Documentaries from HBO Max The Last Movie Stars in her own words, pulls back the curtain on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward’s shared history. Director Ethan Hawke helped bring it all to life. He has enlisted the help of some famous friends to bring to life pre-existing transcripts of interviews with Newman, Woodward and those closest to them.
However, since several boxes of contents had to be searched, some information had to be left on the cutting room floor. When TV Insider spoke to Hawke ahead of the docuseries’ debut, he shared a bit about the stories that didn’t make it.
“At a certain point you just have to focus the laser,” Hawke admits. “There’s probably a 150-page transcript with Paul’s brother [Arthur] who is one of the most important people in his life.” The problem Hawke reveals is that “the problem with opening this box is that it’s a documentary in its own right. It was too big to raise easily.”
So what would have been part of this chapter in Newman’s story? Hawke shares that Newman was “very close” to his brother, but that “they had a sometimes combative relationship.” And that’s not all that’s left on the cutting room floor. “Then there are hundreds of pages of all his war buddies, the guys he served with in World War II, but that’s in another documentary too.”
Ultimately, Hawke decided the documentary was ultimately about “the story of two actors and their love affair.” And if it had nothing to do with the love affair or her acting development, I just let it be.” To find the documentary’s story, Hawke turned to his daughter, fellow actress Maya Hawke (stranger things).
“There were many moments, days, weeks in this process where I got lost,” Hawke admits. “It was like hiking through the woods and you learn a lot about your own gender bias.” And so he solicited opinions from the women in his life, including Maya, whom he found to be “an incredibly helpful person to talk to , because I knew that this film would have a certain interest among the older generation”.
“People my age and older will remember when these movies came out, they’ll bring a lot of their own with them [memories and thoughts]but I wondered what Maya would think.” At the end, Hawke says, “She really helped me to understand my subject and to understand what could be interesting for young people and relevant for today.”
As for Newman and Woodward, that’s not too difficult, they’re timeless. Check out the insightful docuseries on HBO Max The Last Movie Stars‘ lives.
The Last Movie StarsStream now, HBO Max