Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mulberry event London 30th january 2007

The Launch of Mulberry for Giles held at Harvey NicholsLondon, England - 30.1.07

Friday, January 26, 2007

You magazine interview 7th January 2007

Fine and Thandie
Last updated at 22:44pm on 6th January 2007

BAFTA winner: But Thandie puts her family first
After winning a Bafta last year, actress Thandie Newton is much in demand. But, as she reveals to Nancy Mills, Newton’s first law for a happy life is to put family first.
This is one of those schizophrenic days for Thandie Newton...
Up at dawn to get her six-year-old daughter Ripley ready for school, she happily worked her way through a series of mummy activities —feeding the neighbourhood cat, taking younger daughter Nico on a play-date, making lunch, overseeing Nico’s nap, then picking up Ripley and a friend from school.
She could be any mum, on any street, dealing with the minutiae of daily life. But she isn’t.
She won a 2006 BAFTA for her searing performance in “Crash”, and after our interview, as her writer/director husband, Ol Parker, takes over child care responsibilities for the evening, Thandie will transform herself into movie star mode to attend a Vogue magazine party at London’s Serpentine Gallery.
This once insecure and sometimes-fragile actress has now blossomed into a confident, radiant beauty. “I used to hate going to parties because I had pride,” she admits.
“I didn’t want to have to go talk to someone just to make a new contact. But now I’m very aware of ‘the game’ and I can do it. So tonight will be 50 per cent work and 50 per cent seeing friends.”
It may have taken half her life in front of cameras, a supportive husband, two children and that BAFTA win, but Thandie has now grown into herself.
She credits the teachings of Buddhist nun and author Pema Chodron (“When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times,” “Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living”) with shaping her current thinking.
“It’s a matter of accepting what is,” she says. “Pregnancy and childbirth is where I learned to surrender and accept that what will be will be.
"It’s not a matter of confidence: confidence has got to be active. This is the opposite. It’s being interested in each moment and not thinking that far ahead.
"My goal is not to be super-happy but to appreciate what I have right now. The saddest thing would be always looking ahead and needing more.
“For me, success is working this year, being comfortable and having time with my husband and my children. Maybe if I’d had fame earlier, it could have become an addiction."
"But I don’t have expectations. When I got the BAFTA Award, it was so not expected or needed.
"I had come to a peaceful acceptance of the way things are, and I’d stopped giving myself a hard time about not being this or that. I’m not immune to feeling anxiety and insecurity," she adds, "but I can pop myself out of it.”
At 34, Thandie has starred opposite some of Hollywood’s biggest names: Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible II," Nick Nolte in "Jefferson in Paris," Oprah Winfrey in "Beloved" and, next spring, Eddie Murphy in the comedy "Norbit".
But the movie that means the most to her right now is “The Pursuit of Happyness”.
Based on the true story of a family man struggling to get by, the film stars Will Smith, with Thandie as his wife, Linda, a depressed, overworked laundress.
When Will’s character can’t bring in enough money to help pay the bills, she leaves him and their five-year-old son to try to make a better life for herself.
For Thandie, it was important that audiences understand Linda.
“Depending on how the scenes are played, she could be an awful, one-dimensional bitch,” she says, “but I wanted to express the deep well of sadness inside her.
"One thing I’ve always loved about acting is what you can do without words, what you can do with your body, what you can do with stillness.
"Linda is an unsympathetic character,” she admits, “but when I read the script I felt so much sympathy for her. Having to leave your child is like suicide. She must have been so distraught and damaged.”
Thandie didn’t have to look far to get into character, because she experienced her own trauma in being without her elder daughter for three weeks during filming.
“Ripley was just starting her first proper school,” she says, “and I didn’t want her to feel like an outsider by leaving and coming back again. Some kids like to be gypsies - Ripley’s not one of them.
"So she stayed with her father, and I went to San Francisco just with Nico, whom I was still nursing.”
But the actress did not expect such a visceral reaction to leaving her daughter behind.
“I just shut down,” she says. “I had to numb what made me human. So I did experience some of what my character felt. I won’t leave Ripley behind again.”
Motherhood has given her a focus that may have been missing during her early years of fame.
When director John Duigan came to the Art Education School (her North London boarding school) looking for newcomers to appear in his movie “Flirting,” she was a sixteen-year-old dance student sidelined by an injury.
Duigin, then in his early forties, chose her for the lead and took her to Australia to shoot the film alongside then-unknowns Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts. He started an affair with her, and Thandie followed him to Hollywood.
