Nia Long Told She Was 'Too Old' for Charlie's Angels, Which She Thinks Was Code for 'Too Black'
Nia Long says she auditioned for a role in the 2000 film, which ultimately ended up going to Lucy Liu
Nia Long is shedding some light on her casting experience with Charlie’s Angels, and why she didn’t end up landing a role in the 2000 film.
In an interview with Insider, the Fatal Affair actress, 49, said that she auditioned for the lead role of Alex Munday, but was told by her agent that she didn’t get the part because she “looked too old” to act alongside Drew Barrymore, who is four years younger than Long.
"I was like, 'What?'" the actress said. "I love Drew Barrymore, I think she's amazing, but I think that was just a nice way to say you're a little too Black. Personally, that's what I think. Because if you notice there were no brown skin [actors]. I mean, honestly, I would have been the blackest thing in the film."
The role of the private investigator ended up going to Lucy Liu, who is two years older than Long.
"The feedback that I received from my agent was, 'She just looked too old and sophisticated to be next to Drew Barrymore,'" Long continued. "And I'm thinking to myself, it's an actor's choice to walk in the room how they want to look, but it's a director's vision to help create and curate a character. So if you couldn't see beyond the fact that I had on a blazer and a pair of jeans then that was clearly not the job and opportunity for me. So, no problem, I'll keep it moving."
Earlier this month, Thandie Newton also shared an experience she had during the casting process, explaining that although she had been approached about starring in the blockbuster, she turned down the role following a series of uncomfortable meetings.
“One of the biggest movies I didn’t end up doing was because 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,” Newton, 47, said in a Vulture profile, recalling a conversation with director Joseph McGinty Nichol.
Newton also had a meeting with then-head of Sony Pictures Amy Pascal, who the actress claims made several racially stereotyped suggestions on how to make her character "believable."
“She’s basically reeling off these stereotypes of how to be more convincing as a Black character,” Newton said. “Everything she said, I was like, ‘Nah, I wouldn’t do that.’ She’s like, ‘Yeah, but you’re different. You’re different.’ That was Amy Pascal. That’s not really a surprise, is it? Let’s face it: I didn’t do the movie as a result.” (Pascal later stepped down from her position in 2015 after emails leaked in which she discussed whether then-President Barack Obama preferred movies with Black casts.)
In a statement to Vulture, Pascal said she did not recall the meeting and was "horrified to hear" Newton's description.
Besides Barrymore and Liu, Charlie’s Angels went on to star Cameron Diaz. Long's new film, Fatal Attraction, is now streaming on Netflix.