The actor Thandiwe Newton has denied reports that she was fired from the new Magic Mike film after an argument over Will Smith with co-star Channing Tatum.
Newton has said that she left the film after 11 days of shooting in London of her own volition.
“Thandiwe Newton has made the difficult decision to step away from the production of Warner Bros Pictures’ Magic Mike’s Last Dance to deal with family matters,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
Representatives for the actor called reports that she had been fired by Tatum, who is also a producer on the film, “completely inaccurate”.
The report, which first surfaced in the Sun, suggested that Tatum and Newton had fallen out when discussing the incident at the Oscars last month in which Smith slapped Chris Rock on stage, following a joke that had been made about his wife’s bald head (Jada Pinkett Smith has alopecia).
A source called the disagreement a “confrontation” and added that Tatum had said: “I am not working with her any more.”
Salma Hayek will take over Newton’s role.
Magic Mike’s Last Dance sees a return for Tatum to the role of male stripper Mike Lane, as well as a return to the franchise for the original’s director, Steven Soderbergh, who exited for the second film.
The two films have made over $300m at the global box office. A lucrative stage spin-off, Magic Mike Live, has had shows in Las Vegas, London, Berlin and Australia.
Speaking to People magazine, Tatum expressed the hope the new film would be like “the Super Bowl of stripping”, with a much higher quality of routines than previously seen.
He also described the films as “very, very female-forward” and stressed the importance for him of a strong female lead.
“I want to have an equal, if not even more centralised female character for Mike to really play off of and almost to … I don’t want to say, [to have her] take the baton, but really let the movie be about a female’s experience and not Mike’s experience, because it has been so much about Mike and the guys’ experiences.”
Newton is currently starring opposite Chris Pine in Amazon hit All the Old Knives.
This article was amended on 14 April 2022. An earlier version said Chris Rock made a joke “about” Jada Pinkett Smith’s alopecia. Pinkett Smith has been public about her diagnosis but it remains unclear whether Rock knew she had this condition.