There are a lot of motherfuckers in Hollywood who should be investing in the continued health and well being of Thandie Newton. They (and they know who they are) might consider signing her up for a vitamin of the month club or something because in a recent Vulture interview, Thandie let it be known that she’s got a “little black book, which will be published on my deathbed.” Thandie has been through the wringer and has thankfully come out the other side a self-possessed queen who will shank you, with extreme Britishness, with the word “love.” But nothing she endured could prepare her for the harrowing experience of starring opposite a pulsating zit on the tip of Tom Cruise’s nose.
Thandie’s been in the business since she was 16 and has the war stories to prove it, including having been allegedly groomed and sexually abused by John Duigan, the director of her first-ever movie, 1991’s Flirting co-starring Nicole Kidman. That experience had a huge impact on her career and sense of self-worth. However, years later, it did lead to Nicole getting her a role in Mission: Impossible 2 where she learned that Tom, Nicole’s husband at the time, was so intense, he had the ability to “manifest a zit” in a fraction of the time it would take a mere mortal. Thandie said:
I remember at the beginning of the night, seeing this slight red mark on his nose, and by the end of the night, I kid you not — this is how his metabolism is so fierce — he had a big whitehead where that red dot was. It would take anyone else 48 hours to manifest a zit. I saw it growing, and it was like the zit was me, just getting bigger and bigger.
According to Thandie, part of the reason Tom was so wound up was because he was trying “superhard to be a nice person,” the shade of which might as well have been coming from the umbrella she must have used to keep herself dry should Tom’s zit explode mid-scene. Working with Tom was the reason she declined to take part in any subsequent M:I movies.
I was so scared of Tom. He was a very dominant individual. He tries superhard to be a nice person. But the pressure. He takes on a lot. And I think he has this sense that only he can do everything as best as it can be done. There was one time, we were doing this night scene, there were so many extras with pyrotechnics and you name it, and it was a scene with him and me on the balcony. And I don’t think it was a very well-written scene. I get angry with him. We’re frustrated with each other. And we’re looking out over Spain. It wasn’t going well. And John Woo, bless him, wasn’t there. He was downstairs looking at everything on a monitor. And John had made a decision at the beginning of the movie, unbeknownst certainly to me, that he didn’t speak English. Which I think was very helpful to him, but it was extremely unhelpful to the rest of us. So this scene was happening, and Tom was not happy with what I was doing because I had the shittiest lines.
And he gets so frustrated with having to try and explain that he goes, “Let me just — let’s just go do it. Let’s just rehearse on-camera.” So we rehearsed and they recorded it, and then he goes, “I’ll be you. You be me.” So we filmed the entire scene with me being him — because, believe me, I knew the lines by then — and him playing me. And it was the most unhelpful … I can’t think of anything less revealing. It just pushed me further into a place of terror and insecurity. It was a real shame. And bless him. And I really do mean bless him, because he was trying his damnedest.
Another thing Thandie learned on that set was that Scientology Christmas gifts are worse than Jehovah’s Witness Christmas gifts which is saying a lot since Jehovah’s Witness Christmas gifts are non-existent. Thandie said that she was surprised to learn that Crash director Paul Haggis was a Scientologist (at the time) because he was smart. Tom, not so much.
I’ve worked with Tom Cruise, and he was very generous and open about sharing Scientological stuff. Christmas gifts would be something to do with Scientology.
Like a book with the greatest hits of Scientology, a bit like a Bible kind of thing. I was curious, because it’s like, Wow, if it’s going to attract people, powerful, high-profile people, there’s got to be some glue that sticks this shit together. Didn’t find any.
Thandie said that years of therapy and healing from her past experiences of sexual abuse have made her a stronger person. So strong in fact, that she’s no longer intimidated by the thought of getting squirted with a shot of Tom’s space pus.
I’d had good therapy. I’d realized that I was precious. If it was me now, I would want to go in and go, “Hey!” I’d be it. You wouldn’t need to play me and I play you on that balcony. And I would have squeezed that spot. Bam!
Well, great. Now I need therapy!
Pic: Paramount Pictures