Actor and sometimes filmmaker Ethan Hawke is set to direct a documentary about Hollywood couple Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Newman met Woodward while they were both working on the Broadway production Picnic, and the two married in 1958, and would remain married for 50 years until Newman’s death in 2008. Woodward is still alive as of the writing of this story.
Deadline is reporting that Nook House Productions has tasked Ethan Hawke with a directing a Paul Newman Joanne Woodward documentary. Newman was married to Jackie Witte when he first met Woodward during the Broadway production of Picnic, where Newman was making his Broadway debut and Woodward was an understudy. In 1957, Newman reunited with Woodward for the feature film The Long, Hot Summer. The reunion lead to Newman divorcing Witte, and he and Woodward married in 1958.
Unlike so many other Hollywood couples, the marriage between Newman and Woodward held, and the pair remained together for 50 years, until Newman’s death in 2008. While Newman became the bigger star, Woodward continued acting through their marriage as well. Her last on-screen feature film credit is 1993’s Philadelphia, but she also appeared in the 2005 Empire Falls miniseries along with Newman. In the midst of all of this, Newman found time to co-found the food company Newman’s Own. As an article in Country Living states:
Off-screen, the power couple became actively involved in charitable organizations, most notably Newman’s Own Foundation, which was born when Newman and writer A.E. Hotchner mixed some salad dressing for friends. It was so popular, they eventually launched it into a business. “Let’s give it all away to those who need it!” Newman said. Soon they were also selling pasta sauce, popcorn, salsa, and more, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to nonprofit organizations (over $485 million to date). Newman also took up racing and become a pretty successful driver.
Hawke says his documentary feature will feature a “rare and exclusive look at the careers of both actors and a complex 50-year relationship that ultimately managed to beat incredible odds.” Hawke’s directorial credits include Chelsea Walls (2001), The Hottest State (2006), the documentary Seymour: An Introduction (2014), about Seymour Bernstein; and the recent feature Blaze (2018), about singer-songwriter Blaze Foley. He’ll next be seen in the miniseries The Good Lord Bird, and is currently filming The Northman with director Robert Eggers (The Lighthouse).
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