Thandie Newton Still Standing After Hurricane Craig – The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson March 26, 2008Wednesday, March 26th, 2008
Thandie Newton is tiny. You may not think so, when she’s paired with vertically challenged leading men like Tom Cruise, but she is a mere slip of a thing, which became apparent when she walked onto the set of The Late Late Show. Yet diminutive as she is, she was almost big enough to stand up to the comic onslaught that is Craig Ferguson. You have to throw out some of the usual talk show rules when dealing with Craig, whose inventive mind and natural-amphetamine bloodstream keep quips flying at supersonic speeds. Perhaps that’s why the producers chose to show her clip from Run Fatboy Run before Thandie came out: any clip would have fallen flat had it been shown after the whirlwind Craig put Newton through.
Considering what she was up against, Thandie played this situation beautifully. Rather than coming on as a performer, she showed up as the witty and accommodating guest – sophisticated, but unafraid of dropping the occasional rude bomb about plastic surgery. Although she was hardly shy and certainly vocal, she wisely refused to play competitively with Craig. Instead she raised the game of reacting to an art form, amplifying the impact of her host’s humor and winning the admiration of the audience at the same time. She treated Craig like one would handle a rambunctious and outrageous friend, both calling him on his naughtiness and surrendering to the fun of it. When he launched a running gag on Tom Cruise’s height, she gently slapped him down while still going with the laughs. A splendid balancing act that demonstrated some of the ruling principles of guest-dom: research your host well, but remain flexible so you can steer with the prevailing winds. Remember that there is more than one way to make a good impression.