Watching her on the red carpet, it’s hard to imagine there was ever a time when Thandie Newton wasn’t seen as one of the most beautiful actresses to grace the big screen. But in a recent interview, Thandie opened up on how her insecurities as a teenager caused her heartache at the hands of an older man.

Speaking to InStyle magazine, the actress and Olay spokeswoman opened up about an affair she had with a John Duigan, a Hollywood director 23 years her senior. According to Thandie, the six year affair began when she was just 16. At the time the met, the young actress was auditioning for a role in the movie, Flirting, which starred Nicole Kidman.

Saying she was taken advantage of by the older Duigan, Thandie says her 16 year old self was too young to fully have an equal say in the relationship.

‘I was a very shy, very sweet girl. I wasn’t in control of the situation. Would I have liked things to be different? Sure.’

Still, she does not regret the experience saying to some extend it growing past it has helped her become stronger:

‘But I can now value myself more for the way I got through it. I don’t see myself as a victim. Part of me feels grateful I can accept the difficulties that came with that situation and be a more compassionate person myself.’


Often reclusive and shy when it comes to talking about her private life, Thandie says she decided to open up about the affair ‘so teenagers can see they can resist and gain self-awareness’.

When she was asked whether or not she considered pursuing legal action against Duigan, Thandie said:

‘I am my own supreme court. I judge that one. And in a strict legal way there might not be a case.’

Thandie opening up resonates with many women who can see a piece of their story in her own. For many teenagers, falling for an older man and carrying out a relationship with him can prove a confusing and overwhelming experience. Often times, it is only in looking back, do women see the emotional distance and maturity difference that may often contributed to manipulative or destructive partnerships. Still many believe that if they are mature enough, a young woman who consents to a relationship with an older man can have a viable and healthy relationship.

What are your thoughts on Thandie opening up on dating an older man while still a teenager? Can healthy relationships form given the age gap or are the old-young pairings doomed from the start? Tell us what you think Clutchettes- share your thoughts!

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  • Culturally Aware

    I believe there are other underlying issues that Thandie had at the time when she was involved with a 39 year old man when she was 16. She was probably responsible for herself…she is originally from South Africa right? her parents probably wasn’t even around. She was probably free to do what she wanted. She just broke into the industry at that time and we don’t know if her parents even were aware of this relationship. 16 year old hide things and do things without their parents knowledge. I was 16 once too! We can’t blame the parents…because parents cannot have their child under lock and key 24/7. The 39 year old man should be ashamed of himself…yes, but unfortunately, things like this happen daily and sometimes parents can’t stop these relationships from happening because they don’t know. It’s not because the parents are irresponsible and lazy…but because kids hide things from their parents all the time. Teens are pros at being wolves in sheeps clothing.

    • Cleo

      Thandie Newton is British she was born in London while her parents were on vacation there, her mother is Zimbabwean and her father is a white Brit, her parents were around and are still together, and she split her time between both countries but lives and was educated mostly in London.

      I find it rather appalling not to mention incredibly disgusting that you’ve tried to shift the blame onto a 16 year old that was taken advantage of when she went to audition for her first (which is important to the context) part in a film. I suggest you seek help. Ugh!

  • Kit

    I don’t know. Maybe she was responsible for herself and didn’t have much input from the parents at that stage, but this is exactly the point. Her parents should have had more of a presence in her life at a time when she was naive, impressionable and trying to make a name for herself in her career. Maybe if they had been more present she wouldn’t have been looking for love from a man more than twice her age.

  • Kaye

    I so remember being this age and being attracted to a man who was in his 40s. And yes, she and I were legal thank you. For me, it didn’t go any further, but I’m happy to see she’s at peace with herself. Also, re. the generalization on age gaps, how incredibly provincial and narrow-minded. So if I fall for a guy who is seven years older/youngr than me I should ditch him cuz we’re not the same age? If only the heart worked that way. Get a grip.

  • Cleo

    I dated a guy that was 10 years older than me starting when I was 18, and truth be told, if his brother hadn’t warned him away from me he may not have waited that long seeing as I had known him since I was about 15. It was on and off for 8 really fucked up years until the moment when I realised I really and truly without reserve, hated him and when he told me that he could never see me as more than a little girl (which creeped me out to no end), so I left and I’ve never spoken to him since. But I must say for a while there he imprinted on me because looking back at it, I can see now that I dated mainly guys that were like him in some way, be it manner of dress, personality or whatever. I’m sorry 18 may legally be an adult, but in no way is an 18 (for the most part) ready such an adult relationship, that shit is child abuse.