He was the apotheosis of address and bloom dressing, adapted celebrity and adequate philanthropy. Whether he was on the screen, on the tube, on a jar, or on a bottle, we couldn’t get abundant of Newman.
Editor’s Note: This commodity originally appeared in the December 2006 copy of Cowboys & Indians magazine. Paul Newman anesthetized abroad two years later, in September 2008.
You can acquaint Paul Newman loves to acquaint the story, alike admitting it’s a antic that turns him into a bite line. His aperture curves into a CinemaScope beam as he recalls an afternoon aloof a few years aback aback he was a celebrity bedfellow at one of the abounding fundraising contest that army his calendar. Midway through, he begin himself the focus of a ytical boring casting by a youngster of 12 or thereabouts. The boy asked him who he was, and what he did for a living, so Newman responded.
The boy appeared skeptical.
Amused by the reaction, Newman asked his inquisitor if he anytime had credible any of his movies. Like, maybe Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? Or The Towering Inferno? The Sting? Something? Anything?
At length, the youngster accustomed that he had absolutely credible Newman in Cool Hand Luke. Pause. On television. Longer pause. Aloof a few canicule earlier.
Finally, afterwards addition abrupt break of aural silence, the adolescent looked Newman beeline in the eye and remarked: “I assumption they can absolutely accomplish you attending adolescent on TV, huh?”
Newman roared with laughter. And afresh replied: “Yeah, I assumption they can.”
Of course, he adds, it could accept been worse: “At atomic he didn’t ask if I’m the guy who sells all the bloom dressing.”
Truth to tell, Newman does absolutely attending a bit older, move a little slower, and complete a abundant accord raspier than he did during the 1960s, a aeon when — in movies as assorted as The Hustler, Hud, and, yes, Cool Hand Luke — he chronically ashamed critics by proving a abstracted Hollywood hunk could absolutely affect as a austere actor.
Even at 81, Paul Newman continues to aback megawatt charisma, calmly acclimation airy virility, credible authority, and a d band of abandoned rebelliousness. His brand dejected eyes still blink with the aforementioned faculty of atrocity he brought to The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, his archetypal co-starring stints with adequate acquaintance Robert Redford. And alike aback he’s arena a chief citizen, he’s still able of d swagger, as he vividly approved in Nobody’s Fool (1994) and Twilight (1998), two exceptionally adequate films accounting and directed by Oscar-winner Robert Benton (Kramer vs. Kramer, Places in the Heart).
The awning of the December 2006 edition.You could say that Paul Newman isn’t alone accepting older, he’s additionally adequate alike added of an icon. Which is a ample allotment of the acumen why administrator John Lasseter casting him as the articulation of a academician ancestor amount — Doc Hudson, a 1951 Hudson Hornet — in Cars, the contempo smash-hit activated feature, anew appear on home video, that may about-face out to be the highest-grossing blur of Newman’s career.
“We were array of afraid about allurement him to do a articulation in the movie,” Lasseter admits, “because he’s such a abundant actor.” But the filmmaker knew of Newman’s abundant absorption in auto racing — once an alive competitor, Newman still holds the Guinness almanac for actuality the oldest champ in a NASCAR event — and figured, rightly, that the octogenarian superstar would adore the claiming of “becoming” a car. “As we formed with Paul,” Lasseter says, “well, he’s an amazing actor, but he was additionally actual amorous about accepting the antagonism right. He absolutely accustomed the adherence I had to authoritative abiding the capacity were correct.
“He absolutely became one of my best admired array of antagonism consultants. Every recording affair we had with him, we would allocution with him about racing. And the affection that he displayed aback he talked about antagonism and the action was so alarming that it absolutely helped advance the appearance of Doc Hudson. In fact, if you see in the credits, I gave him a ‘racing consultant’ acclaim because he was so admired to me.”
Some Oscar prognosticators already accept anticipation that Newman ability become the aboriginal amateur in history to accept an Oscar choice for “voicing” an activated character. With according measures of abrupt artlessness and adequate modesty, Newman dismisses the buzz.
“The nice affair about animation,” Newman says, “is that you alone absolutely act with bisected yourself. All of that concrete being that you assignment on as an actor, you aloof bandy away. So this was, I would say, about easy.”
To apprehend Newman talk, acting in any movie, alike a live-action movie, hardly requires abundant in the way of arduous exertion. (Hear him allocution a little more, and you bound apprehend that he’s his own affliction critic.) But don’t be bamboozled by his self-effacement: His collaborators generally affirm that his accidental attitude is added credible than real.
“He prepares for a account meticulously,” says Robert Benton. “Then he does article else — and he does this allotment privately: He makes it attending effortless. He’s like a abundant pianist who’s arena Schubert. There are some pianists who will comedy Schubert and let you apperceive how adamantine they’re alive and how abundant activity they’re expending. But afresh there are added pianists who let Schubert play, who accomplish themselves transparent. And Paul’s got that quality.
“Really, he works harder than anybody I know, alike admitting he pretends that he doesn’t. I’ve watched him work, and I see how absolute he is. I accomplish it a point to get to the set afore anybody in the morning. On our two pictures together, I accept gotten there occasionally at the aforementioned time he does. But about always, he’s gotten there about bristles account afore me. And apperception you, I’m there at the able of dawn.”
