English actress Thandie Newton does a number of things to be eco-conscious, from supporting community services to empowering her kids to be aware. "We have good recycling in our neighborhood in London. At the school my kids go to, they're constantly planting, they have a little farm. It's something that's very much part of their education," she says. At home, she bathes with her daughters sometimes, saving the bathwater to do her hand laundry, and makes sure her girls turn off the tap when they're brushing their teeth.
But Newton ran into trouble some years ago when she bought a BMW on the advice of her business manager, and one day found a Greenpeace sticker on it with statistics about energy waste and emissions. "I felt really ashamed but also grateful. I switched my car for a Prius the following week." After telling the story in an interview, Greenpeace got in touch to verify it and asked her to be part of a campaign. "I wrote to 60 celebrities suggesting they swap out the cars they had, but got not one response. Maybe it had some effect, I don't know, but it seems more people are seeing the benefit of hybrid and electric cars. Even though they're bad in the short term — the way they're made produces emissions — they're good over the long term."
Newton spent several months in Vancouver filming her DirecTV series "Rogue," and was glad to see green practices in place including plentiful recycling bins and water coolers to refill personal canteens instead of plastic bottles. "It's a very environmentally conscious and aware community, and the production was in keeping with that."
"Rogue," DirecTV's first original series, is set in Oakland, Calif., and premieres April 3. Newton plays a fierce, single-minded undercover detective who disobeys orders and continues her dangerous relationship with mobsters in order to solve the murder of her son. She first became interested three years ago, when "Rogue" was a three-part BBC project set in London. She liked it even more when it crossed the pond and expanded to 10 episodes.
"What I loved before just got 10 times better because we had longer to develop it and explore the character," she says.
The uncensored series has some explicit scenes (and language), but Newton feels "it all makes sense in terms of the narrative. Sex wasn't just sex, it was grief and desperation, two people literally clawing onto each other, the desperation of two people who have lost a child." That loss, and her guilt over it, "is the real driver of the whole piece. The fight to discover the truth is keeping her son alive and present in her."
If "Rogue" is picked up, "the second season renews and refreshes the show in another direction. Every season will be a stand-alone thriller," promises creator Matthew Parkhill. Meanwhile, Newton will be seen later this year in "Half of a Yellow Sun," a movie based on a novel set in Nigeria in 1968. "It's about the Biafran War. I play a young woman who's from the elite in Nigeria, from the Ibo tribe, who falls in love with a revolutionary played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, who is very much left wing who wants independence for the Biafran state," she describes. "It traces their relationship. It's really powerful and emotional."