A few years later she starred in his film “The Journey of August King”, but the relationship eventually ended.
Thandie has bad memories of the experience.
“It was an exploitative situation,” she says. “With an age difference like that, huge games were being played with power. But I grew up really fast. It afforded me wisdom I wouldn’t have had, no matter how painful it was at the time.”
To get away from Hollywood, she came back to England and took a degree in anthropology at Cambridge.
She continued to act when roles presented themselves and eventually received international attention as Cruise’s co-star in “Mission: Impossible II”.
Superstardom then beckoned with the offer to be a Charlie’s Angel alongside Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz.
But in the end, Thandie declined because she feared it would affect her relationship with her husband. Instead, she got pregnant.
“You can have plans for yourself,” she says. “But if you’ve got a family, all plans are off. I never had that need to be a huge movie star.
"I realised that when ‘Charlie’s Angels’ came up. I realised there are two ways to be a movie star. You can work your way up. Or you can go to the right parties and have a rocking boyfriend.
"Turning down ‘Charlie’s Angels’ came out of the confidence that I’d be okay, that I’d always work. I think I’m a good actor, and there’s always work for good actors.”
Instead of “Charlie’s Angels”, she made a small film, “It Was an Accident”, written by her husband.
The couple met ten years ago on the set of “In Your Dreams”, a BBC film he also wrote, and they married a year later. Now, every career decision is based on how it will affect her family.
“My first priority is my elder daughter’s well-being,” Thandie says. “Very often if I’m feeling at my most complete and satisfied, that will make her feel secure.
"Or I might need to work because we’ll need the money next year or we won’t be able to afford her guitar lessons.”
She predicts that her husband’s work schedule will soon control the family dynamic. “Ol just directed a movie (‘Imagine Me and You’),” she says, “and he has two more possible movies and maybe something for TV. Our lives will be determined by his career now.
"It’s tricky and a constant re-evaluation. The main thing is that Ol and I want the same thing -to be secure as a family, for the kids to feel protected. There’s nothing worse than feeling I’m not doing right for my children.”
Will she have more? “Who knows,” she hedges. “It’s not that I think we will, but I can’t imagine not having another child. About one month after Ripley was born, I had an incredible need to be pregnant again.
"The same thing happened with Nico. It’s like an ache - a need to love. When you become a mother, it cracks you open.
"You have such sensitivity to nurturing, but I think that urge can be satisfied by helping other people, caring for other people or even fostering children."
Her yearning for a strong family life could come from her own childhood. She spent her first five years in Zambia, where her British father had met her Zimbabwean mother, a nurse.
Then the family moved to Cornwall, where Thandie’s grandparents owned an antiques business.
“It’s a struggle to be an African person in a non-African country,” she says about her mum’s adjustment to England.
“I think she had to make so much more effort to fulfill her life in the way she deserves. I haven’t had to put that much energy into establishing my dignity. I have the luxury of being second generation.”
Thandie has always insisted that she never experienced racism as a child. “I might have heard some comments,” she says, “but they didn’t strike me as racist. Racism is not fundamental in children. It’s created.
"But as an adult I can see how racism seeped into my subconscious: for a long time I felt the reason that people were looking at me funny in Hollywood was because I was black, when really they were thinking, ‘What the hell is this teenager doing with this filthy old bloke?’”
Now, as a parent, she is determined to provide her children with as much love and security as possible. Ripley is already thinking about wanting to be an actor, and Thandie says, “That would be cool. There are lots of different ways people get into acting. Some actors are technicians and are very secure within themselves.
"Others have a neediness that seeks validation, and as a result you’re in the worst place to be rejected. I’d like to think that Ripley is so loved that she’d want to be the technician – that she wouldn’t need acting to feel loved.”
Did she? “I’m reticent to say I was fragile,” Thandie says. “It’s not something to be ashamed of, but I become very uneasy because it’s a comment on my childhood. My parents did an amazing job, considering the restraints and difficulties.
"I spent a long time being judgmental, but lots of things have happened recently that make me appreciate how much the good things, strengths and kindnesses meant.
“Ripley will be pissed off for different things. ‘You were there too much. Be gone!’ I’ll be ready for it, and I’ll be ready to sign her up for therapy.” She laughs. “We can have lunch after her sessions.”
The Pursuit of Happyness opens on 12 January

