Tessa Thompson Talks Holiday Gift Disasters, Golden Globes, and Westworld Teasers


Want to have a dance party? Tessa Thompson does.

The actress arrived at the famous Versace Mansion in a golden Marc Jacobs pouf, and she was ready to get down. It makes sense, since the Westworld star has a lot to celebrate: nabbing the lead in Men in Black International and Disney’s live-action Lady & the Tramp, and a global press tour for Creed II.

This week in Miami, she also hosted the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series finale, a party with truffle martinis and emerging visual artists.

It was great; Tessa’s great; here’s the proof.


Tessa Thompson hosts the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series finale

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What do your fans want to talk with you about?

They’re lovely! Honestly. They’re just enthusiastic with the things they’ve seen me in, and they usually want to take a photo. Generally, they want to talk about Westworld and get me to spill some hints about what’s happening next season. But it’s not just random people. Even friends of mine do that!

Is it hard to keep Westworld secrets from your friends?

It’s actually sometimes the opposite. I’ll talk to my friends and want to talk about work, like if something funny or tiring that happened to me on set that day. They’ll be like, “I love you but I can’t know what’s happening—don’t tell me anything!” So it goes both ways.


Thompson (Charlotte Hale) in Westworld with Ed Harris (The Man in Black)


As an actress, you are probably uniquely skilled at pretending to like a holiday present. What’s your advice for the rest of us?

Nobody’s ever asked me that before, and you’re making me realize that I’ve kind of lucked out. My family and friends are really good at gifts. We’re not big shoppers in my family—my parents make stuff instead. My dad will take a found photograph and frame it; my mom is this incredible artist who can weave things and make things by hand. Everything she does is really beautiful. I’m lucky in my family, but…yeah, okay, I’ll tell you: I’ve been given a couple questionable purses. I look at them and think, “Okay, can I make this work? What can I try?” …. It’s a very nice gesture, but not for me. But, you know, you can still be grateful for a gift even if you don’t like it. I think saying “Thank you” sincerely isn’t dependent on the gift. It’s about the effort and the thought. You can always be real about that.

Have you ever given a gift that maybe needed work?

I made coffee-sugar body scrub a few years ago, and, uh…it went okay? I feel like if I make it again, I’ll need to grind it up a little more. It was too coarse, and putting it in jars got really messy. It smelled really good, but—I mean, have you ever tried to wash that stuff in a sink or a bathtub? How do you get it out? I think I need to leave it to the professionals next time. But it was very fun to play at being crafty.


With actress Sasha Lane at the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series finale

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Do you get gifts for your co-stars?

Sure! I started in the theater, it’s such a big tradition to give opening and closing night gifts.

What’s the last gift you gave to my boyfriend?

Which one is your boyfriend? Let me guess…

Michael B. Jordan!

Oh yeah! Of course! [Laughing.] I gave him a really beautiful art book about boxers and Muhammad Ali. It was a gorgeous book.

Does he give good gifts?

I really liked his gift to me! We have an ongoing joke between us and his gift to me was based on the joke. It was a jar full of pennies. Hundreds of them. And I was like, “Wow, this is incredibly thoughtful. This is a great gift.” I was very impressed. It took a lot of effort.

Can you tell us what the joke is?

Nope. I can’t do that.

Michael B. Jordan (Adonis) and Tessa Thompson (Bianca) in Creed II

Michael B. Jordan and Thompson in Creed II

Barry Wetcher

You’re in the middle of the Creed II press tour, and soon it’ll be awards season. Do you enjoy typical red carpet questions about fashion, or would you rather talk about other things?

In a moment of celebration, we should talk about how no women directors are nominated for Golden Globes. These spaces are not as inclusive as they ought to be and we should talk about that. And if I’m asked a question, I’m going to be honest and say that whenever I can. But I think people should talk about fashion, because fashion can be so meaningful, too. It’s created by artists just like movies are, and it should be honored. Do I think it should be your only question? No. Do I think it should be your first question? Not really, unless I’m wearing something as voluminous as this Marc Jacobs outfit, in which case, I totally understand. Then your first question should probably be about Marc Jacobs.


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