There was simply no one else like Paul Newman
Sunday 28 September 2008
Paul Newman was one of the last two greats of his generation. There is only Clint Eastwood left now, I think. He trained in the method style with Lee Strasberg and in the beginning he was criticised for being a mini Marlon Brando. He was a bit younger than Brando, and Brando was the big star. But he moved away from that, and established his own style. He wasn't a second anybody: he was very much Paul Newman.
He is undoubtedly in the top 10 of all-time great movie stars. Whereabouts I don't know, but he was undoubtedly a great star. Unlike many of the great stars, though, Newman was a very, very good actor. He was also extraordinarily good-looking, with eyes a remarkable shade of bright blue, but his looks got in the way of people appreciating his acting ability until much later in his life.
They assumed he was just a pretty boy and didn't take him seriously. That's perhaps one of the reasons why he was nominated for so many Oscars without winning. In fact, he was a bloody good actor.
It may be true that in some of his early films he got by on his looks, but not in the ones that counted. If you watch Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), you can see there's a very good actor emerging.
I didn't meet him often, but when I did I found him absolutely charming, though more withdrawn than one would have expected. His wife, Joanne Woodward, was much more bubbly than he was. He was hard to interview: he didn't like to give a lot away.
When he was coming up, there wasn't the prurient curiosity in stars' private lives that exists now. I think he was a thoroughly decent man, however. His marriage to Joanne Woodward was, I believe, very happy. He also had these organic foods, and the proceeds all went to charity.
The film everyone's going to remember him for is Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, because that was one of the great Westerns. But I think his best performance was in Cool Hand Luke (1967) – that and The Hustler (1961). The great thing about Newman's acting was that he became the character he was playing. But, at the same time, there were always those Paul Newman qualities. He appeared on the screen and you warmed to him at once. It didn't matter what kind of part he was playing. Even in Road to Perdition (2002) or Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), when he was playing not very nice guys, as soon as he appeared on the screen you warmed to him – and that was God-given. There was something that exuded from him: personality, charisma, call it what you like. And that is an enormous asset for any movie star.
Barry Norman was speaking to Andrew Johnson
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Dog thinks owner is drowning in lake, dives in and tries to pull him out
- 4 Chilling drone footage captures Auschwitz ahead of 70th anniversary of liberation
- 5 Phil Neville backtracks on Tomas Rosicky 'I'd smash him' comments from Match of the Day 2
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Greece elections: Greek PM Alexis Tsipras takes aim at 'neo-liberal' Europe as country gears up for prolonged austerity battle
Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary: Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
Pornhub star Mia Khalifa receives death threats after being ranked the site's top adult actress
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more 'acceptable to the electorate'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of Science in this com...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of waste ...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...