Lucy Liu opened up in a recent interview about the difficulties she faced earlier in her career due to racism in Hollywood.
The former “Charlie’s Angels” star’s comments come as actor Thandie Newton spoke out about how she was initially cast in Liu’s role in the 2000 film, but pulled out due to what she described as the racist, objectifying vision of director Joseph McGinty Nichol and former Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal.
Liu said that when she was just starting out as an actor in Los Angeles, she struggled to get as many auditions as her white counterparts and had to work her way into rooms where no one else looked like her.
“I think I was just too naive and didn’t know what was ahead of me or what I was going to be up against,” she told the Sydney Morning Herald in a July 4 interview. “I had some idea when I got to L.A., because a friend of mine would have 10 auditions in a day or a week and I would have maybe two or three in a month, so I knew it was going to be much more limited for me.
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“But then I got really lucky with a few jobs, which put me in rooms for auditions where I looked like no other woman in the room. I thought, ‘I don’t even understand why I’m here, but I’m going to give it my all,’” said Liu.
“I think when you are somewhat the black sheep, you don’t really have anything to lose, because they are not necessarily looking for you. So you may as well go for it!”
Liu, 51, recently finished up a seven-season run as Dr. Joan Watson in the modern Sherlock Holmes update “Elementary,” which ran from 2012 up until last year. She’s now starring as a ’80s socialite in the CBS All Access series “Why Women Kill,” about three women across three different time periods and how they deal with their respective husbands’ infidelity.
Newton said that “Charlie’s Angels,” which initially helped to put Liu on the map, was “one of the biggest movies [she] didn’t end up doing.”
Speaking with Vulture, Newton explained her decision to pull out with an anecdote about helmer Nichol: “The director said to me, ‘I can’t wait for this. The first shot is going to be…You’re going to think it’s like yellow lines down a road, and you pull back and you realize it’s the stitching, because the denim is so tight on your ass it’s going to look like tarmac.’ I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t think we’re going to go down this road together.’”
The “Westworld” star continued with an anecdote about Pascal, saying the then-studio head told Newton that she didn’t mean to be “politically incorrect,” but she felt that Newton’s character needed to “get up on a [bar] table and start shaking her booty” in order to be “believable.”
Pascal has since issued a statement that neither she had “no recollection of the events” described by Newton but was “horrified” to hear the description and “takes her words seriously.”
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