Yesterday, HBO announced it would be premiering “41,” a documentary about the life of 41st President George H. W. Bush “in his own words” from his summer home in Kennebunkport, ME, on June 14th to commemorate the man’s 88th birthday, two days before. Indiewire spoke to executive producer Jerry Weintraub (of “Nashville,” “The Karate Kid,” the “Ocean’s Eleven” remake and many more films) for a few minutes about where the film came from. Weintraub was the subject of his own HBO doc last year — the Emmy-nominated “His Way,” from director Douglas McGrath.
Was this a project that you initiated yourself?
No, this is a project from a young filmmaker by the name of Jeffrey Roth. He made a film about some astronauts [2007’s “The Wonder of It All”] and sent it to President [George H. W. Bush]. And the President invited him to come say hello, so he went to Kennebunkport, met the president and got him to commit to do this. Then the President called me, and the rest is history.
And you’re a longtime friend of the family.
Yes, a longtime friend — for about 45 years. I have a home in Kennebunkport.
What do you think people can learn from the film?
One, it’s all in his words, which he’s never done before. Two, it’s a look at him that’s not political. It’s about him and his life, what he gave the world and what the world gave to him. He’s a wonderful man who’s very thankful for everything in his life. He’s a contented man. He’s 88 years old on June 12th, and he’s accomplished quite a bit in his lifetime — this will tell you why and how.
It’s unusual to look at a president by way of a personal portrait rather than a political one.
It is a personal portrait. It’s absolutely beautiful. I’m thrilled with it, and I cry when I watch it, and I love him with all my heart. I’m honored to be a part of it and to be able to do this for him. We’re going to show it for his 88th birthday, and we’re going to have a nice party, and we’re going to have a shot of vodka and enjoy ourselves.
“41” was filmed from September 2009 to February 2011, and will serve as the closest thing to a memoir to date from the former President.