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Paul Newman's Own Part Two

ROAD TO PERDITION's father figure on celebrity, charity work and being an icon

By Pamela Harland     July 21, 2002

© 2002 Dreamworks
Currently appearing in ROAD TO PERDITION, Hollywood icon Paul Newman plays 1931 Irish mob boss John Rooney who finds himself torn between a biological son (Daniel Craig) and the one whom he grew to love as a son (Tom Hanks). Today we continue our talk with Newman.


Hinting at a possible reunion between he and his wife, actress Joanne Woodward, on screen, he says he can't speak of it now because it's still in discussions but don't be surprised if you do see these two paired up again in the near future. The two haven't appeared in a film together since 1990's MR. AND MRS. BRIDGE. Maybe it's because some of the habits Newman picks up on set are less appealing to Woodward. While working on the 1956 film SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME, Newman researched his role as Rocky Graziano by hanging out with Graziano. Well, unfortunately some of Graziano's bad habits started rubbing off on Newman.

"I never used to spit in the street and I was with Rocky for about nine weeks before the picture began filming and I spit in the street," says Newman. "It sickens my wife. I never used to swear or use any kind of foul language, now it's not worth being in the same room as me. It's funny how of all the physical attributes that could have stuck with me that those were the two that stuck the strongest and the longest."

Someone who Newman could probably never sicken is Tom Hanks, who admits feeling nervous, at first, about sharing the screen with Newman. Newman shares an admiration for Hanks whom he enjoyed working with on ROAD.

"He has the quality of not dodging things which is as true off screen as on," says Newman about Hanks. "And there's no fancy footwork. There's no approaching things sideways. What you are looking at is what you get and that's refreshing."


Bad habits or not, Newman is a well-respected and generous man who has earned a great deal of respect from the Hollywood community as well as his own community in Connecticut. All profits from his food product go to charity. And he has started various organizations including a summer camp called The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp for kids with cancer and in the fall he runs a Discovery program for inner city kids. But Newman downplays his humane and worthy extracurricular activities as being a simple act of humanity.

"The concept that a person who has a lot holds out his hand to someone who has less, or someone who isn't hurting holds his hand out to someone who is, is simply a human trait that has nothing to do with celebritism," says Newman. "I am confounded by the stinginess of some institutions and some people and bewildered by it. We can only put away so much in our closets. I don't think there is anything exceptional or noble about me being philanthropic. It's the other attitudes that confuse me."

Newman clearly has a soft spot for children when it comes to his charitable focus. And it seems that partialness overlaps into his career. The purity of a child and the genuineness of a child are hard to duplicate by an adult, says Newman.

Tom Hanks and Paul Newman star in ROAD TO PERDITION

"The best actors are children," says Newman. "So to that extent that you can sustain and maintain that childlike part of your personality, that is probably the best part of acting."

Citing off what he feels is the best part of his job, the question of what is the worst part of acting inevitably comes up. Without hesitation Newman responds, "This," - referring to our interview.

The feistiness of a child is evidently still in this Hollywood veteran who, it seems, is just too busy to think about retiring from anything.

"There is still a little vinegar left in the old dog yet," laughs Newman.

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