- “The Last Movie Stars” looks at the lives and careers of Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.
- One of the most shocking parts is how heavy of a drinker Newman was.
- “The guy drank a case of beer at dinner!” director Ethan Hawke said.
In the six-part HBO Max documentary “The Last Movie Stars,” nothing is off limits when looking back on the lives and careers of Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.
That includes Newman’s heavy drinking.
Newman is known best for being the star of classic movies like “The Hustler,” “Cool Hand Luke,” and “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” That, along with being married to Woodward since the late 1950s, made him out to be a Hollywood icon all the way up to his death in 2008.
But, as director Ethan Hawke shows in “The Last Movie Stars,” which features actors like George Clooney and Laura Linney reading transcripts from an unpublished memoir on Newman, the Oscar-winning legend had a major vice when it came to alcohol.
“Can you believe he looked the way he did and drank that much?” Hawke said to Insider about Newman’s drinking. Throughout his career, Newman never lost his matinee-idol good looks.
However, the documentary shows that, back at home, Newman’s constant drinking took a toll on his relationship with Woodward.
“It really did break up their marriage and I make a joke about it in the documentary that they come to a compromise that he’ll only drink beer from now on,” Hawke said, referring to an incident in the late 1970s when Woodward did not allow Newman back in their house because of his drinking.
Eventually Woodward let him back in after Newman promised to give up hard liquor.
“But the guy drank a case of beer at dinner!” Hawke said.
“He puts his drinking in his performances, like in ‘Buffalo Bill,’ he only allows himself one drink at night so he pours himself this giant drink,” Hawke said, noting the 1976 Robert Altman movie.
“That’s totally taken from Paul’s life,” Hawke said. “He was a restless soul and I think in some ways he was dampening his own restlessness.”
Hawke said the reason he put Newman’s drinking in the documentary was less for the gossip factor and more to show that even Newman, as revered as he was, was a work-in-progress.
“If you don’t have shadow you don’t have light,” Hawke said. “What is driving this man? And in the transcripts about ‘The Verdict’ he talks about how lots of us have demons.” In the 1982 Sidney Lumet movie, Newman plays a lawyer with a drinking problem.
“The people I admire the most are the ones who overcome their demons and work with them and that’s what I take from it,” Hawke said.
All six parts of “The Last Movie Stars” are available now on HBO Max.
Read the original article on Insider