Thandiwe Newton is not only the star of Westworld, but she has some other sci-fi tricks up her sleeve. Teaming up with Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy, the actress stars in Warner Bros.' Reminiscence alongside Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Ferguson. The film also serves as the feature directorial debut for Joy.
However, as she told S&A in a recent interview, Newton didn't think the role was something for her.
"I resisted it massively because I was terrified that I'd let her down," Newton told us. "I love Lisa. I admire her more than just about anyone I know in the business, because I've seen her grow in such a short period of time into this featured director. She'd made one thing before, which was an episode of Westworld, which is pretty hardcore because one episode of Westworld is like a movie that you have to shoot in three weeks, right? [laughs]. I just thought for Lisa, she deserves the best of the best of the best."
Newton says that she eventually got over the imposter syndrome and reconciled with herself that Joy set the role for her.
The film centers on Nick Bannister (Jackman), described as "a private investigator of the mind" who "navigates the darkly alluring world of the past by helping his clients access lost memories. Living on the fringes of the sunken Miami coast, his life is forever changed when he takes on a new client, Mae (Ferguson). A simple matter of lost and found becomes a dangerous obsession. As Bannister fights to find the truth about Mae's disappearance, he uncovers a violent conspiracy, and must ultimately answer the question: how far would you go to hold on to the ones you love?"
"I decided ultimately that I had to respect her," the actress explained. "She wanted me for this role. She thought I was the right person for this role, even though she, herself had said, 'You know, I mean, why can't Watts be petite? What's wrong with that?' As if she was even going through it herself. And I think that actually strangely what happened is that we both internalized the stereotype of what a woman should be like in the military, which is absolute horses**t. Women in the military are all kinds. It just take two seconds to Google and see like, well, that's me. There's me. There's me. That could be me. That could be me, etc, etc. And I think that one of the things that it's made me realize is a female perspective is crucial if we are going to have female characters on screen characters."
She also says that this is an example of why more characters and films need to be written by women, even though some men can do it well.
"Characters can't continue to be written by men," she said. "Look, it's great that men have an appreciation for women. It's great that men want to try and understand women. I mean, godd**m, I met my husband, he wrote a script and I could have sworn it was a woman that wrote it because he has that level of sensitivity. But the truth is women deserve to tell their stories. Women want to tell their stories, but women haven't been invited to tell their stories."
And this ties in exactly to her playing the character of Watts in Reminiscence.
"I think that me playing Watts and the fact that I realized that as an activist, empowering women, had internalized a kind of stereotype of what a woman in the military is," said Newton. "And I honestly think it's partly because I have been fed a diet of movies where stereotypes of women have been created by male writers. It excites me. I love being challenged. I love being wrong so that I can then get closer to being right. And I lived it. I lived the experience and could I save Hugh's life? In a heartbeat. I don't think anyone's going to come up him with like electric eels and syringes and mad weapons, but I got his back, man, and he knows it."
Reminiscence is now in theaters and is also streaming for a limited amount of time on HBO Max.