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Run, Fat Boy, Run - Thandie Newton interview

Thandie Newton in Run, Fat Boy, Run

Interview by Rob Carnevale

THANDIE Newton talks about the pleasure of appearing in Run, Fat Boy, Run and establishing a believable mother-son relationship with her young co-star…

Q. Was it nice to do something closer to home after roles in Crash, The Pursuit of Happyness and Norbit?
Thandie Newton: Yeah, I was sent the script but it was the cover letter actually. I didn’t need to read it [the script]. It was directed by David [Schwimmer] and starred Simon Pegg. I didn’t know Simon at the time, which was why I leapt at the chance to do it. That was a dream come true. I’d also heard about David’s work in theatre and a few of my friends knew him and he sounded like a completely lovely person and incredibly talented too. I’ve admired Simon’s work for many years, so I wanted to do it on that basis.

Then when I met David and he talked about how he wanted to portray London and how he didn’t want to play the film for laughs, but with an authenticity and have the humour come out of that. I think that’s one of the strongest things about the film – it’s hilarious but everything is rooted in realism.

Simon Pegg: Well, I think that’s the least believable moment… it’s the moment in the film that requires the most suspension of disbelief – that I would jilt you at the altar [laughs]. Hang on a minute, Lord of the Rings is more convincing than that!

Thandie Newton: [Laughs] I genuinely think that what’s so lovely about the film is that you realise he [Pegg’s character] does that because he’s motivated by his lack of self worth. I think that’s really sophisticated and it’s very modern to have that kind of predicament in a film.

Q. Did you envy the physical element of the film and not being able to get out there and run with them?
Thandie Newton: No, not at all. In fact, before we started shooting David, very reasonably, said: “We want these characters to be real, how can we make you a girl next door?” So we looked at costumes and hairstyles and he said: “Just get friendly with puddings!” I can’t remember exactly what he said but something like that! So I did and that was easy. Simon got prosthetic breasts, bum and tummy. I thought it was quite unfair really.

Q. How did you go about establishing a maternal bond with Matthew?
Thandie Newton: A couple of times he came over to my house with him mum and hung out with my kids. He’s lovely and we’ll continue doing that. I get on very well with his mum. He was so much part of all of us – the cast and the crew. At the beginning of the movie as well, David gave Simon and Matthew really cool light sabres and I was really jealous. I got a beautiful candle but I would have loved a light sabre. But I think the presence of him mum there all the time was also really important. They’re just a lovely, down to earth family – they were grateful for the opportunity and were proud of Matthew. He had a tutor on the set as well, so in breaks he’d go and have lessons. It was a really great set-up.