Thandie Newton on Condoleezza Rice

British actress Thandie Newton tackles the role of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Oliver Stone's new semifictional biopic of U.S. President George W. Bush. Newton spoke with NEWSWEEK's Sophie Grove about the controversial role:

What did you know about Condi before you took the part?
I knew that she was secretary of state. I was intrigued by the fact that this was an African-American woman who had risen to an extremely powerful position. That was it.

How did you research the role?
I was in England, in my own vacuum of obsession. I got a lot of material from good, quality biographies. Then [I] spread the circle wider to American politics and the other members of the cabinet ... finally, [I got] really grubby on YouTube, finding people's little recordings on telephones, seeing her totally unrehearsed.

Is she superhuman?
Let's say extrahuman. She wakes up at four in the morning. She's running at 4:30 a.m. She pushes herself to the kind of maximum that most of us would never consider. She has discipline like no other person I've come across. [Except for] maybe Tom Cruise.

If you had a vote on Nov. 4, what would you do with it?
Obama in a second.