Thandie Newton’s Story of Sexual Abuse During an Audition Is Still Horrifying

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Photo: LEON NEAL/Getty Images

In an interview with W Magazine, Thandie Newton revisited a troubling story in which she was taken advantage of as a young actress during an audition. Newton first spoke about the incident in an interview with CNN in 2013. As the story goes, she was 18 years old when an unnamed casting director asked her to do sexually inappropriate things for him. “A director, on a callback, had a camera shooting up my skirt and asked me to touch my tits and think about the guy making love to me in the scene," she told W. "I thought, ‘Ok, this is a little weird,’ but there was a female casting director in the room and I’d done weird stuff before so I did it."

Later on, at a film festival, a drunk producer told her that the director would show the tape to his friends and that they would "all get off on it":

Years later, at a film festival, a producer told her drunkenly, "'Oh, Thandie, I’ve seen you recently!’ And he lurched away looking really shocked that he’d said that.” Her husband approached the man for some clarification. “It turns out that the director was showing that audition tape to his friends after poker games at his house. And they would all get off on it,” Newton said.

To CNN, Newton said that she felt scarred by "the way I was exploited and the kind of role and the kinds of things I was expected to do in auditions.”

This wasn't the only exploitative relationship that Newton had in show business as a teenager. When Newton was 16 years old, she began a six-year relationship with the director John Duigan while on the set of his film Flirting. Duigan was 39 years old at the time. "I was a very shy, very sweet girl. I wasn't in control of the situation. Would I have liked things to be different? Sure," she said to InStyle in a 2011 interview. "But I can now value myself more for the way I got through it. I don't see myself as a victim." But she does think of that as an inappropriate, coercive relationship: "In retrospect, although it was legal because I was 16, I was coerced."