A release date has been confirmed for the HBO Max Original The Last Movie Stars, a docuseries in six parts from actor, writer, and director Ethan Hawke which celebrates one of Hollywood’s most iconic and enduring romances.
From Nook House Productions, Under the Influence Productions, CNN Films, and HBO Max, The Last Movie Stars revolves around the fascinating lives and love story of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The docuseries is directed by four-time Academy Award nominee Hawke, who had previously directed the acclaimed 2014 documentary about pianist Seymour Bernstein called Seymour: An Introduction. Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Martin Scorsese serves as executive producer. The Last Movie Stars first premiered at the South by Southwest film festival in March before moving on to be screened at Cannes Film Festival’s Cannes Classics section in May.
A long-abandoned project that Newman commissioned from friend and twice Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Stewart Stern has a central role in the docuseries. Stern, at Newman’s request, conducted interviews with family, friends, and collaborators Elia Kazan, Sidney Lumet, Karl Malden, Sidney Pollack, Gore Vidal, Jacqueline Witte, and Woodward among many others for a planned memoir. Newman himself was also interviewed by Stern. In this interview, they discussed his younger years, his first marriage, his romance with Woodward, his personal demons, and the devastating loss of his son Scott Newman from a drug overdose.
In addition to these interviews, Hawke also got actors like Karen Allen, George Clooney, Oscar Isaac, LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Zoe Kazan, Laura Linney, and Sam Rockwell, to lend their voices to segments of the original interview transcripts. Hawke also interviewed some of Newman’s daughters to get another inside perspective on the couple and their private lives, and he also interviewed Sally Field and Scorsese for their views on Woodward’s and Newman’s careers and what made them so inspiring.
Hawke made a statement saying:
“It’s an honor to get to share Joanne and Paul’s inspiring life and love story with audiences this summer. 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.”
Woodward and Newman met each other in the early 1950s during a Broadway production of the romantic drama Picnic. Some of their collective and individual credits include The Long, Hot Summer, The Hustler, The Three Faces of Eve, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and Rachel, Rachel. As a couple, they managed to focus their fame on their art, racing, social justice, and human rights and managed to balance their busy careers with a fulfilling marriage that lasted from 1958 till Newman’s death in 2008.
Along with Scorsese, Amy Entelis and Courtney Sexton also served as executive producers. The docuseries was produced by Emily Wachtel and Lisa Long Adler of Nook House Productions, Ryan Hawke of Under the Influence Productions, and Adam Gibbs. The original score was composed by Hamilton Leithauser.
The six parts of The Last Movie Stars will debut on HBO Max on Thursday, July 21.