Thandie Newton on conviction and her role in TV hit Westworld

Thandie Newton wears a Roksanda dress and Lauren Rubinski bracelet. Photographed by Liz Collins for Porter. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via NET-A-PORTER.COM.

Actor Thandie Newton talks to NET-A-PORTER’s digital title, PORTER, about passing the torch to her daughter, how the third season of Westworld is a “gift” and about standing up for what she believes in: “We need to make sure that the public have their say. We have to hear them. We have to keep it going. If it does seem cosmetic, we have to then push that bit harder.”

Newton’s varied work has touched audiences in a multitude of ways, from her role as Christine in Crash (2004), for which she received a BAFTA, to more recently with her standout depiction of sentient android Maeve in Westworld, a part she has played since 2016: “It’s the best role. The perspective she has [as a robot] and what that, as an audience, allows us to consider… What makes her strong are the things she’s copied or learnt from a human being. She’s cherry-picked the things she wants to keep.”

Newton notes how happy she is that the majority of the episodes in season three are directed by women: “It’s really great this season. We have such good directors. We have eight episodes and five are directed by women. I’ve worked with so many women over the past 12 months.”

Newton says of the third eagerly anticipated season, premiering on HBO on March 15, with Aaron Paul, Lena Waithe, Vincent Cassel and Kid Cudi joining the cast, amongst others: “This season was such a gift for everybody.”

Thandie Newton wears a dress by Giambattista Valli. Photographed by Liz Collins for Porter. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via NET-A-PORTER.COM.

In 2012, Newton launched ThandieKay with friend and makeup artist Kay Montano, setting out to create a community that represented and celebrated women of color: “I feel like we made our imprint. Apart from anything, it brought a lot of people together. People in this country who didn’t realise we’re all here.”

Newton reflects on the progress she has witnessed throughout the course of her career: “Things just simply won’t manifest that quickly. I guess the reason my frustration is tempered is because for 30 years I’ve watched and agitated; I’ve disrupted.”

Newton’s next project will be Reminiscence, where she works again with Lisa Joy, the co-creator of Westworld. In the sci-fi thriller, Newton plays lead Hugh Jackman’s best friend: “Hugh Jackman is the loveliest man. He is kind, present, a devoted family man. Just a great guy.”

Reminiscence also offered the opportunity for Newton to work alongside her 15-year-old daughter Nico, who debuted on the big screen in the live-action remake of Dumbo last year. “It was like passing the torch on. I hope she doesn’t have to run the sprints I had to run, though. I know she won’t have to. She’ll run different sprints. She’s amazing.”

Newton shares her thoughts on the topic of change and the amount of progress that has been made throughout her career: “When I look at the film industry and the entertainment industry in general from year to year, [I see] an explosion of talent.”

Despite there being much to fight against and for, Newton is optimistic about the future: “We’re seeing beautiful things happen in the world that are completely counter to the shi**y things. People are so tender. All the negative sides of being terrified… on the flip side, look at our creativity, our courage. We have to keep looking at those things. Because a lot of the time, it’s where we choose to look.”

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

Thandie Newton on being of the board of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against all women and girls, standing in solidarity with survivors, not resting until the violence stops: “My mental health would certainly be a lot worse if I didn’t do it. My work and good people are the best medicine.”

Thandie Newton on ThandieKay, the community that represents and celebrates women of color that she set up with friend and makeup artist Kay Montano: “I needed my work to serve me a bit more and to be more in line with the other stuff that I do, which is so much more compelling to me. Much more rewarding and enriching.”

Thandie Newton on making an impact with ThandieKay: “I feel like we made our imprint. Apart from anything, it brought a lot of people together. People in this country who didn’t realise we’re all here.”

Thandie Newton on the latest season of Westworld: “It’s a natural evolution from where we were,” she says animatedly. “It just gets richer and richer because the writers have known what they’re going to do for five seasons. I don’t know what happens from episode to episode.”

Thandie Newton on the latest season of Westworld being a gift: “This season was such a gift for everybody. I’m so admiring of everyone involved. We have such earnest respect for each other. We’ve grown as people.”

Thandie Newton on her character Maeve in Westworld, who has been on a journey from a state of unknowing to fierce self-possession and power: “It’s the best role. The perspective she has [as a robot] and what that, as an audience, allows us to consider… What makes her strong are the things she’s copied or learnt from a human being. She’s cherry-picked the things she wants to keep.”

Thandie Newton on the female directors on this season of Westworld: “It’s really great this season. We have such good directors. We have eight episodes and five are directed by women. I’ve worked with so many women over the past 12 months.”

Thandie Newton on whether the shift in media is superficial: “Things just simply won’t manifest that quickly. I guess the reason my frustration is tempered is because for 30 years I’ve watched and agitated; I’ve disrupted.”

Thandie Newton on Reminiscence which gave her the opportunity to work alongside her 15-year-old daughter Nico, who debuted on the big screen in the live-action remake of Dumbo last year: “It was like passing the torch on. I hope she doesn’t have to run the sprints I had to run, though. I know she won’t have to. She’ll run different sprints. She’s amazing.”

Thandie Newton on Hugh Jackman: “Hugh Jackman is the loveliest man. He is kind, present, a devoted family man. Just a great guy.”

Thandie Newton wears Balenciaga. Photographed by Liz Collins for Porter. All items can be purchased straight from the magazine pages via NET-A-PORTER.COM.

Thandie Newton on the explosion of talent in the film industry: “When I look at the film industry and the entertainment industry in general from year to year, [I see] an explosion of talent.”

Thandie Newton on the change she has witnessed in the industry, but the need to pushing harder still: “The change is huge. We need to make sure that the public have their say. We have to hear them. We have to keep it going. If it does seem cosmetic, we have to then push that bit harder.”

Thandie Newton on being optimistic about the future, and looking at the positives of humanity: We’re seeing beautiful things happen in the world that are completely counter to the shi**y things. People are so tender. All the negative sides of being terrified… on the flip side, look at our creativity, our courage. We have to keep looking at those things. Because a lot of the time, it’s where we choose to look.”

To see the full interview, head to PORTER or download the NET-A-PORTER app for iPhone, iPad and Android

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