Friday, January 19, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Independent interview 12th January 2007

Thandie Newton's discovery of gaiety
She used to feel she wasn't worthy, but now Thandie Newton has learned to enjoy life and stardom.
By Lesley O'Toole
Published: 12 January 2007
Ten years ago, Thandie Newton, then 24, tried to hide from the husband and wife team of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith in a hotel lift. She was in Philadelphia, filming Oprah Winfrey's pet project, the movie adaptation of Toni Morrison's novel Beloved . Newton had just had a massage, and felt she didn't look her best in an oversized hotel dressing gown and slippers. "My face was all shiny from the oil," she recalls, "and in those days I was kind of shy and took myself a lot more seriously than I do now. I was like, 'I'm not worthy', so I'll just disappear, even though there are only three of us in the lift."
Today, Newton is in a ballroom at New York's Waldorf Astoria Hotel to discuss her role opposite Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness. She is wearing cartoonishly high Fendi heels and a flirty, navy blue, Marni cocktail dress. Her hair is pulled back and piled high. Looking impossibly glamorous, nothing about the actress says "serious".
Newton was born in 1972 in London to an Englishman and a Zimbabwian mother (a Shona Princess, according to the actress), spending her childhood between her mother's homeland and Penzance, in Cornwall. Since graduating from Downing College, Cambridge, Newton has more often than not undertaken serious acting work: she clearly enjoys opportunities to dig deep in her work.
But, having been accosted by a black American angry at her participation in 2004's vivid ensemble piece about racial tensions in post-9/11 Los Angeles, Crash (for which she won a Bafta), Newton thought long and hard about whether to take on the role of the unsympathetic Linda in The Pursuit of Happyness. Her character, the embittered wife of Smith's failed-salesman-turned-aspiring stockbroker Chris Gardner, performs an act unconscionable for a parent. "You have to think about it as a career move," she admits. "But when I read Linda I did think, 'Oh God, another hateful person.'"
Seeing Newton as she looks in real life - drop-dead gorgeous - points up the quality of her performance. Her plan to be "unrecognisably me" has succeeded, assuredly, with her portrayal of a woman lost in her own torpor. "I wanted to be the first person to feel compassion for Linda. I think there's a terrible habit in our society of trying to erase people who have done bad things. We're all made up of these dark and light shades. I know there are things I regret hugely and they were motivated by unhappiness, fear, insecurity, being young and vulnerable. Now I feel validated, entitled, confident." As well she might. The Pursuit of Happyness is a hit, having opened at number one at the US box office.
Had it not been a formidable season for supporting female performances, Newton could well have emulated Will Smith's Screen Actors' Guild and Golden Globes nominations as Best Actor with a few of her own. But she is thrilled for Smith and hopes to be a fixture on the promotional circuit. "It's going to be so exciting," she enthuses, as if Crash's success has got her in the mood for a little more glitz and recognition.
