The 2000 movie “Charlie’s Angels” very nearly starred British actress Thandie Newton until her interactions with former studio head Amy Pascal and director McG led her to drop out.
In a lengthy profile with Vulture, Newton says after suffering alleged sexual abuse early in her career, she made it a point to avoid “triggering situations” and gave herself an escape plan when she found herself in one. She describes one such incident with the director of “Charlie’s Angels”, whose approach to the movie made her uncomfortable.
“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 a** it’s going to look like tarmac,'” she recalls. “I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together.”
“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,” she adds. “That just didn’t feel good. This is a long time ago anyway, and all those girls [Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu, Drew Barrymore] are brilliant. But if that was me now, I’d want to disrupt rather than run away. I think that’s probably the change in me.”
The “Westworld” star also had qualms with how Pascal wanted her character to be portrayed, which included upping the stereotypical attributes of an exaggerated “Black character”.
“Then the head of the studio — I had a meeting with her, and she said, ‘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,'” says Newton. “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.'”
The actress alleges Pascal was “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. That’s not really a surprise. is it? Let’s face it: I didn’t do the movie as a result,” she adds. The part eventually became Liu’s role.
Vulture reached out to Pascal for comment who said she was “horrified to hear” Newton’s claims, adding, “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.”
Pascal was fired from Sony Pictures in 2015 after the company’s emails were hacked and leaked publicly, including one from Pascal with racist remarks about U.S. President Barack Obama.