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15th Feb 2013

British Actress Reveals How She Was Abused As A Teenager On The Casting Couch

The British star has shared her story as part of the One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women.


Actress Thandie Newton has told how she was abused as a teenage actress on a casting couch.

The 40-year-old British star said she is still scarred by the “horrific” incident involving an unnamed male director when she was 18 and looking for her “big break”.

The mum-of-two is now married to film producer Oliver Parker. She said she later found out the director involved had shown a video of her ordeal to others in the show business.

Thandie, who has starred in films including Crash and Mission: Impossible II, has chosen to speak out about her abuse as part of an international campaign to end violence against women, One Billion Rising, the number who have been raped, beaten or abused.

“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 told CNN International journalist Max Foster.

“The way I was made to feel. The way I was exploited and the kind of role and the kinds of things I was expected to do in auditions.”

“So you were abused as a 16-year-old?” Foster asked.

 “Yes,” Newton replied.

She explained how that at the time she didn’t know how to react because it was conducted in what she describes as a “professional environment”.

Thandie with her husband Oliver Parker.

Thandie also shared an incident that happened her when she was 18 years old.

“It was a screen test. There were two other people in the room, the director and the casting director, who was a woman.

“The director asked me to sit with my legs apart, the camera was positioned where it could see up my skirt, to put my leg over the arm of the chair.

“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 said she was humiliated and confused.

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

“I’m 18 years old, you know, and I’m thinking this is, obviously… I was in a protected… there were boundaries.”

Three years later, she discovered the video was being shown by the director to other show business figures.

“It turned out the director… used to show that video late at night to interested parties at his house, a video of me touching myself with a camera up my skirt,” she said.

Newton declined to name the director or say if she knew whether he was still in the business.

She said she found out about the video being shown around when she was with her now-husband Oliver at a party a few years later. She said they were approached by a drunken British producer who boasted of having been shown her ordeal.


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