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Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, 50 years of love and artistic commitment


Ethan Hawke presents in Cannes the series 'The Last Movie Stars' about half a century of life together of the two stars, their passion for acting and their problems off the screen

There was a time when there were no two stars bigger than them.

Paul Newman shone in Hollywood, and Joanne Woodward was revered by her peers.

Decades have passed, although the following generations have not forgotten them and proof of this is

The Last Movie Stars,

a documentary series by CNN Films and HBO Max directed by Ethan Hawke, and whose third and fourth chapters were presented yesterday at sunset by the same Hawke in the Cannes Classics section of the French festival.

More information

The legacy of Paul Newman

The common life of Newman (Shaker Heights, Ohio, 1925 - West Port, Connecticut, 2008) and Woodward (Thomasville, Georgia, 92 years old) was not a bed of roses;

What's more, Newman's alcoholism and some infidelity were about to capsize the marriage.

However, as the series explains, they respected each other professionally and personally in such a way that there was never any jealousy on the set or sentimental trompe l'oeil.

From Newman came the famous sentence “Why would I want to eat a hamburger in the street if a steak is waiting for me at home?”, which Woodward hated, as heard in

The Last Movie Stars:

“Apart from the fact that I am a vegetarian, every time I I hear she would hit him.”

For Hawke, as he told the gala session of his series in Cannes, “Newman and Woodward's 50-year love is also the reflection of half a century of great cinema.

They had a huge race.

They cared a lot about his legacy.

They loved each other, cared for each other and had fun and were awarded here as best actor and actress.

This festival occupied a gigantic part of his artistic life and, therefore, being here means a lot to us”.

They met in classes at the Actor's Studio, where, Hawke insisted emphatically, "they had as classmates Marlon Brando, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe...".

Hawke recalled Elia Kazan's statement that if Brando was the greatest, Newman was the hardest worker.

And the actor confessed his first memory of Newman: “My personal history with Newman starts on a strange Sunday.

That day we always went to church, I hated it as much as my stepmother liked it.

I was ten years old when one Sunday she got sick and on the way to the parish my father asked me if we would skip mass and go to the movies to see a morning show of

Two Men and a Destiny.

So it was


Ethan Hawke, on the red carpet in Cannes, on Saturday afternoon. Daniel Cole (AP)

The series has been born from exceptional material.

At the end of his life, Newman decided to write a memoir and for this he interviewed dozens of colleagues and friends.

During the process of collecting the material, he repented of the book and burned the recordings, although the transcripts were saved and remained in the hands of the family.

The youngest daughter, Clea, contacted Hawke and gave him access to all the material.

Hence one of the most debatable aspects of the series: these texts are read by actors such as George Clooney (voices Newman), Laura Linney (Woodward), Zoe Kazan (Jackie Witte, Newman's first wife) or Sam Rockwell (Stuart Rosenberg, the director of

The Legend of the

Good and

A Man of Today).

As the montage was made at the beginning of the pandemic, Hawke chats with his colleagues by Zoom, and that visually detracts from the result.

On screen, the immersion in the couple's lives reveals their drive to go further artistically and Woodward's to create a true home with the three children from Newman's first marriage (Scott, the oldest and only man, he died of a drug overdose in 1978 at the age of 28) and the three daughters they had in common;

Paul Newman explains on screen that his offspring would probably inscribe on his tombstone "here lies a father who should have spent more time with his children."

There is also space to describe his horrible relationship with his mother, Theresa Gart, an oppressive woman who did not understand that her young son did not take over her husband's sports equipment store when he died, and that instead he dedicated himself to to a profession that he described as “pornography”.

One Christmas in New York, the mother told Newman that she understood that Woodward disliked her because she knew she had slept with Gore Vidal.

Newman opened the car door, forced her to get out, and they didn't speak for 15 years.

From the feelings provoked by that confrontation, Rosenberg points out, is born the devastating moment in which the protagonist of

The Legend of the Indomitable

learns of the death of his mother and sings in the

Plastic Jesus

prison barracks with a banjo.

Woodward and Newman in 1959, when they had been married for a year. Photo: Getty Images

Of course,

The Last Movie Stars

also talks about cinema.

Woodward was the first actress to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, though for years her career was overshadowed by the brilliance of her husband.

The importance for Newman (half-Jewish) of appearing in

Exodus is underlined in the episodes screened at Cannes.

Director Martin Ritt talks about an actor who was very picky about scripts, who knew what he was talking about: he worked with him and Woodward in

The Long Hot Summer,

and he directed Newman in

Hud, the wildest of a thousand


one men.

His relationship with Robert Redford, of respect and affection, is also drawn.

On screen, Newman confesses in an old interview that it was Woodward who thought of Redford as a co-star in

Two Men and One Fate.

His interpretation of the card game is praised

, with the character of Newman apparently drunk at the beginning of

The Heist.

The director Newman appears in those chapters, at least his first three films:

Rachel, Rachel


Invincible Breed

(1970) and

The effect of gamma rays on daisies


With this, Woodward won the award for best actress at Cannes, a festival that in 2013 used their kiss in


(1963) – they made 11 films together – for the poster of that edition.

2013 Cannes poster.

The effect of the gamma ray on the daisies

caused tension in the marriage, since Woodward hated that character and even more so that one of his on-screen daughters, Newman decided, would be embodied by his own daughter Nell.

They are also years of alcoholism for the actor, born of fear and doubt, and the couple's daughters speak of it openly.

Therefore, the fourth episode is titled

Paying the Price.

Hawke, who insists on vindicating Woodward,

Almost unknown to today's moviegoers.

He has not been able to talk to her, since he suffers from Alzheimer's.

Over the years, Newman, a Democrat, became more and more politically involved (his daughters define him more as a liberal, that is, conservative personally and more to the left socially) until he became Nixon's 19th enemy — that he was proud of—and an activist alongside Woodward against the Vietnam War, as was made clear by his involvement in Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign. And that's why he accepted


A Man of Today (WUSA)

, about the rise of a far-right radio host.

A movie disaster, although as heard on the screen, "if you're going to crash, crash like a beast".

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman, in an image from the documentary 'The Last Movie Stars'.

Last night Hawke ended his presentation with a great message: “Exploring Woodward and Newman through their love story has turned out to be more rewarding than I imagined.

Their interpretive work, their philanthropy and their personal lives serve as a kind of pole star, a guide to what a meaningful life can be.”

Source: elparis

All life articles on 2022-05-22

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