Thandiwe Adjewa "Thandie" Newton
(born 6 November 1972) is an English actress. She has appeared in a number
of successful British and American films, including The Pursuit of
Happyness; Run, Fat Boy, Run; Mission: Impossible II; Crash and W.
Newton was born in London, England, and is the daughter of Nyasha, a
Zimbabwean health-care worker, and Nick Newton, an English laboratory
technician and artist. Her birthplace has been incorrectly reported to be
Zambia in some biographies, however she has confirmed in interviews that
she was born in London, during a two-week trip by her parents. The name
"Thandiwe" means "beloved" in Ndebele, Zulu, Xhosa or Swazi and the name
"Thandie" is pronounced TAN-dee. According to Newton, her mother is a
Zimbabwean Shona Princess. Raised in London and Penzance, Cornwall, she
went on to study Archaeology and Anthropology at Downing College,
Cambridge, from 1992 to 1995, where she achieved a 2:1.
Newton made her film debut in Flirting (1991). She gained international
recognition in the Merchant Ivory production of Jefferson in Paris as
Sally Hemings, which led to her being cast in Jonathan Demme's Beloved
(1998), in which she played the title character. She played the female
lead Nyah Hall in the film Mission: Impossible II. When this film went
over schedule, she had to pull out of the film Charlie's Angels, and her
character ultimately went to Lucy Liu.
Between 2003 and 2005, Newton played Makemba "Kem" Likasu, the love
interest, and later wife of Dr. John Carter on the American television
series ER. She reprised the role once more for the series finale in 2009.
In 2004 also appeared in The Chronicles of Riddick and Crash. In the
latter, she played a wealthy black woman who, along with her husband,
finds herself the target of a racist policeman (played by Matt Dillon).
Newton was honoured with a BAFTA award for Best Supporting Actress in
2006. She also played Chris Gardner's wife, Linda Gardner, in The Pursuit
In addition to her film and television credits she played the title role
in a 2006 radio pantomime version of Cinderella.
In 2007, she starred alongside Eddie Murphy in the comedy Norbit as his
love interest, and opposite Simon Pegg as his ex-girlfriend in the comedy
Run Fat Boy Run.
Newton next portrayed U.S. National Security Advisor-turned Secretary of
State Condoleezza Rice, in W., Oliver Stone's film biography of President
George W. Bush. The film was released 17 October 2008.
Newton was an introducer at Wembley Stadium on 7 July 2007 for the UK leg
of Live Earth. She was due to introduce Al Gore to the concert, but he was
delayed, leaving Newton to tell jokes to try and entertain the audience.
Newton next portrayed the United States President's First Daughter Laura
Wilson in 2012, a disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich and released
13 November 2009.
Newton married English writer/director/producer Ol Parker in 1998. The
couple have two daughters: Ripley, born in 2000, and Nico, born in 2004.
Her daughters were named after the character Ellen Ripley in the Alien
films and the singer Nico.
In 2006, she contributed a foreword to We Wish: Hopes and Dreams of
Cornwall's Children, a book of children's writing published in aid of the
NSPCC. In it, she writes vividly about her childhood memories of growing
up in Cornwall and the way in which the county's vibrant cultural heritage
made it easy for her to "enrich every situation with layers of magic and
In 2008, Newton visited poverty-stricken Mali, describing it as a
"humbling experience". She visited the village of Nampasso in the Ségou
Region of the country.
Newton swapped her BMW X5 for a Toyota Prius after protesters bombarded
the car with eggs at the gates of her daughters’ school. She then wrote to
her celebrity friends, asking them to join her in switching to more
environmentally sound cars.
In an interview with The Advocate, Newton revealed she had a lesbian
relationship at 16 and was in love with the girl. She discussed her sexual
orientation saying "We're all potentially bisexual; it all depends on your
circle, your upbringing and all kinds of things. Or maybe I'm just talking
about myself. I could've easily fallen in love with a woman over a man."
Newton has suffered from bulimia.
Some of Newton's co-stars have mentioned that she can be a bit of a
practical joker. Simon Pegg, for instance, mentioned that she once put
plastic wrap over his toilet whilst shooting Run Fatboy Run, and sewed up
the neck and cuffs of his T-shirts. Furthermore, on the special features
of the DVD, whilst Simon Pegg is being interviewed, they are interrupted
by the fact that Pegg has to change bottles of water - the stock provided
was replaced with vodka by Newton. "He is extremely easy to do these
things to. I got him, what a sap!" said Newton at the film's London
premiere. David Schwimmer (who directed the film) dubbed the actress "the
queen of practical jokes".
"It was hysterical. We wanted
to make it naughty and fun. When the camera stopped rolling, it was
hard to stop laughing." - about her love scene with Tom Cruise in
Mission: Impossible 2 (2000)
"I use the film industry as a pleasure for work and that kind of
thing and it's not a pursuit to make me feel happy in my life."
"Having children is life-changing, to state the obvious. It's a
gigantic shift in your life and I welcomed it. Not to put too fine a
point on it, there's something about the shame that goes with sexual
exploitation, deviance, whatever. As a woman, having a baby
psychologically erases it all from your body. And that, for me, was
"I don't put the pressure on myself to be a very successful movie
star. I want to enjoy being an actor and I want to be challenged by
the roles I take. What is lovely is that I'll get sent a small
movie, and you know that by virtue of me being involved they get
their money and that's fantastic."
"God, yeah, I'm good at playing the emotionally strangled person.
The woman who is in the worst place in her life. That's me!"
"I remember one day on the set of Flirting, Nicole telling me she'd
got an audition with [Tom] Cruise for his movie Days of Thunder.
Jokingly, I asked her why she'd ever want to work with him. We all
know the answer to that now."