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The 26-year-old actress is also an accomplished golfer who helped her Notre Dame High School team win three championships. Though she turned down an opportunity to play for USC in favor of buffing an enviable résumé that includes Big Little Lies, Ben Is Back, Blockers and Freaky, Newton returns to the links as often as possible.
With a break in her schedule, she’s set to compete at a series of high-profile tournaments, including the Omega Masters in Switzerland (Aug. 31 to Sept. 3), BMW Wentworth Championship in London (Sept. 12), the Ryder Cup in Rome on behalf of the PGA & European Tour (Sept. 22) and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in Scotland (Oct. 12).
“With this downtime, I immediately was like, ‘Wow, I get to go back to my roots,’ ” Newton said over Zoom from Switzerland. “I get to go back to this other person who also exists and has this cool thing she likes to do.”
You’re in Switzerland preparing for the Omega Masters. First of all, how does it feel to be able to golf right now?
It’s something that I’m very lucky to be able to do during this time. It keeps me grounded and gives me a lot of confidence. I love J. Lindeberg and Omega, and to be here at the Masters with them is so much fun. I am getting to reunite with some players that I’ve played with in the past, like Matt Wallace, a pro I played with at the Dunhill Links Championship in St. Andrews, Scotland.
After that event, I was announced as one of the official ambassadors for the R&A — the Royal and Ancient Golf Club. It was founded in 1754 in Scotland and if you look at the old course on a map, there’s a little clubhouse that looks like a castle. It’s the actual clubhouse, and one of my life goals is to be a member there. I was among the first women to be invited into the clubhouse. Annika Sörenstam is a member. It’s a huge honor to be a part of that and so it’s cool for me to be here and just trying my best to spread my love of the game.
Where were you when the strike was called?
I was in Ireland filming, which was a great place to be working because I got to play golf on the weekends with our producer [William Sherak], who is also a golf fanatic. I give so much to acting — I give it everything — and it becomes who are you. It’s nice to realize that my identity can be more than just being an actor. I can also give everything to this sport that I love, and now I have a chance to do that. The truth is, every time I commit to a golf tournament, I’m unable to play due to filming. Now I have no excuse. I’m going to the Ryder Cup this year, and I cannot wait for that. I’ve been invited through Ralph Lauren in the past. It only happens every two years and the last time I was invited, I was filming Ant-Man. With all this downtime, I immediately thought, wow, I get to go back to my roots and I get to go back to this person who also exists and has this cool thing she likes to do.
How do you support that person when you are working?
It’s kind of been my best-kept secret. If you look at most of my credits, golf is somehow always there in the backdrop. I used a 7 iron to escape in Paranormal 4. We got to play minigolf with Jensen Ackles on Supernatural. It’s kind of in everything that I do. When I was 11 years old, I was on a sitcom called Gary Unmarried. When I was testing on it, I initially said no to the audition because I was going to go to Pinehurst in North Carolina to play in a kids’ U.S. Open Championship. But they waited for me and when I went to do the test, Jim Burrows, the director, kept asking me all these questions about golf. I think that’s why I got the job. Later, we did an episode where my character, Louise Brooks, turns out to be a phenomenal golfer.
How else has it helped you in your career?
It helped me with being an athlete in working on a Marvel movie, and just helped me be an athlete on sets in general. I’ve always had a lot of stamina and always been really healthy. Golf can be great not just for physical health but for mental health as well. That’s why I think golf is such a cool sport because you don’t have to be super fit to play it, and you can just go play nine holes with your friends. You can go play 18 on a weekend. It’s a great way to get out there wherever you’re filming or wherever you’re working. And if you’re out on a golf course, people are usually pretty nice so you’re going to meet some great people.
I definitely wish I had more of a killer instinct. Let’s just say I have a lot of second place trophies because I was more interested in being friends than winning. But it’s helped me a lot because acting is very subjective. If you’re working at all, you’re very lucky and you’re probably a good actor. In golf, you either win or you lose and no one can take it from you. Even with the pros, they start over again next week and everyone is back to ground zero. There’s something really humbling about that. The grind never stops. It’s the same in life. You reach a certain level in your career or in your life and you have to keep working. You have to stay inspired, you have to get bigger goals and dream bigger. My favorite thing about my love of the game is that all it takes is one great shot and I feel amazing and I want to do it again.
When was that last great shot for you?
My last great shot was at the Liverpool Open on the 18th hole. I holed out from a bunker. That’s how golf is — you think you’re done and then all of a sudden you do something amazing. Just like life. It just keeps getting better. You have to keep dreaming.
Have you thought about how your life would have turned out had you chosen golf over Hollywood?
I feel like I never had to give up on either one. People ask me that a lot, and I feel like I’ve done a really good thing of proving that you don’t ever have to quit something that you love. But being a pro takes a lot more work than I have the ability to really commit. But I’ve done a really good job of keeping it in my life, still playing at a good, high level and bringing awareness to the game. I can do more for the game as someone who loves it than if I were a pro, because I have more time to be an advocate for it than someone who’s actually playing professionally every day.
You’ve worked with a lot of great people in your career. Have you discovered any actors who golf that you didn’t know about or become friends with any actor friends on the course?
Yes! This is why I want people to learn because so many people play and it’s helped me so much. I’ve been an actress since I was 4 years old, growing up on sets with a bunch of older men. What am I going to talk about when I’m 12 years old? We always had a common ground with golf. We could talk about the pros that were playing or talk about my golf game or their golf game. It opened a lot of doors for me. Even if you don’t have something in common with someone, you can go out and play golf and it’s the same course and you will learn a lot about the person. When I was filming Ant-Man, Michael Douglas and I talked about going to go play but it was raining that day. Maybe one day we will and it will be a blast.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 6 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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