Paul Newman was a lot
of things to a lot of people: Oscar-winning actor, devilishly handsome lady-killer, poster child for rebellion - hell, he even made a million selling spaghetti sauce to housewives. His movies have been celebrated for years, lauded by critics and audiences alike and inducted into countless 'best of' lists and halls of fame. But we're not here to talk about them: the man himself is far too interesting for us to just talk film. The following ten reasons show just why Paul Newman was infinitely cooler than you and pretty much every other lowly schmuck left on the planet.
HE WAS HUMBLE
NEWMAN'S FIRST FEATURE
film, 1954 costume epic The Silver Chalice, was considered a flop: one critic likened his monotone portrayal to a bus conductor announcing the stops. Newman was especially embarrassed at his own performance, so when The Silver Chalice was due its first showing on television in 1966, he took out a full-page advert in a trade mag begging readers not to watch it. If today's Hollywood stars had a similar sense of decorum, reading Variety would basically be like flicking through a big book of apologies by Rob Schneider.
HE HAD STAYING POWER
WHILE THE DOWNWARD
career trajectories of maestros De Niro and Pacino continue apace, it's worth remembering that some actors stay
good. Newman might have had a bumpy start but in his time was nominated for nine acting Oscars across five decades; Cat On A Hot Tin Roof in 1958; The Hustler, Hud and Cool Hand Luke in the '60s; Absence Of Malice, The Verdict and The Color Of Money in the '80s (finally winning for the latter); Nobody's Fool in 1994; and his excellent turn in Road To Perdition in 2002. Thankfully, nobody remembers the seventies anyway.
HE BRANCHED OUT
HOLLYWOOD WAS NOT
enough - Newman wasn't content with dominating cinemas, he wanted to dominate your dinner table too. The Newman's Own range spanned everything from salad dressing to popcorn to fruit juice, getting the great man's face in households across America and extending his 'brand' - he joked about raking in more money from his condiments than he ever did from his films. It sounds like kind of a douche move, but Newman has never and will never make a penny from squeezing out his sauces: all profits go to charidee.
HE DIDN'T TAKE SHIT FROM ANYONE
EVEN THE FINEST
actors have to satisfy their egos from time to time and Newman was no different. There was bad blood between Paul and fellow cinematic badass Steve McQueen on the set of '70s thriller The Towering Inferno after both men demanded top billing - a design impossibility. Or was it? Both men stood firm, meaning a new kind of staggered 'diagonal billing
' had to be created, where McQueen's name was first if reading left to right and Newman was first read from top to bottom. A draw, then, but it's not every day someone tangles with Bullitt and comes out with both nuts still intact.
HE TURNED DOWN GOLD
THOUGH HE BOASTS
a roster of classic characters on his resume, Newman has turned down some of the biggest roles in modern cinema. Steven Spielberg offered him the role of Quint in Jaws but Newman passed; he could have accepted Charlton Heston's Oscar-winning role in Ben-Hur but claimed he "didn't have the legs to wear a tunic"; he even turned down the character of Dirty Harry because he wasn't overly keen on the movie's use of violence. Newman suggested Clint Eastwood for the role and cinema subsequently thanked him profusely.