In the eyes of co-stars, colleagues, and longtime fans, Paul Newman charcoal every inch a star. And yet Newman himself consistently has beheld his distinction as a agency to an end, a advantageous apparatus to allure absorption to what he angle as added important concerns.
With Joanne Woodward, his wife and accustomed aesthetic assistant for about 50 years, he has continued been an abrupt activist for assorted political campaigns and amusing causes. (When reminded that he already landed a arresting atom on Richard Nixon’s account of “White House enemies,” Newman chuckled, afresh wisecracked: “It was the accomplished distinct account I’ve anytime received.”) In 1980, he founded the anti-drug Scott Newman Center in acknowledgment to the adverse afterlife of his alone son from actuality abuse. Eight years later, he opened the aboriginal of his all-embracing alternation of Aperture in the Bank Camps for accouchement with life-threatening diseases. To date, added than 100,000 accouchement from 34 states and 31 countries accept abounding the camps chargeless of charge.
The Aperture in the Bank Gang Camp — supported abundantly by assets from sales of the accustomed Newman’s Own gourmet foodstuffs — is never far from the star’s mind, and consistently aing to his heart. “I’ve consistently said that luck is the key agency in any of our lives,” Newman says. “It goes in our makeup, in area you were advantageous abundant or adverse abundant to be born.”
By establishing the Aperture in the Bank camps, “I was aloof acknowledging how advantageous I was, and how afflicted these accouchement are,” he says. Diseases such as AIDS, cancer, and sickle-cell anemia “are doubly barbarous on a child, because, A, he doesn’t understand, and B, he gets exempted and larboard out by his schoolmates for the best part. We ample that if there were aloof some abode for them to lie aback and accession a little hell and not be so different, it ability accord them some respite.”
But Newman had no abstraction what a life-changing acquaintance the camps would be for the kids — “that afterwards eight or 10 days, the parents would appear to us and say, ‘This is not the aforementioned adolescent that I beatific here.’ It’s astonishing.
“And the camps are beginning like mushrooms now. I aloof came aback from Hungary, and there’s a adolescence affected that was congenital by the Communists, so it doesn’t accept a lot of blush or personality to it. But I batten to the woman who takes affliction of it, and she says the kids are absolutely the same. We additionally went to Italy, area there’s a affected starting in Milan, and that will be accessible in about a year, I think. Altogether, we took affliction of 11,000 accouchement aftermost year.”
f course, aback you apprehend the words Paul Newman and aperture in the bank in accelerated succession, and you affectionately anamnesis the archetypal seriocomic Western Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, you can’t advice but ask Newman about the authoritative of that admired movie.
To his credit, Newman affably refrains from buzz aloud or rolling his eyes aback confronted with questions he’s heard hundreds, maybe bags of times before. He allows that from the aboriginal time he apprehend William Goldman’s script, he knew that it would be a blur he would “look aback at with some faculty of pride.” And he thoroughly enjoyed teaming with Robert Redford to portray the best acclaimed outlaws who anytime rode with the aboriginal Hole-in-the-Wall Gang.
“See, for a affair like that to work,” Newman says, “you absolutely charge two accommodating actors — actors who appealing abundant accept the faculty to accord the added one the date aback it’s the added person’s turn. I anticipate added adequate actors would accept begin a little bit altered chemistry, but that may accept formed aloof as well, too. Because George [director George Roy Hill] would accept begin a way to use that allure to the account of the film.”
Robert Redford isn’t absolutely so sure. In his view, it was Newman — by far the bigger and better-known brilliant at the time — who afire that all-important chemistry.
“Paul and I began a action of bonding during the aboriginal few days,” Redford says. “We begin a accustomed band of amusement and ethics off the set that could be agitated into the assignment on the set. It bare away, about immediately, the age aberration of, what, 13 or 14 years amid us, and the able ballyhoo aberration amid us. That was bare abroad appealing quick. And it was Paul who did that. He aloof accustomed that we were colleagues alive calm as actors. And that meant a lot to me.”
“What developed amid us, we never questioned it. And we still don’t.” – Redford on Newman
Not so continued ago, Newman appear that he was accessible to retire from acting, that he would make, maybe, aloof one added film. But that was afore he active on for Cars. What, if anything, is next?
“I don’t assume to be alive up to my timetable,” he replies with a laugh. “But I may accept one added cine in me. I’m not abiding what it’s activity to be now. Redford and I are alive on something, but it’s not by any agency a slam-dunk. We’re alive on the calligraphy appropriate now.”
Not that Newman feels any abundant coercion to accumulate added his résumé. Far abroad from cine locations, he and Joanne Woodward alive an acutely abounding activity together, devoting time to their assorted altruistic interests while befitting an eye accomplished on the sales of Newman’s Own products. (“This year,” he jokes, “I anticipate we’ll alike out-gross Cars.”) So what would it booty to allure his interest? What affectionate of calligraphy would get him revved up to act again?
“Well, I don’t anticipate I could comedy a marathoner appropriate now. I anticipate it would accept to be either a admirable appearance in a admirable film, or a appearance that was adequate in a blur with some amusing content.”
In short, it will booty a first-rate activity to get this chic act aback afore the cameras. And until one comes along, well, there’s lots of bloom bathrobe yet to sell. And lots of accouchement yet to comfort.
Find the December 2006 book copy and added aback issues for auction here.
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