“The Last Movie Stars” is a fascinating 6-part documentary on HBO Max.
Beginning Thursday (July 21), stream, it documents Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s decades-long careers — and partnerships, as spouses and actors.
Ethan Hawkes is the director. Paul and Joanne’s youngest daughter, Clea, recommended him for the job.
He had great material to work with: transcripts from 1991 interviews Newman commissioned, with fellow actors, directors, even his first wife. He wanted a record to show that his life had not been charmed; that not everything came easily.
The interviews were taped. But Newman later destroyed the tapes at “the dump” — presumably, the one right here in Westport.
I learned all that, and much more, from a 10-minute preview today on “CBS Sunday Morning.” Ben Mankiewicz gives viewers a thorough look into the series. It includes mentions of the couple’s professional and personal difficulties, and Newman’s drinking,
But it also mentions their astonishing philanthropy (they gave away between $800 million and $1 billion, Clea estimates), and their deep love for each other. It grew even stronger after Woodward’s dementia diagnosis and — 10 days later — Newman’s own, of terminal cancer.
For decades, people here thought of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward not as Hollywood stars, but as Westport neighbors.
“The Last Movie Stars” will show the rest of the country why we were so glad they were here. (Click below for the “CBS Sunday Morning” story. Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)