Monday, February 26, 2007
Friday, February 16, 2007
Thursday February 15, 2007 EducationGuardian.co.uk
Schools will have access to films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign language titles as part of a pilot programme to bring a wider range of movies into the classroom.
The chancellor, Gordon Brown, will today launch a film-sharing initiative on a visit to a school in north-west London. The scheme aims to give 10,000 schools across the country access to up to 400 film titles.
Mr Brown said greater exposure to world cinema would deepen children's understanding of different cultures and ideas. The new programme will be known as Film Club.
He said: "We want every young person to be able to use their school facilities outside normal school hours for sport, arts, music or other constructive activities.
"Film Club is a great example of how schools can offer young people the chance to do something engaging and exciting at the end of their school day. For the first time, Film Club will allow young people to watch a much wider range of films from world cinema together and discuss them in groups.
"We all know films can inspire us to think more deeply about the world around us, learn about different experiences and cultures and think creatively about bringing our own ideas to life.
"The movies shown by Film Club can be both entertaining and educational, but, most encouragingly, they get young people talking about the issues and ideas raised and wanting to see and learn more."
Teachers and pupils will be able to access films via a website, Filmclub.org, where they will also be able to write reviews and rate the movies.
The scheme, backed by the UK Film Council and EducationGuardian, is being piloted in schools across Yorkshire, London, Kent, Surrey and Northern Ireland.
Mr Brown will be joined at St Augustine's CE high school in Kilburn this afternoon by the film director and Film Club founder Beeban Kidron as well as by the actress Thandie Newton.
Stars in their eyesAlexandra Smith attends the premiere of a school film club in London, featuring the chancellor, Gordon Brown, and director Beeban Kidron Friday February 16, 2007EducationGuardian.co.uk Gordon Brown and director Beeban Kidron launch 'Film Club' at a school in London. Photographer: Graeme Robertson
You would be hard pressed to find a school day that attracts more fanfare than one that has famous faces from Britain's film industry on the guest list.
Or so you would think. But it wasn't Crash star Thandie Newton or The Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald who left the teenagers star-struck yesterday. Even Macdonald's newly acquired Bafta went virtually unnoticed.
As the pair, joined by Bridget Jones - Edge of Reason director Beeban Kidron, wandered from classroom to classroom chatting to groups of pupils at St Augustine's CE high school in north-west London, it was the chancellor, Gordon Brown, that had the youngsters in awe. They hung on his every word.
Newton may have name-dropped that she was friends with Oprah Winfrey (failing to raise an eyebrow from the hard-to-impress teens) but the pupils were far more enthralled with the chancellor's interest in football. Many even tried to impress him with claims that if they didn't make it as a football manager, the next best job would be in politics. As chancellor, of course.
Mr Brown, Newton, Macdonald and Kidron were at the school to launch Film Club, a film-sharing programme to give 10,000 schools across the country access to up to 400 film titles.
Film Club was the brainchild of Kidron - a friend of the chancellor - who has been trying to get it off the ground for at least two years. Her idea is simple. Schools will have access to films ranging from Hollywood blockbusters to foreign language titles. They will watch them, discuss them and then review them.
Kidron wants to use her favourite medium to open the eyes of youngsters to world events, to get them thinking about everything from international politics to popular culture.
She has managed to persuade some of the leading names in British film to back the project. But her real trump card has been Mr Brown.
And he was clearly a supporter of her idea. He said: "Film Club is a great example of how schools can offer young people the chance to do something engaging and exciting at the end of their school day. For the first time, Film Club will allow young people to watch a much wider range of films from world cinema together and discuss them in groups."
Mr Brown may have boasted to the school assembly that Macdonald was heading to Hollywood for the Oscars later this month and described Newton's acting ability as brilliant, but when he told them he had just returned from India where he met the Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, there were shrieks of excitement from the girls.
"Yes, I know I am name-dropping," he told his delighted audience. Newton may know Oprah but it was the chancellor who knew exactly how to impress the 16-year-olds.
Gleeful Gordon It's been a busy week for Thandie Newton, what with the Baftas on Sunday night and numerous engagements at London Fashion Week. Somewhat more surprising, however, was her meeting yesterday with the Chancellor of the Exchequer.Indeed, I gather that the Crash actress had such an enjoyable time with Gordon Brown that she nearly missed the Giles show."She got to the show just in time and a little merry," says my source in the Moët VIP Room. "Thandie explained that she'd been helping Brown launch Film Club, a new initiative that aims to give schools access to thousands of movies. Beeban Kidron, the director of Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, is also involved."A spokesman for Brown tells me how delighted he was by the actress's participation."The Chancellor is very pleased that Thandie and others are giving up time to visit schools and talk about Film Club," he says. "It's a fantastic opportunity for children."
