New shots of Newton as the Egyptian queen cause quite a stir in England

By Tim Nudd
Updated April 13, 2010 09:15 AM
Credit: Everett; Virgin Media

It takes guts – and some serious good looks – to portray Cleopatra, the most beautiful woman in history. But Thandie Newton is up for a challenge, and the sexy new photos of her as the Egyptian queen are giving Elizabeth Taylor a run for her money.

Newton, 37, appears as Cleopatra in a series of striking black-and-white shots that have the British press buzzing – she “smolders,” says the Daily Mail – and invite comparisons to Taylor’s classic 1963 portrayal, which set the standard.

Alas, Newton isn’t doing a Cleopatra movie – the photos are merely promotional materials for a film competition called Virgin Media Shorts. (Ms. Taylor is no doubt breathing a sigh of relief.) Still, we have to ask: