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How Joanne Woodward sexually initiated Paul Newman and helped make him a universal icon | Celebrities | S Mode THE COUNTRY

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It is known that when Paul Newman met Joanne Woodward, the woman who remained by his side until the day of his death, he was married with three children. Despite the guilt that has always haunted him and which he talks about openly in The latest movie starsthe documentary series on the famous couple (available in Spain on HBO Max), is surprising to hear the actor admit in a series of intimate testimonies which are revealed today for the first time that Woodward made him feel wanted for the first time and that it was the sexual appetite of the two that hooked them as soon as they met: “Joanne gave birth to a sexual creature [él mismo] that he taught, encouraged and delighted with the experimental”.

It’s amazing all that surrounds the actor’s awareness as a sexual myth and how he grants a decisive role to the one who has been his wife for fifty years. Far from the hackneyed commonplace of the great woman who hides behind every great man, in a rather unusual gesture, Newman insistently highlights it by defining himself as “the invention of this sex symbols Created by Joanna.
An invention that occurred when she, then ahead of her acting career – in 1957 she won the Oscar for The Three Faces of Eve—, taught him to trust his body and his desires: “Even the last of my fantasies, the fruit of so many years of rejection, came true with Joanne. Suddenly, a huge door opened in front of me. Joanne made me feel attractive”, adds the actor before confessing: “We recognized each other and left space so that our most lustful aspects had time to develop without interruptions or distractions; we were very good at it, leaving a trail of lust wherever we went: hotels, motels, public parks, bathrooms, swimming pools, beaches, back seats and rental cars.

Years later, in another confession worth noting, Newman assures that she was the one who discovered the script for the wonderful western two men and a destiny (1969) and which gave him the idea to play precisely with Robert Redford. This simple detail, that another sex symbol accompanies her on the screen, far from giving her insecurity, frees her from the corset of the icon of beauty. So Newman could be his real person: an introverted man with a dull complex (“I’m boring and pedestrian”); who came to envy the eccentric and bohemian character of his colleagues from the Actors Studio –Brando, Dean or Marilyn–; and that deep down he felt more at ease with the gesture of a buffoon than with the intensity of the head of the department. His intimate scars, the anti-Semitic bullying of his childhood, the trauma of his broken first family, the addictions of his only son, Scott, one of those Hollywood puppies unable to bear the weight of his surname, had turned Newman into an alcoholic trapped in forward flight whose obsessive avoidance included speed and cars.

The documentary, directed by actor Ethan Hawke, claims with meticulousness and intelligence the career of Woodward, but also his essential role in the family life of the couple. Very early on, and with a visceral and counter-current speech, the actress — who took care of the children of Paul’s previous marriage and her own (six in total) — publicly complained about the burden that motherhood weighed on her career, much more important than that of her husband when they started. At one point, he even admits that if he were born again, he would think twice before having children. Woodward had to deal with the frustration of interrupted work while at the top only to pick it up again as his partner rose from the ladder of actor to star. A dizzying leap into a superhero costume that Woodward helped weave with the same vocation and talent he put into resuming his own career without giving up his family life. Always, by the way, accompanied by her needles and her ball of wool, domestic weapons that the actress, who knitted all the time, exhibited with defiant pride on sets and in interviews.

The latest movie stars is nourished by the many interviews that writer and friend of Newman, Stewart Stern, gathered to write the autobiography of the actor, an invaluable body of testimonies which, after a long and somewhat puzzling family adventure, come from be published in the United States and that in Spain publishes Libros Cúpula under the title Paul Newmann. The extraordinary life of an ordinary man. The series is based on the same material but organized under the impetus of a master of ceremonies, Hawke, who in a curious narrative exercise in times of pandemic and Zoom, brought together, among others, George Clooney, Sam Rockwell or Laura Linney, who lend their voices to the characters of a film teeming with an intellectual like Gore Vidal, close friend of the couple throughout their life, to filmmakers like Elia Kazan, Martin Ritt or George Roy Hill. In the priceless setting of their respective homes, all generate a chorus of voices and pixelated images that will become a juicy stretcher around the profession of actor, the ego and the couple.

The couple in London in 1969 Photo: Getty

Hawke sometimes talks about the kitchen and sometimes the living room and, very shrewdly, directs the conversation, sometimes with an excess of hyperbolic and dizzying gestures, towards his own territory, and that includes the participation of the girls he had with Uma Thurman in a series that lends itself to the couch of family therapy thanks to the savvy sharing that Newman and, most importantly, his wife give. “When it looked like the marriage wouldn’t last another day,” Woodward confesses, “we had to be aware that there were three things at work: my ego, his ego, and our ego. relationship survives, we had to pause mine and his and bet on ours.

Another surprise is how one of the actress’ stepdaughters tattooed her stepmother’s name on her arm to “never forget” what this woman did for them and their father. The pearls that come out of Woodward’s mouth are those of an overwhelming woman whose profound wisdom emerges in many recipes she applies to everyday “us”. “Acting is like sex, you have to do it and not talk about it”, “You can’t be an actor without accepting that you are ready to make a fool of yourself and fail”, said a woman who hung a poster on the door of his house that He said: “Luck is an art”.

Via zoom, Martin Scorsese, producer of the series, goes so far as to say that it was Woodard who caused the most exciting turns in Newman’s career. And through testimonies from the past, Arthur Penn recalls the difficult balance of a generation of actors who discovered freedom through acting. “I’m united with all my characters because that’s how it should be,” Woodward assured, “they all have something of me, that’s the joy and the trauma of any actor. We don’t have no piano, like a pianist, we don’t even have ballerinas, like a ballerina, we just have what we are.”

It is curious that all these intimacies are brought to light thanks to the decision of some girls who want the truth to be known behind the romantic image of the perfect couple that their parents had and which ended up eclipsing their true identity.

Joanne Woodward is 92 years old today and Alzheimer’s disease has caused her to lose her memory of all that we discover. It is a sad paradox. As happened to the privileged mind of Iris Murdoch, another exceptional woman who suffered from this cruel and mysterious disease, Woodward escapes almost every label, her open emotional complexity places her far above her time and we understand better now the aura of admiration that always surrounded her and that someone with a muzzle as fine as Gore Vidal summed it up this way: she always had more talent, and he, not without guilt, knew it .