Few names in Hollywood history loom as large as Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. From Woodward’s 1958 Oscar win for “The Three Faces of Eve” to Newman’s decades-long run as Hollywood’s most endearing tough guy, the couple are an essential part of one of the most important eras of American film.
The stars got married after working together in “The Long, Hot Summer,” but saw the trajectories of both of their careers change throughout their 50-year marriage. When they first married, she was a much bigger star, having just won an Oscar. But Newman soon entered the stratosphere with roles in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Hustler,” and his status only climbed higher over the next several decades.
“The Last Movie Stars,” a new HBO Max documentary from director Ethan Hawke, seeks to chart the highs and lows of their relationship through a series of previously unpublished conversations between Newman and Woodward. The interviews were originally meant for Newman’s memoir, a project that was ultimately scrapped. Newman destroyed the tapes of their conversations, but transcripts remain, and Hawke’s documentary shows some of Hollywood’s biggest stars bringing the conversations to life through Zoom table reads.
George Clooney, Laura Linney, Oscar Isaac, Melanie Griffith, Sam Rockwell, Billy Crudup, Sally Field, Zoe Kazan, Karen Allen, Steve Zahn, and LaTanya Richardson Jackson are all set to appear in the documentary. Clooney reads for Paul Newman, and Laura Linney portrays Joanne Woodward.
According to HBO’s official synopsis, “The Last Movie Stars” is “an epic six-chapter documentary that chronicles Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s iconic careers and decades-long partnership. Director Ethan Hawke brings life and color to this definitive history of their dedication to their art, philanthropy and each other. Through long-lost transcriptions of interviews with Paul, Joanne and those close to them, brought to life by contemporary actors, we’re given an intimate front-row seat to the lives and careers of the couple that would go on to forge an unmatched cultural legacy.”
“The Last Movie Stars” begins streaming on HBO Max on Thursday, July 21. Watch the official trailer below: