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Paul Newman Gets Animated

31 Oct, 2006 By: Craig Modderno

Paul Newman voices Old Hudson in 'Cars'

Last summer when the stars of Cars appeared at the Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte North Carolina, 30,000 local citizens paid to see the world premiere of the Walt Disney Pictures/Pixar animated film and cheer on vocal talent Larry the Cable Guy and racing champion Richard Petty. But they saved their biggest applause for a genuine movie legend: Paul Newman.

Now enjoying his sixth consecutive decade of movie stardom, Newman also co-owns a racing team whose victory at the Tecate Grand Prix was their third win to start the current season.

HMR: Why did you decide to do Cars?

Newman: I wanted critics to write, “The 81-year-old actor after a lengthy career has finally become annimated!” I liked the Cars script, which I thought captured the appeal and magic of the racing world. I was also attracted to the project because it was the kind of movie I could show the kids at the Hole in the Wall [a series of camps for under-priviledged kids that he founded and supports]. Besides it was an easy gig. It takes you four days to record your dialogue during which they bring you lunch then you're done.

HMR: Are there any films of yours on DVD that were underrated?

Newman: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Elizabeth Taylor, who had a lot of painful physical problems when we were making it, was absolutely brilliant as the title character. Slapshot, because it's just so damn funny and has very serious undertones about our obsession with sports and their effect on basic American values.

HMR: What determines whether or not you'll do a DVD special feature?

Newman: Generally the quality of the film and what it meant to me. I'm a firm believer that you don't want to look under the engine of a car too often to see what makes it work and the same goes for films. Butch Cassidy and The Sting were great films to talk about on DVD because audiences loved them and the films hold up. But I'd rather turn into a Republican before I'd do anything on a Silver Chalice DVD. That was my first film and a textbook in bad acting.

HMR: How close are you to making another film with Robert Redford?

Newman: We're working on a script together now. We're writing fast because Redford is starting to look old.

HMR: It's been reported that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon are considering remaking Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Any response?

Newman: I thought we got it right the first time.

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