Thandie Newton this year joins the list of film actresses who have made the jump to series television, a magical land where quality roles for female leads seem to be less of a needle in a haystack.
A-list talent like Glenn Close (“Damages”) and Holly Hunter (Sundance Channel’s “Top of the Lake”) have praised the bigger character arcs of television roles and the longer time afforded to bring more nuance to a character.
Newton, whose film credits include “Beloved,” Mission: Impossible II,” “Crash” and “For Colored Girls,”premieres Wednesday (April 3) in DirecTV’s new original series “Rogue.”
“I was really keen to work on a TV show. I felt frustrated by the stunted nature of sort of adult drama, the characters that I was portraying,” the British actress told us during interviews for the series. “I really wanted to work on something that had more of an arc, more complexity, and I think the best adult drama is in television these days.”
Thandie Newton as Grace Travis in a scene from “Rogue”
Newton, 40, plays Grace Travis, an undercover detective embedded for months with a crime syndicate she suspects has a hand in the killing of her son.
When the crime boss discovers Grace’s true identity, through his mole in the police department, he offers to spare Grace’s life and help her find her son’s killer, but only if she helps him uncover a traitor in his organization. It’s a deal she can’t refuse, just as the series was an opportunity Newton couldn’t pass up.
“A couple of years before ‘Rogue’ as you see it in this incarnation, I read a script written by Matthew[Parkhill], which was the series written in three parts for the BBC, and I was really keen to be involved,” recalled Newton. “It was a fantastic story. The character is very compelling, and it’s one of the most interesting roles I’ve ever played, and I think possibly the best work I’ve ever done, which is great 20 years in.
The BBC three-parter never happened, but two years later, the script ended up with execs at DirecTV, who decided to develop the series for its satellite service and move its setting from London to Oakland, California.
Below, Newton says it didn’t really matter where the show was set.
“Rogue” premieres Wednesday, April 3, on DirecTV’s Audience Network.