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Monday, February 12, 2007
Sunday, February 11, 2007
Thandie is there on the red carpet tonight, BBC1 is showing the event live they say at 21:00-22:00 and 22:20-23:20.
The evening news on BBC1 just showed a preview and were chatting to Daniel Craig, Thandie and Oliver were seen passing by in the background.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Thandie Newton does seem to have everything. The meltingly beautiful English and Zimbabwean actress has been happily married to the writer-director Oliver Parker for almost ten years; they have two girls - Ripley, six, and Nico, two; Newton boasts a stellar career - she won a BAFTA last year for her searing performance in Crash; she has co-starred with Brad Pitt (Interview with the Vampire), Nick Nolte (Jefferson in Paris) and Tom Cruise (his second impossible mission); and to complete the picture of perfection she is currently collapsed waifishly on a sofa in a long silken dress, looking like a mislaid Renaissance princess. But as soon as the photographer shouts, 'That's it!' she jumps to her feet, climbs calmly out of the outfit and greets me with a smile.
Thandie Newton is a rare combination of looks and talent wrapped round an analytical mind
When we sit down to talk she denies her life is special. 'From the outside it might look that way,' she admits. 'You know, the picture of it. But life is hard. Because we expect it not to be. It's what the Buddhists call samsara, that cycle of desire and expectation that leads to disappointment.'
The 34-year-old is a rather remarkable combination - looks and talent wrapped round an analytical mind and a quietly steely will.
If she wasn't so disarming, you could imagine she'd easily put people's backs up. She is clever (she got a 2:1 from Cambridge despite making six films during her degree) and today looks understatedly beautiful in pared-down, elegant clothes - a white Marni vest, brown Katayone Adeli trousers, blue Converse trainers and the thinnest of greige cashmere jumpers. In the same breath she will talk about giving birth without pain relief ('My body was just majestic!') and shopping for clothes - tomorrow, she confides, she is trying on the Giles Deacon dress she will wear to this year's BAFTAs. 'Oh my God, babe, you need to know about Giles!' she exclaims with amazement when I look blank at the designer's name. 'He won best fashion designer of the year! His work is sublime. I went to his studio last week, and it's like Alice in Wonderland!'
Currently on the big screens as Will Smith's wife in The Pursuit of Happyness (for which Smith has been nominated for a best-actor Oscar), Newton is in fact revelling in a spell at home after making several films back-to-back. Two have yet to come out - Norbit, an Eddie Murphy comedy, and Run, Fat Boy, Run, starring Simon Pegg as a deserting husband. 'Norbit's a huge comedy,' she says.
'It's all about funny. It starts in an orphanage, where Eddie's character and mine are children and in love. I get adopted because I'm cute and he gets bullied into being the boyfriend of a girl called Rasputia. It cuts to 15 years later when I've come to take over the orphanage. Eddie realises who he really is and what he really wants and that he's a downtrodden man.
I chased the film. I read the script and I loved it. It was very dark. Eddie had written it with his brother and the inspiration came from this internet site where you could watch large women beating up their small husbands.' She nods. 'Real footage! But that's Eddie for you.'
Run, Fat Boy, Run, by contrast, was directed by David Schwimmer from Friends. 'It's a comedy about a guy who leaves his pregnant wife at the altar because he feels unworthy, though of course everyone else is, like, "You bastard!" We made it in London,' says Newton. 'I never work in London and it was great, because now my kid's at school it's a whole different thing: through her I realise I want to be here, too. I don't want to be going everywhere.'
She is doubly thrilled because a trip to Los Angeles to promote Norbit the day after we talk has just been cancelled. 'So tomorrow I'll have a lovely day,' she says gleefully. 'First my friend Jenny, who is the editor of Rubbish magazine, is coming over to breakfast for her birthday - we'll have scrambled eggs and caviar. Then I'll pick Ripley up from school and won't have to say to her that I'm going to America. And in the evening I guess I'll go to Jenny's dinner!'
Newton seems comfortable segueing between her humdrum mum routine in Queen's Park and her red carpet appearances with Hollywood's A-list. She talks, as if they're the most ordinary subjects in the world, about Tom Cruise's charisma and how earnest and deep David Schwimmer is and how she turned down the Lucy Liu part in Charlie's Angels because she wanted to keep a balance in her marriage and had agreed to take a role in her husband's far smaller film It Was an Accident.
