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.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Norbit Interview Monday, February 5, 2007