Thandie Newton: A fresh attitude with a little vintage flair
NEW YORK — Don't come between Thandie Newton and Ossie Clark.
At Fashion District's Southpaw, a mirrored, flashy, plant-filled den crammed with costly vintage gowns by sartorial icons Clark, Yves Saint Laurent and Jean Muir, Newton is having a fashion emergency.
The giddy actress holds a black, yellow, orange and green Ossie Clark frock up to her and twirls. "This is sick. This is disgusting!" she cries, meaning the exact opposite.
Newton, 35, doesn't work with a stylist, picks out all her own ensembles, loves Matthew Williamson, Jonathan Saunders and Alexander McQueen, and haunts the vintage stores at home in London. Today, she's wearing a dark-blue minidress by Bella Freud, paired with a leopard-print vintage coat and matching Prada bag.
"It is grotesque how out of control manufacturing has become, and the excess, the pollution that's caused by it. Vintage is not only glorious and stylish, it's also the way forward in terms of recycling," she says. "Whenever I go into great vintage stores, I wonder why we ever buy new things."
Among finds: some "amazing" Clark dresses "that I paw occasionally in my cupboard," and a Jean Muir dress, white with blue spots, "that I wear to death."
Newton's daughters Ripley, 7, and Nico, 3, aren't immune to their mom's vintage scores. "I got a pair of Terry de Havilland bright pink showgirl shoes, with pink encrusted glitter. Ripley was like, 'Can I have those when I'm older?' " Newton says with a laugh. "Yes, you can."
Newton is so sparkly, so confident, that it's impossible to imagine her in the same situation as Libby, the pregnant bride who gets left at the altar by her panicked fiancé (Simon Pegg) in Run Fat Boy Run, opening Friday. To win her back, he decides to compete in a marathon.
"Despite it being a comedy, the movie resonates with real, proper sentiment that, very often, our worst enemy is ourselves and how we feel about ourselves," she says. "Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. The most heroic thing is to write that letter that says 'I love you.' "
In real life, Newton is happily married to British writer Ol Parker (Imagine Me & You). She also just finished her first script. "Until something's really happening, there's no point in talking about it because it's just empty promises. I wanted to do it and I enjoyed it, so whatever happens …."
She applies that same attitude toward her acting. Newton has been in 1998's Beloved, 2000's Mission: Impossible II and 2004's Crash. But, the actress says, "I'm not as fascinated by this job anymore, and I know it has to do with the material. I'm not going to chase it."
Take Crash, in which she played Terrence Howard's enraged wife, who gets groped by a racist cop. It's one of the rare parts that engrossed Newton, but, she says, "Crash was two weeks of my life. The roles that fascinate me have been teeny. Some people get to do great work and be really impressive and wonderful — Jane Fonda and Meryl Streep, Isabelle Adjani. And then, there's a lot of (junk). I'm not moaning, because that's how it is, so I've built up life to compensate."
She recently traveled to Mali with the World Vision relief organization, calling it "deeply satisfying."
Though she may find acting less gratifying, she keeps at it. A West End stage debut is in the works for later this year. And she just wrapped Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla, a gangster movie in which she plays a crooked accountant. Now, she calls Ritchie, who's married to Madonna, a friend.
"They're a great family, those guys. They're really evolved."