The director John Duigan (Sirens, Lawn Dogs) had recruited her when she was 16 and he was 40 to play a part in his film Flirting, when she was boarding at the Arts Education School in Tring, Hertfordshire. He took her to Australia, where she made the film alongside Nicole Kidman and Naomi Watts. He then began a relationship with her which lasted six years. She followed him to Hollywood. 'As an adult looking back, I feel so alarmed by what I got into,' she says with feeling today.
During their time together she did a degree in anthropology at Downing College, Cambridge, during which time she went on a publicity junket to Cannes two weeks before she sat her finals. In interviews then she spoke in a detached way of the recklessness of the students and how she had to think of her bank balance. But she says now that she was ashamed most of the time. 'Because I was hardly ever there. That whole period of my life was a bit of a mess. It was like I was doing time, because I had all these other places to be, and responsibilities. Whereas at university you should just be young and free.'
When she finally left Duigan at 22 she had a kind of breakdown. 'I don't think I would say a nervous breakdown, because that would mean hospitalisation, but I was very… I had a lot of shame, shame for leaving someone I once believed was everything. It felt like staying with him was my duty, but I did leave,' she says rather painfully.
Where were her parents in all this? 'Oh,' she says quietly and softly, 'I excluded my parents from everything. They couldn't have interfered if they'd wanted to. I was in London, they were in Cornwall, and I would put on a happy, healthy appearance. They were terrified when I finally talked to them - as a result we've been incredibly close ever since.'
Two unhappy love affairs followed. 'I was really broken up by some painful, shame-making experiences,' she admits with characteristic honesty. With lovers? 'I wouldn't even call them lovers. Or love-life. Hate-life! I think the film business is a really dangerous place for young people.' But what she found most difficult was the aftermath, realising, as she became happier, what she had lost during those years.
'But I have been through worse recently,' she says unexpectedly. How does she mean? She sighs. 'Um. I can't… I don't want to talk about it. I'm still… I'm still…' She frowns. 'I'm still learning. But it has changed me in many, many ways.' She won't say any more about this difficult thing, and I don't like to press her, or ask if it's to do with her family or health, though she does say it doesn't involve her marriage or her work. 'No, no, it's not. But I don't want to talk about it,' she says in a faster voice. 'But what's interesting is that I used to think, "All that stuff in my past is so huge," but it has paled to absolutely nothing now. And in a way that liberated me. Because when difficult things happen the worst thing that comes out of it is that you feel like a victim. You're placed in a position when you're a victim, and it's the weakest and most undermining place. I felt like a victim for such a long time.'
Newton and Matt Dillon in a scene from Crash
She was pulled out of that 'dark place' by Oliver Parker, one of three glamorous brothers, and the laid-back green-eyed son of the retired court of appeal judge Sir Jonathan Parker. 'There was a palpable sense of dismay among the girls when the couple got engaged,' an old friend of Oliver has said.
They met on the set of his 1997 television film In Your Dreams. He was deep into an eight-year relationship. When he and his girlfriend broke up, Newton told him she had fallen in love with him. 'He was shocked,' she has said, 'which in turn I found shocking, because he'd obviously failed to notice any of the signs. He was very honest and he said, "I can't say the same at the moment."' But he soon could, and they married a year later. 'Life was starting again,' is how she puts it. 'I had my second chance.'
Newton has said that she analyses everything 'until I get a headache', and she no doubt has had her tricky moments; but she comes across as happy and relaxed and is quick to point out that in comparison to her parents she has had an easy ride. Her English father, Nick, met her Zimbabwean mother, Nyasha, at the Lusaka Hospital in Zambia where he was a lab technician (he later became an artist). Nyasha was a midwife. 'She had a black eye and that's when my dad fell in love with her,' Newton recounts.
I ask if she followed the Big Brother racism/bullying row with Jade Goody. 'Oh,' she murmurs. 'Throw the spotlight on anybody and they're going to… Anybody if they had a video camera pointed at their faces… It's horrifying. I think it's tragic, actually, for Jade.' She has experienced racism herself, she says, but her views on it are not the same as other people's. 'Racism is the product of a deeper malaise, which is allowed to continue developing. But the way race is defined - the difference in skin colour - doesn't make any sense,' she observes. 'It is biologically unsound. You can't define a group of people by their skin. The first question I was asked when I went up for my anthropology interview at university was, "How do you define race?" I said, "Well, skin colour." The professor said, "Do you know there's more genetic difference between a Zambian and a Kenyan than between a Swiss person and a Kenyan?" It's about, like, weather!'
I ask if she is about to start filming again. She shakes her head. She is writing a screenplay - a comedy - and wants to stay at home. 'Ol is working incredibly hard on his writing right now and I want to be around to support him,' she goes on. 'We do that. It's been ten years, and it's been so easy.
