday without fail. Back then, there were only four channels and you had to wait a week for the next episode. There was no binge watching.

Are you a fan of bingeing?

No. I think it’s such a shame that you can watch a whole series in a day. There’s something gorgeous about having to wait. Delayed gratification is beautiful. It’s not just about having to wait. I love the idea that you spend the entire week thinking, examining and reflecting on what happened. Bingeing is like fast food. It’s not needed, but I guess this is the fast-food generation. Bingeing is not for me.

As well as Westworld, you’re also appearing in the new Star Wars movie, Solo: a Star Wars Story. Are you a sci-fi nerd at heart?

Sci-fi really captures people’s attention like nothing else, but the fans are absolutely bonkers. I took my four-year-old [Booker] to a park in Los Angeles last year, but I didn’t realise there was a huge Star Wars convention taking place up the road. All these grown-up men dressed as Stormtroopers were riding around on a kids’ train in the park. It was the most surreal sight.

What can you tell us about your Star Wars character?


I’m the first woman of colour to have a prominent role in the Star Wars legacy. There have been others with one line and Lupita Nyong’o was a computer-generated character [in The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi], but you didn’t get to see the colour of her skin. I’m the first. I’m going to have a toy and everything. It’s exciting, but that’s all I can say. It is a big deal.

Season two of Westworld begins on Monday 22nd April at 2am on Sky Atlantic, with a repeat at 9pm on Monday. The show will also be available on NOW TV