Saturday, September 27, 2008
Paul Newman finally succumbed to Cancer, and died at the age of 83. I have a fondness for Paul Newman the actor — not just in his performances, but in the risks that he took as an actor.
Initially dubbed as a Brando knock-off, Newman quickly grew into his own. From Cool Hand Luke and The Hustler to The Verdict and The Color of Money, he inhabited characters that had the potential for greatness, yet were mired by their own failings and weaknesses. Roles in The Sting, Butch Cassidy, and Slapshot showed the otherside of Newman - the wry trickster who was able to get you to laugh at and with him.
Whereas Brando's performances were outsized, so were the roles he demanded. Newman broke from this, playing more understated characters. Brando may have amazed us with his realism, but Newman's performances were believable, and inhabited cinema realities that were equally credible.
His strength as a performer was potent, and his impression was clearly felt on a generation of actors, from greats like Robert Redford and Robert Deniro to almost greats like Burt Reynolds and Mickey Rourke.
In a time when politicans are throwing around the word Maverick like cheap rice at a wedding - Newman was a true maverick - from his choices as an actor to his humanitarian pursuits. With his passing, one more of the movie star greats has left us.