HBO Max will debut all six-parts of Ethan Hawke’s documentary “The Last Movie Stars,” which premiered at SXSW and the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, on July 21. The series explores the personal lives and careers of actors Joanna Woodward and Paul Newman. Hawke, who previously helmed the documentary “Seymour: An Introduction,” directs all six entries in the CNN Films docuseries while Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer.
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 close friends, family and artistic collaborators like Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Karl Malden, Sydney Pollack, Gore Vidal, Jackie Witte, Woodward for a planned memoir. Newman was also interviewed by Stern to discuss his youth, his first marriage with Witte, his romance and life with Woodward, his personal demons, and the loss of his son, Scott.
“It’s an honor to share Joanne and Paul’s inspiring life and love story with audiences this summer,” Hawke said. “I’m especially thrilled that a project we’ve poured so much heart and soul into now has its home at HBO Max, a platform known for celebrating and championing the documentary artform.”
The archival interviews with Woodward and Newman are paired with interviews conducted for “The Last Movie Stars,” featuring the likes of Karen Allen, George Clooney, Oscar Isaac, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Zoe Kazan, Laura Linney and Sam Rockwell. Hawke also spoke with Newman’s daughters for insight into their parents’ relationship, and additional conversations with Sally Field and Scorsese explore what made Woodward and Newman’s careers and relationship so singular and inspiring.
Woodward and Newman are enduring symbols of Hollywood. Their joint and individual credits include “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. Though their intense romantic relationship was a perennial obsession for the press and fans alike, they successfully refocused their fame towards their art and human rights efforts, and they balanced demanding careers with a fulfilling 50-year marriage. During the course of their lives together, they also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for social justice causes they believed in, inspiring legions of other artists to follow in their footsteps.
In addition to Scorsese, “The Last Movie Stars” is executive produced by Amy Entelis, executive vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide, and Courtney Sexton, senior vice president for CNN Films. Mario Andretti is attached as co-producer. The documentary is produced by Emily Wachtel and Lisa Long Adler of Nook House Productions, Ryan Hawke of Under the Influence Productions, and Adam Gibbs. Hamilton Leithauser is the composer for the original score.