Thandie Newton: I was abused on casting couch

Brit actress speaks out about sexism in the film industry, saying she was ‘objectified to an extreme’.

Thandie Newton has revealed that she was sexually exploited by an unnamed director at the age of 18.

In an interview with CNN, the British-born actress told of a “horrific incident” in which she was made to touch herself during an early screen test.

[Related story: Julianne Hough reveals abuse history]

Thandie at yesterday's 'One Billion Rising' event in Westminster (Credit: Rex)
Speaking in support of yesterday’s ‘One Billion Rising’ protests, part of an international campaign to end violence against women, Newton said:

“The director asked me to sit with my legs apart – the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt…

“Before I started my dialogue, [I was told to] think about the character I was supposed to be having the dialogue with and how it felt to be made love to by this person.”

Thandie was then made to touch herself as the camera zoomed in between her legs. A female casting director was also in the room.

She continued: “I was thinking, ‘This is so strange, why would I need to do that?’ But this is the director, there is the casting director, [it] must be normal.”

Thandie told CNN that she later found out the director used to show the recording to “interested parties” at his house - revealing that her and her husband were accosted by a producer the Cannes Film Festival, claiming to have seen the footage.

The actress, now 40, chose to reveal her experience as part of a day of international protests by campaign group ‘One Billion Rising’ - taking place in Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, South Africa, Peru, New York Los Angeles and London – aimed at raising awareness of violence towards women.

Anne Hathaway, Jane Fonda, Ruby wax and Jahmene Douglas also gave their public support to the event organised by 'Vagina Monologues' playwright Eve Ensler.

Thandie admitted that the incident was not the first of its kind to happen to her: “When I was a 16-year-old fresh from boarding school going out in, you know, the casting couch, I was definitely objectified to an extreme,” she said.

She has declined to name director in question.