You'd have thought by this point in a marriage you'd be like, "What now?" But it's like going further and further into this tapestry you create.'
InterviewNewton, left to right, with Nicole Kidman in 'Flirting' (1991); with Matt Dillon in 'Crash' (2004); winning a BAFTA in 2006; with her husband and parents in January; and with her daughter Ripley last yearMoviestore Collection. Matrix. Goff-Inf. AlphaInterview'I was really broken up by some shame-making experiences' Pretty
Friday, February 09, 2007
Monday, February 05, 2007
The Norbit Interview
with Kam Williams
Thandiwe Newton was born in London on November 6, 1972 to a mother from Zimbabwe
and British father. En route to fame and fortune, the 5’2” cutie pie
would remove a “w” and a syllable from her name, which means “beloved.”
This is ironic because she later played the title character in the screen adaptation
of the Toni Morrison novel “Beloved.”
But Thandie is probably now best known for her work in Crash, where she played
a woman violated right in front of her husband by a crude cop during a profile
stop. Although she wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar, she won a British
Academy Award for that nonpareil performance.
Also on her resume’ are memorable outings in Besieged, The Trouble with
Charlie, Mission: Impossible II, The Chronicles of Riddick, and as Sally Hemmings
in Jefferson in Paris. Recently, she appeared opposite Will Smith in The Pursuit
of Happyness. Here, Thandie talks about working opposite Eddie Murhphy in Norbit.
KW: What interested in playing Kate?
TN: After all these years, here was something that just pushed things a bit more.
I also thought it was an opportunity to really explore character. And despite
the fact that in many ways Kate is the straight man of the film, there were still
moments of fun and silliness that I could really enjoy. And, to be honest, the
main thing I wanted to experience was to be around a craftsman like Eddie, a genius,
to be in the presence of someone creating something memorable. And I just knew
from reading it that it was going to be memorable.
KW: What’s it like working with Eddie?
TN: You bust out with laughter and there’s romance, and it’s smart,
and makes you kind of think about stuff, but not so much so that you’re
twisting your brain. Everybody loves Eddie Murphy. Everybody appreciates what
he does and wants to see him enjoying what he’s doing. And he’s enjoying
what he’s doing and he’s doing something really special. I mean, I
didn’t know that this was going to be an opportunity for that, to be around
someone creating something special. It’s been a privilege.
KW: How do you generate chemistry with a character like Norbit?
TN: What the character Norbit is putting out there is basic human kindness, and
it’s got to be the most attractive, beautiful quality. So, for me as an
actress, and a person defining this character, to genuinely feel that Kate would
genuinely fall in love with Norbit is so exciting for me actually. Because even
though I’m doing this film which relies heavily on suspending your disbelief,
and is a fantasy, I always love to find the truth in things. And there is in this,
and it’s such a welcome surprise.
KW: What did you think of the rest of the cast?
TN: Cuba Gooding, Jr., I was so excited to be working with him,
and to be playing this couple with him, because he brings so much more complexity
to it. His comic timing is so good, and he’s such a cool guy. And every
single character in the film, no matter how small, is played by someone who just
fills it to its maximum. The movie has just drawn really strong quality performers
together. And I really feel like it’s a celebration of the work of Eddie
Murphy. Everybody says the same thing. We’re all bowing down to a great
man, and a great work. I love this film because it seems to bring so many of the
qualities that make him great together.
KW: What did you think of the makeup job they did on Eddie?
TN: The makeup is so advanced now that it really is real! So, when Eddie walks
on as Rasputia or as Mr. Wong, it’s fascinating.
Friday, February 02, 2007
Thandie Newton is on a quest to turn Celebville into a much greener place...
But it's turning out to be a mission impossible for poor old Thand.
The Brit actress teamed up with Greenpeace and penned some letters to her A-lister chums - in an attempt to persuade them to drive environmentally friendly cars.
Some of those who had a letter drop on their mat included Madonna, Jack Nicholson, Jamie Oliver, Chris Martin, Robin Williams, Ozzy Osbourne, David Beckham, Sir Sean Connery, Michael Jackson and Tom Cruise.
And what happened next?
"I didn't get one letter back," Thandie told the Daily Express.
"I wasn't judgmental. It was like, 'In case you didn't know here are some facts about the environment and some reasons why it turns out 4x4s aren't that great to have in the city.'"
But Thand hasn't taken this snub to heart and is still determined to convert celebs across the land.
She's already tackled talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
"I was staying with Oprah recently and I suggested that she switches her whole fleet of cars.
"I really hope she does. It would do so much good."
Over to you Oprah.
Story filed: 12:43 Thursday 1st February 2007