Ethan Hawke says he included Paul Newman’s heavy drinking in ‘The Last Movie Stars’ to show how he overcame his ‘demons’
“The Last Movie Stars” looks at the life and career of Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.
One of the most shocking aspects is the weight of Newman’s drinker.
“The guy drank a case of beer at dinner!” said director Ethan Hawke.
In HBO Max’s six-part documentary “The Last Movie Stars,” nothing is off limits as we look back on the life and careers of Paul Newman and his wife Joanne Woodward.
This includes Newman’s heavy drinking.
Newman is best known for starring in 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 a Hollywood icon until 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in “The Last Movie Stars,” which features actors like George Clooney and Laura Linney reading from transcripts of an unpublished memoir on Newman, the Oscar-winning legend had one major flaw when it came to of alcohol.
“Can you believe he looked like he was and was drinking that much?” Hawke spoke to Insider about Newman’s drinking. Throughout her career, Newman has never lost her matinee idol beauty.
However, the documentary shows that, back home, Newman’s constant drinking damaged his relationship with Woodward.
“It really broke up their marriage and I made a joke of it in the documentary that they came to a compromise that he would only drink beer from now on,” Hawke said, referring to an incident in the late 1970s when Woodward had Newman not allowed back into their home 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 into his performances, like in ‘Buffalo Bill,’ he only allows himself one drink at night so he pours himself this giant drink,” Hawke said, noting Robert’s 1976 film Altmann.
“It’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, revered as he was, was a work in progress.
“If you don’t have shadow, you don’t have light,” Hawke said. “What motivates this man? And in the transcripts of ‘The Verdict,’ he talks about the fact that a lot of us have demons.” In the 1982 film Sidney Lumet, 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 get out of it,” Hawke said.
All six parts of “The Last Movie Stars” are available now on HBO Max.
Read the original Insider article