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Thandie Newton’s tale of abuse has been lost in those Tom Cruise “pimple” headlines

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Kayleigh Dray
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Thandie Newton

“If you’re a young Black girl and you get raped, in the film business, no one’s going to fucking care,” says Thandie Newton.     

Thandie Newton and Tom Cruise are trending right now, and it’s all due to a pimple anecdote she shared about the actor during a recent interview.

“I have read and re-read the Tom Cruise portion of the interview several times,” noted one bewildered social media user, adding that they hoped someone might open a Twitter account for the aforementioned pimple.

“She’s living on his nose rent-free,” added another.

“Thandie Newton telling this Tom Cruise story,” said one more, sharing screengrabs of the anecdote. “Yes, I’ll be thinking about it for a long time.”

And that tweet, for reference, has had 2,278 retweets and well over 16.9K ‘likes’ at the time of this article’s publication.

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We get it: a lot of people find pimple stories funny. Especially when they feature one of Hollywood’s biggest and highest-paid stars. Even more so when the person sharing the story is as warm and witty as Newton is. 

However, presenting this fleeting anecdote as the biggest takeaway from Newton’s revelatory Vulture interview isn’t just woefully incorrect – it does the actor a grave disservice, too.

Because, in the very same piece, Newton speaks candidly about the “casual” and blatant racism she has experienced throughout her career. About the sexual abuse she has been subjected to. About the enormous impact that these incidents have had on her mental health.

We need to talk about all of this, far more than we need to share another meme about Cruise’s blemishes. And we need to talk about it right now.

Thandie Newton
Thandie Newton: “There is no side of the story when you’re sexually abused. You give that up.”

There are many striking moments throughout the piece, including Newton’s tears over a racially-charged scene in 2004’s Crash, and her upset over the thoughtless demise of her character, Maeve, in Westworld.

One which we particularly feel should be underlined, though, is Newton’s alleged run-in with movie producer and former Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chairperson Amy Pascal.

According to the actor, she first met Pascal when she was considering a role in the 2000 reboot of Charlie’s Angels. She already had her doubts about the film, after learning that the very first shot of her would focus primarily on her “ass” (“I didn’t want to be put in a position where I was objectified,” she said). Her meeting with the studio head, though, reaffirmed Newton’s belief that the role was all wrong for her when Pascal explained that – if she were cast – changes would have to be made from the script so the character would be “believable”.

Newton told Vulture: “She’s like, ‘Well, you know, the character, as written, she’s been to university and is educated.’ I’m like, ‘I’ve been to university. I went to Cambridge.’

“She went, ‘Yeah, but you’re different… maybe there could be a scene where you’re in a bar and she gets up on a table and starts shaking her booty.’ She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character…

“I didn’t do the movie as a result.”

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Later in the piece, Newton, who has alleged that she was groomed and sexually abused by director John Duigan, discussed how that experience was framed in the press as an “affair”.

“[I am evidence of the fact that] you can dismiss a Black person,” she said. “If you’re a young Black girl and you get raped, in the film business, no one’s going to fucking care. You can tell whoever the fuck you want, and they’ll call it an affair.

“Until people start taking this seriously, I can’t fully heal.”

Thandie Newton
Thandie Newton: “If you’re a young Black girl and you get raped, in the film business, no one’s going to fucking care. You can tell whoever the fuck you want, and they’ll call it an affair.”

As open as Newton is throughout the piece, though, the actor has noted that there are still some ‘casting couch’ stories that she has held back from sharing.

“I’m not doing it when I’m alive,” she said, explaining that she will be asking for a “little black book” to be published upon her death.

“I don’t want to deal with all the fallout and everyone getting their side of the story. There is no side of the story when you’re sexually abused. You give that up.”

And, sadly, the reaction to this interview is more than proof of that.

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Too many people have chosen to ignore all of Newton’s recollections of racism, colourism, objectification, and sexual abuse. Too many have brushed aside the bravery and vulnerability she’s displayed in talking about her eating disorders. And hardly anyone has praised the actor for the extreme strength she found within herself, not just to endure all of this shit, but to use her platform and speak out.

Why? Because they’re far more into a tweet-worthy tale about Tom Cruise’s zit, apparently. 

How fucking depressing.

If you, or anyone you know, needs help and support, you can call the Rape Crisis national helpline on 0808 802 9999 (open 12pm - 2.30pm and 7pm - 9.30pm daily). You can also find your nearest centre here or visit the website for more information here.

To read Thandie Newton’s interview with Vulture in full, visit their website now.

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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