With her beautiful, silken complexion, small frame and eloquent English accent, Thandie Newton is hard to picture as the Beloved from Toni Morrison’s novel. But she becomes the character in the film.
In preparing for the challenging role, Newton reread the novel.
“I was stunned with how inconclusive it is as to who Beloved is,” Newton said. “There was no center to who she was, and I really did have a panic about it, but then I was able to meet Toni Morrison.”
The first time she met Morrison, Newton said was too intimidated by the prestigious author to talk to her. But eventually they spoke, and Newton asked Morrison “Who is she to you?” referring to Beloved.
“She said something so beautiful. She said `Beloved is the you in you that you can’t betray.’ I realized at that point that Beloved was a metaphor, but more than that – a universal essence to who you are.”
Newton’s development of Beloved is commendable. She conducted research on people who were isolated from civilization and adopted some of their characteristics for Beloved.
“The tiny details we take for granted I had to rethink,” Newton said. “I knew this was a unique character that was out of this world yet of this world.”
Although she calculated some of Beloved’s idiosyncrasies, other actions were performed spontaneously. From this combination, the character of Beloved grew and evolved within Newton.
“I wanted people to feel unsettled,” Newton said. “I wanted there to always be in the back of your mind the sense of pain.”
From the moment she appears on screen, the audience feels the pain of Beloved – Newton forces it. Newton’s acting ability seems limitless with this role. She is bound by nothing, willing to assume the greatest of challenges. In her next endeavor, Newton stars in Bernado Bertolucci’s The Siege. After that, she will play opposite Tom Cruise in the next Mission: Impossible.