She is still, after all, letting her hair down, following the movie with two comedies. In Norbit, she is the "other woman" opposite Eddie Murphy, a challenge, given that Murphy also plays her rival for his own heart. And then, "I just didn't want to work after Norbit. I wanted to go home and hang out but Run, Fat Boy, Run was shooting in London, which is very rare, and I love Simon Pegg. David Schwimmer [the director] is a really nice guy, and it wasn't that long a shoot, so I decided to go along with that. I'm so glad because I love that film so much. And Simon Pegg is such a sweet person.I want to be his and his wife Maureen's kid. They haven't had any yet and I'm like, 'Can I be one?'"
Her Bafta award may have something to do with her newly confident, validated, and undeniably playful demeanour And if Newton doesn't feel underrated, then perhaps she should. She has, after all, earned kudos in many films, from Flirting (her 1991 debut), Merchant-Ivory's Jefferson in Paris (opposite Nick Nolte), Gridlock'd, Besieged, and Beloved, to Mission: Impossible II. But she has never been an A-list movie star, though eminently overqualified for the position. Rather, she's happy as a wife and mother, and isn't about to let best time of her career make her lose sight of that.
She is fortunate that her director husband Ol Parker (they married in 1998) is often able to travel to locations with their daughters, Ripley and Nico. This time around, for example, Newton did not require massages to pummel Linda out of her body the way she had the character of Beloved. Children - hers and Will Smith's - took care of that. Newton's refuge from Linda's claustrophobic world were "playdates" with her daughter Ripley, seven-year-old Jaden Smith, who plays Linda and Chris's son, and his sister, Willow.
"I'd take them to the park, or we would go around San Francisco or swimming at the hotel. I got to know Jaden as one of my kids' friends," she says. Newton has no interest in her daughters following her into acting. "No way. No, no, no. Nico doesn't have any concept of what's going on, but Ripley loves coming to my little house on wheels - as we call my trailer. It's always stocked up with stuff for her - Quavers, KitKats, Bedknobs and Broomsticks on DVD - and she loves to hang out there. She feels comfortable. But anything else, no. She's got stuff to do. It's cool for Jaden - he's home-schooled so they can move around. Ripley's not. She loves her school. She's got things to do. And she doesn't want to come with me and sit around for hours on end while they set up the lights."
Not that she says that acting can't be fulfilling. "I worked harder on five or six scenes in The Pursuit of Happyness than I did on the other two films combined. It was fun doing the comedy but it's not as satisfying, partly because, as the girl in the comedy, you're usually the straight woman to give them all time to flutter round. I did get to have some more comedic moments in Run, Fat Boy, Run, but I still felt like I was on hiatus from acting.Simon is the comedian, and he was the one really challenged by the movie. The same with Norbit. I got to support. [But] Eddie's people have been wanting me to make Eddie Murphy films for a long time. He goes through every black actress there is."
She has a point - even Smith, one of the world's most bankable stars, appears mostly opposite black or Latino women. He once confided to me that he'd love to make a romantic comedy with Cameron Diaz but feared that his audience wouldn't accept it. "It's a shame, but it is what it is," laments Newton. "I think if it was done in the right way, where race wouldn't be an issue, it would be great. But you can't bend people's minds too quickly. "
For now, the congested American awards circuit beckons , starting with Monday's Golden Globes. And then? "I'll take that break! I'll see what comes along - but it's nice not to feel pressure. I'm blessed."
The 'Pursuit of Happyness' is on general release; 'Norbit' opens on 9 March

