British actress Thandie Newton confesses that taking on the role of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Oliver Stone’s upcoming biopic W was a challenge, but “I decided to close my eyes and leap. I wanted to take the risk,” she told the London Times.
“Oliver woke me up,” she says of the director, who had an “absolute belief that I could play this character who was absolutely nothing like me. She didn’t look like me; she’s a couple of decades older than me. And I’m English, for goodness’ sake.”
But once she began researching Rice, Newton said, “That was when it got really f***ing fun!” But she nearly backed out when rehearsals began in Louisiana, admitting, “I was thinking, ‘F***, have I made a mistake?’”
To add to her angst, the makeup crew didn’t allow her to wear prosthetics: “That was a bit of a blow.” For the role, some slight makeup tricks, a Rice-like crop and some false teeth helped Newton get “all Condi’d up.”
Of Stone choosing Newton over other black actresses who were physically more compatible to Rice, she said, “You’ll have to ask Oliver about that. But he was informed in his decision. He’d seen Crash and The Pursuit of Happyness and he liked the fact that the woman sitting in front of him was nothing like those characters. I’m a bit of a blank slate, and I think that helps.”