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Paul Newman on Acting, His Films, and Marriage

Newman on Life and His Career

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Paul Newman on What Inspired Him to Become an Actor: “There was a children’s theater at the Cleveland Playhouse and I was involved in that, but I had no expectations of being an actor when I was young. I had no expectations of being an actor after the war. I was an economics major and I got kicked off the football team – under murky circumstances – and I was not much of a student. I had this laundry business that made me very wealthy and I just started going back and doing plays and that occupied my time in my junior and senior year.

After I graduated, I went to Yale and it was my intention to get a Masters Degree and teach. After my first year, I went back to New York just to see if I could find a summer job and I landed a play that ran for 14 months and won the Pulitzer Prize.”

On the Possibility of a Butch Cassidy and Sundance Sequel: “I don't think there could ever be a sequel to Butch and Sundance.”

What Makes Newman Get Out of the House and Work: “Well, I don't think I can play a marathoner right now. I think it would have to be either a wonderful character in a wonderful film or a character that was acceptable in a film with some social content.”

Is Cars Newman’s Last Film?: “Well, I don’t seem to be living up to my timetable. I may have one more movie in me. I’m not sure what it’s going to be now. Redford and I are working on something but it’s not by any means a slam dunk. We’re working on the script right now.”

The Rumors of a Ben Affleck/Matt Damon Remake of Butch Cassidy: “I hadn’t heard that [one]. The only character I felt that was worth investigating was Fast Eddie Felson and that would be worthwhile because in The Hustler he won the match, but he lost his livelihood. I thought it would be interesting to find out what would Fast Eddie Felson be doing 25 years later. And he was doing exactly what I figured he was doing – selling used cars. But very well.”

The Current State of Filmmaking: “You have to have enough of an audience who are curious about social issues, personality issues, political issues and if you don’t have a wide enough audience for it, then you’re not likely to be able to get the financing for it. I think Hollywood is in love with sequels. If it’s successful once, just jazz it up and shoot it out there again. I think it’s unfortunate.”

Advice on Making It to Age 81: “Just have as much luck as I’ve had.”

Even Paul Newman has Flaws: “Ask my wife. [She’d say], ‘Don’t look under the carpet, guys. There’s a lot of murky stuff going on in there.’”

Newman’s Response to Being on Nixon’s Enemy List: “Highest single honor I’ve ever received.”

The Secret to a Long Marriage: “There’s a lot of baloney you can just put out there for the record, but I haven’t the slightest idea, really.”

The Importance of the Hole in the Wall Camps: “I’ve always said that luck is the key factor in any of our lives. It goes in our makeup, in where you were fortunate enough or unfortunate enough to be born. And I was just acknowledging how lucky I was and how unlucky children are, especially if they get [ill]. It’s doubly brutal on a child, because A) he doesn’t understand, and B) he gets exempted and left out by his schoolmates for the most part. And if there were just some place for them to lay back and raise a little hell and not be so different, it might give them some respite. We had no idea what a life-changing experience that would be for these kids, 8 or 10 days. The parents would come and say, ‘This is not the same child that I sent there.’ It’s astonishing. And they’re sprouting like mushrooms now. I just came back from Hungary. There’s a youth camp that was built by the Communists. It doesn’t have a lot of color or personality to it, but speaking to the woman who takes care of it, the kids are exactly the same. We went to Milan, there’s a camp starting in Italy and that will be ready in about a year, I think. We took care of 11,000 children last year.”

A Motto to Live By: “It is useless to put on the brakes when you’re upside down.”

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