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Family photo

Charity Premiere of The Pursuit of Happyness - LondonThandie Newton and her husband Oliver Parker, with her parents Nick and Nyasha arrive for a drinks reception preceeding the Charity Premiere of The Pursuit of Happyness, at the Washington Hotel in central London.

metro interview

60 SECONDS: Thandie NewtonBY SCOTT TENORMAN - Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Actress Thandie Newton was born to a Zimbabwean mother and British father and grew up in Cornwall. She was 16 when she made her first film, Flirting, and has since had success in Mission: Impossible II and Crash, where she played mouthy Christine Thayer. She plays opposite Will Smith in her latest movie, The Pursuit Of Happyness, released nationwide on Friday.
You play another unlikeable character in The Pursuit Of Happyness. Why do it?Because it’s a really good film. I saw it for the first time recently and I was so alarmed by finally seeing my performance in relation to the rest of the movie. It was the same with Crash. I came in isolation and did my bits really quickly, one after the other. It really wasn’t my character’s story but I was worried about her being demonised. I said to the director: ‘I don’t know if I can do this.’
Will Smith comes across as a super-nice guy. Is he?I didn’t get to know him. Working with him was special, even though part of me was pretty bummed out because I had to shout at him in all my scenes. At the end of the day, when we’d been horrible to each other, it was very hard to then just be sweet and nice.
Had you met Will before?No but there was one time I could have met him. I was working on the [1998] film Beloved in Philadelphia. That role kind of knocked me about and I found it hard to let it go. I’d had a massage in the hotel and got into the lift. I looked an absolute state and in those days I was shy. Will and [his wife] Jada got into the lift on their way up to see Oprah Winfrey in the penthouse. I knew who they were and they probably knew who I was. But I just pretended they weren’t there. I think I closed my eyes, pretending I was in a post-massage reverie. I’ve had shame flashes about it ever since.
Don’t you famous actors say ‘hi’ to each other automatically?It’s funny you say that. The other night I went to this pasta place in New York and George Clooney walked in. It was as though we were old friends. I’d never met him before. But he is the most charming, lovely man, a complete sweetheart. He even bought me and my girlfriend dinner.
Is it true that people can’t differentiate between the real you and your Crash character?Totally. Crash was very controversial and people got really angry. Black men in particular have a problem with that role. There was one guy recently at the Black Entertainment Television Awards in the US and he said: ‘You’re her, aren’t you?’ I knew he meant Crash. He said: ‘I know you’re an actress and everything but if you’d just shut up, none of the sh*t in the film would have happened.’
Sometimes you see people and think: 'Well, how much time can they really spend with their kids?'
Are you supposed to be flattered that he thought your character was a real person?People do say that. But playing another role like that in The Pursuit Of Happyness was an issue. Just because I get it and I feel sympathy and compassion for my character, it doesn’t mean everyone else does. I wondered whether I could play another unsympathetic role but knew I had the Eddie Murphy film Norbit coming up.
What was Eddie like?He’s very sweet. Very quiet. Quite shy on set. We had nice times. We ended up talking about this and that. We’re both parents. And we giggled. He found my English background very funny. And if I’m in the presence of someone who’s either very shy or needs to be brought out of their shell, I just become an absolute idiot. The English toilet humour just whips around the place. Whatever it takes to break the ice.
You have another film coming out this year, Run, Fat Boy, Run. Is it a good time to be you?It is a good time but now I want to have a break.
The Pursuit Of Happyness is about a man who keeps going despite horrendous obstacles. What keeps you strong-willed?Being a mum.
Your friend Cate Blanchett said you would say that.She and I are similar in that we’re able to take our careers very seriously but also it’s absolutely not a question that the kids come first. Sometimes you see people and you think: ‘Well, how much time can they really spend with their kids?’ But with Cate, she’s got that balance so right.
When you don’t work, do you miss it?I miss the idea of it. But then it’s that first day of getting up at 5.30am to go to set and I remember why it’s OK not to do it as well. It’s like any job. There are those days that make you realise why you put in the hours.
Your son in The Pursuit Of Happyness is played by Will Smith’s real son [seven-year-old Jaden] and you were only 16 when you made your first film, Flirting. Do you think being a child actor is potentially detrimental?I don’t know. I was thinking the other day about Jamie Bell and Billy Elliot. That was a huge showcase for him, then he tootled along getting on with life and now he’s back. The same with Mischa Barton. I remember her doing childhood roles. There are so many things that kids do. Doing a film is like going to camp in a way. It doesn’t have to suddenly be: ‘Right, you’re an actor now.’ I remember Flirting. I didn’t expect to make another film. I thought: ‘Well, this is cool. I’m a dancer but I’m not doing anything else this summer and, crazily, they want me to do it.’ So I went and did that in my summer holiday and went back to school.
How did it turn into a career?Another offer came along and again it fell during the summer holiday, so I thought: ‘I’ll do it again.’ By that time, I’d given up dancing and gone more into academia [she studied anthropology at Cambridge] and then the parts kept coming. I was a student and could do with the extra cash. I didn’t really want to work in the local bakery for next to nothing. And then it just sort of became a career.

Monday, January 08, 2007

uk premiere 8th January 2007

Will Smith met Prince’s Trust beneficiary, fashion designer Chandrika Thomas, at a charity lunch in aid of The Prince’s Trust prior to the UK premiere this evening of The Pursuit of Happyness at the Dorchester Hotel earlier today in London, England. Will, 38, brought along wife Jada Pinkett Smith, 35, and his Happyness co-star and son Jaden, 8. Jaden is too cute for words! Also pictured: Happyness co-star Thandie Newton.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Thandie is star struck...

Thandie Newton Is Star Struck by Jack NicholsonThandie Newton has a massive crush on Hollywood veteran Jack Nicholson - but blew her one chance to seduce him. The actress - 34 and married to writer/director Ol Parker - literally bumped into the 69-year-old at the Venice Film Festival, but was too star struck to talk.
She explains, "Jack Nicholson's the only man who makes me star struck. I met him once at the Venice Film Festival when I was there to talk about The Crossing Guard. I fell into his lap by accident on a boat, then I sat opposite him and couldn't speak I was so over-awed. He's always so brilliant on screen."