Ethan Hawke’s Directing a Documentary on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman

Ethan Hawke’s celebrating the lives of Hollywood icons Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward in the documentary The Last Movie Stars set to air on CNN+, a subscription service launching later this year. The documentary, told in six chapters, explores the personal and professional lives of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward through archival interviews with the couple as well as new interviews with fellow actors.

“Exploring Woodward and Newman through their 50-year love affair has proven more rewarding than I could have imagined. Their work, philanthropy, and lives serve as a kind of North Star, illuminating what a substantive, meaningful life can look like,” said The Last Movie Stars director Ethan Hawke.

Oscar winner Martin Scorsese is on board the project as an executive producer along with Executive Vice President for Talent and Content Development for CNN Worldwide Amy Entelis and Senior Vice President for CNN Films Courtney Sexton. Emily Wachtel and Lisa Long Adler of Nook House Productions, Ryan Hawke of Under the Influence Productions, and Adam Gibbs produce, and Mario Andretti is a co-producer.

“Ethan’s brilliant vision illuminates what fascinates us about Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman in a film worthy of their talents and passions,” stated Amy Entelis. “We look forward to sharing this unique, multi-chapter story with CNN+ subscribers.”

CNN Films and CNN+ released the following description of The Last Movie Stars:

Woodward and Newman occupy a unique space in the Hollywood pantheon. Thrilling to watch on screen, they lived intriguing lives beyond the cameras, much of which was kept private by intention, until this film. Early in the pandemic, one of Woodward’s and Newman’s daughters, together with Nook House Productions, approached Hawke about directing a documentary about Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman. The four-time Oscar-nominee Ethan Hawke, who had previously directed the highly-acclaimed documentary feature, Seymour: An Introduction, formally boarded the project as director.

Central to The Last Movie Stars is a long-abandoned project that Newman commissioned from friend and screenwriter Stewart Stern. At Newman’s request, Stern interviewed Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Karl Malden, Sidney Pollack, Gore Vidal, Jacqueline Witte, Joanne Woodward, and others for a planned memoir. Newman was also interviewed by Stern. They discussed his youth, his first marriage, his romance and life with Woodward, his personal demons, and the gut-wrenching loss of his son, Scott.

In addition to archival interviews with Woodward and Newman, Hawke enlisted actors Karen Allen, George Clooney, Oscar Isaac, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Zoe Kazan, Laura Linney, Sam Rockwell, and others to voice segments of the original transcribed interviews for The Last Movie Stars. Hawke also interviewed several of Newman’s daughters for insights into their parents. In Hawke’s contemporary interviews with Sally Field, Melanie Griffith, and Martin Scorsese, they discuss what made Woodward’s and Newman’s singular careers, and relationship, so inspiring. The result, delivered in six chapters of varied lengths, is a thoughtful, revealing film of lives well and fully lived.

Woodward and Newman are enduring symbols of smoldering cool. Their joint and individual credits read like an actor’s master class: Cool Hand Luke, Hud, The Three Faces of Eve, Winning, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Hustler, The Glass Menagerie, Rachel, Rachel, and more.

Woodward and Newman seemed to slip the burdens of searing celebrity and blazed a unique trail. Though their intense romantic relationship was a perennial obsession of fans and Hollywood press, they successfully refocused their fame towards their art, racing, social justice, and human rights, and balanced demanding careers with a fulfilling marriage. During the course of their lives together, they also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for causes they believed in, and, were active in civil rights and the environment, inspiring legions of other artists to follow in their footsteps.