Long Career of Excellent Character Acting
By Lee Parham
While Thandiwe Newton isn’t Hollywood’s traditional leading lady, the Reminiscence star has made a name for herself with over 3 decades of fabulous work as a character actor.
Newton was born in London, England to an English father named Nick Newton and a Zimbabwean mother named Nyasha. Thandiwe means “beloved” in Nguni.
She began her acting career as a teenager after completing primary school. Newton made her film debut in 1991 with Flirting, an Australian coming-of-age teen drama.
Her career began to ramp up from there, landing a role in Interview with the Vampire, starring alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars in Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas.
The remainder of the 1990s witnessed a plethora of supporting roles for Newton in movies like Jefferson in Paris, The Leading Man, Gridlock’d, Besieged, and Beloved.
Thandiwe made her foray into action cinema in the early 2000s with supporting roles in Mission Impossible 2, reuniting her with Tom Cruise, and The Chronicles of Riddick, starring Vin Diesel.
Newton received critical and awards acclaim in 2005 with the crime drama Crash, which went on to win best picture and earned her a slew of nominations for her supporting role.
After Crash, Newton began to shift her career towards more serious parts in films such as The Pursuit of Happiness, For Colored Girls, and as U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in W.
However she still took on the occasional role in more pulp entertainment, like starring alongside Eddie Murphy in the critically panned comedy Norbit or as an art expert in the disaster flick 2012.
Newton even joined the Star Wars universe in Solo: A Star Wars Story as Val, a sharp-shooting criminal and wife of Tobias Beckett, played by Woody Harrelson.
However some of Thandiwe’s most successful parts came on television. She had a recurring role on the iconic American hospital drama E.R. as Makemba Likasu.
Newton’s most acclaimed role can be found on the HBO series Westworld as Maeve Millay. She is one of the most prominent characters on the show and her performance earned an Emmy win in 2018.
Most recently Newton can be seen in Reminiscence as Emily Sanders, pairing up once again with Westworld creator Lisa Joy and starring alongside Hugh Jackman in the science fiction thriller.
Decades of standout supporting roles in some of cinema and television’s most beloved stories have established Thandiwe Newton as one of the industry's most respected names.