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Thandie Newton recalls 'nightmare' of acting with Tom Cruise: 'I was so scared'

"It just pushed me further into a place of terror and insecurity. It was a real shame," she said.
/ Source: TODAY

Working with Tom Cruise may sound like the opportunity of a lifetime for many actors, but Thandie Newton said it was quite the challenge at times.

The actress, 47, has opened up about how difficult it was making “Mission: Impossible 2” with him.

“I was so scared of Tom,” she told Vulture. “He was a very dominant individual. He tries super hard 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.”

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II, Thandie Newton, Tom Cruise, 2000. (c) Paramount Pictures/ Courtesy: Everett
Thandie Newton and Tom Cruise in "Mission: Impossible II."(C)Paramount / Courtesy Everett Collection

The “Westworld” star specifically recalled one night scene in which Cruise turned the tables on her while making the 2000 blockbuster.

"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,'" she said. "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."

"It was the most unhelpful … I can’t think of anything less revealing," she continued. "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."

The Charles Finch and Chanel Pre-BAFTA Cocktail Party and Dinner
Thandie Newton (L) and Tom Cruise attend the Charles Finch and Chanel Pre-BAFTA cocktail party and dinner at Annabel's on Feb. 8, 2013 in London.Dave M. Benett / Getty Images

Newton went on to explain that Cruise had a zit that grew as the night went on.

"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."

She described that experience as "a nightmare."

While it was a tough shoot, Newton emphasized that Cruise was under pressure.

“He wasn’t horrible. It was just — he was really stressed,” she said.

The “Crash” star also reflected on having to change the color of her skin for roles early in her career.

“I mean, I was perceived in so many different ways, and it was always about the individual who was perceiving. It was very much on the spectrum of 'Is she Black enough or is she too Black?' ... The number of times I would put on a fake tan or take it down or up,” she said.

Newton singled out her roles in 1995’s “Jefferson in Paris,” in which she played Sally Hemings, a slave who had Thomas Jefferson’s child, and in "Beloved" the 1998 film based on Toni Morrison's book.

“Like the Sally Hemings story, with that movie, she had to be super-pale,” she said. “With 'Beloved,' they wanted me to be a lot darker.”