WEIRDLAND: Blue Eyes and Ethics: Paul Newman, Matt Damon

Monday, February 05, 2018

Blue Eyes and Ethics: Paul Newman, Matt Damon

Paul Newman, the fierce-faced punk at the Actors Studio in New York City in the early fifties, perched backward on a folding chair. The tough guy's wearing a white T-shirt tight enough to show the curve of his lats, his smoke cupped in one hand, his jaws clamped so hard that the muscles in his cheek quiver. No one in a room of sixty people could look more alone. You'd guess that he'll get laid: He's rock-hard, ice-cool, gorgeous. The first time he goes up in front of the class to do a scene in workshop, the tough guy gets slammed. Not that he doesn't know a few things. He knows that James Dean is out in Hollywood already. He knows that he's not so quick a study, that he has neither their emotional equipment nor their savvy, that he can't explode like Brando or melt down glistening like Dean. He knows that he is out of other options. He has made aimless failure look easy, which it's not -- not if you're from Shaker Heights. And this -- the sum of his feckless boyhood -- this he can use. He will use it. He has nothing left to lose or to hide, nothing and no one to hide from -- himself least of all.

An epiphany of sorts, and a paradox, because, in fact, he gives a fuck. He does not want to be a lightweight. He remembers his father during the Depression, when the store was out of cash, taking the train to Chicago and returning with the promise of hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of sporting goods from Spalding and Wilson, because he was a man of integrity. His father was not a lightweight and traded newspapering for the cold hell of retail to secure a future for his family. When his father died in 1950, Newman went back to Cleveland and took his place behind the counter, and he felt a stone in his chest where his heart had been. Behind the counter and in the account book, the tough guy found more shadows and ghosts than he could bear. He didn't last a year before deciding he's going to be an actor. He's going to pay the price of seeming not to give a fuck -- about the future, about success, about what anybody else thinks of him. He's going to pretend to care deeply about nothing, to be past caring, especially about the things he cares deeply about. He's going to act as if he's not acting.

He's going to be Hud. Cool Hand Luke. He's going to be a beautiful loser, a self-made orphan, adrift and misjudged, as scornful as he is scorned. He's going to be the adolescent fantasy of a man's man, cocky, gritty, tough inside and out, all smirk and sinew, opposed -- not by choice but by the helpless purity of his nature -- to the laws that govern everyone else. Freedom... he has no other choice. No past -- his father's shade floats dark behind him, knowing that his pretty boy couldn't cut the mustard. No future -- he looks a little like Dean, but without the sullen anguish. Newman was just a tough guy hidden, alone behind the curtain. "I don't know what I've learned," the old Paul Newman growls. Then comes a long pause, a vintage Actors-Studio pause, a quiet billowing like fog, a hush falling like the dark. You want him to open and spill himself? He won't. He doesn't think of himself like that, as a subject. Long ago, he decided that his inner life would stay that way ("This is the great age of candor," he said in 1983. "Fuck candor"), that celebrity was another, lesser role, and not to be trusted.

Newman was named Best Actor at Cannes for his work in The Long, Hot Summer (1958) but it wasn't that year's box-office sensation that would've been Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, for which Newman got the first of his eight Best Actor Oscar nominations. By 1963, with twenty films and three Oscar nominations for Best Actor, Newman had become the most versatile and bankable movie star on planet Earth; for God's sake, Newman lost Oscars to, among others, David Niven and Tom Hanks. The women mocked at fanning themselves when he turned his head, not because they were warm, but because it was… him. "It is luck," admits Newman, "I didn't think very much about the future. I never felt like a leading man. I never had that kind of confidence." James Dean had died and bequeathed to Newman his first plum role, as Rocky Graziano in Somebody Up There Likes Me.

Meeting Joanne Woodward, a great actress who was willing to set aside the meat of her career to raise their kids --that was lucky too. In 1953, while walking around Manhattan street on a scorching August afternoon, the 25-year-old Newman decided to escape the heat in his agent’s air conditioned office. How could he know that he was about to meet the love of his life? In that fateful office sat Joanne Woodward, a young, pretty and very talented actress, also hiding from the hot sun. “We really liked each other,” Woodward said about the secret to their long marriage. “We could talk to each other, we could tell each other anything without fear of ridicule or rejection. There was trust.” "I was shy and a bit conservative. It took me a long time to persuade her that I wasn't as dull as I looked," Shawn Levy quotes Newman in his biography Paul Newman: A Life (2009). On January 29, 1958, Joanne and Paul married in Las Vegas and went on a honeymoon in Europe. 

He's going to be another great good man -- the last of his kind -- gone.  Paul Newman had an odd sort of foul-mouthed dignity we simply don’t see in movies these days (if an actor is doing a blue routine, it’s always so damn obvious). "No complaints," Newman says. "I've had a pretty good run." Source:

Matt Damon was not happy being compared to such matinee idols like Paul Newman. Matt Damon joined Paul Newman on stage to perform The World of Nick Adams during a November 2002 charity event. "The leading-man stuff doesn't come easily to me. I've always felt like a character actor,'' Damon said, telling of his unease when he found out that the role he was playing in Robert Redford's film The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) was originally to have been played by the veteran star himself. Damon was the co-founder of to set up access to safe water and sanitation in the poorest parts of the world. His commitment to this and other more overtly political campaigns has caused Damon to be likened to ethically engaged stars of yesteryear, such as Paul Newman or Robert Redford.

Matt Damon famously had a 3 year relationship with Winona Ryder and even allegedly turned down Courtney Love's advances. Did Damon's marriage to Luciana develop from love at first sight? "I don't know if that's me revising the memory as I get older, imbuing it with all the subsequent emotion that I felt and all the experiences that we've had since then," Damon told Macleans Canada magazine in 2011. "I feel like if I'm honest, that there was a halo of light around her and I absolutely knew that moment had changed my life before I even spoke to her, but I don't know whether or not that's revisionism." However their relationship began, it's clear that they were meant to be together! Source:

According to the HD Room, Director Alexander Payne’s Downsizing starring Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig will get a simultaneous home video release on March 20th. Formats supported for the release include Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. Downsizing had losses of over $20 million at the box office. The film’s star power combined with its premise about shrinking down to live in miniature communities should draw more interest on home video than it did theatrically. Despite tanking at the box office, Downsizing is getting some supplemental feature love from Paramount with a collection of bonus features. Here’s the breakdown of all the planned featurettes:

Working with Alexander
The cast
A visual journey
A matter of perspective
That smile
A global concern

Trustworthiness and altruism have a synergistic effect when combined with physical attractiveness. A new study, published in the British Journal of Psychology, has found that the combination of physical attractiveness and prosociality greatly boosts a person’s desirability as a romantic partner. “There has been some great research done by psychologists to help us understand human mating and in particular the individual traits that are valued by both men and women, however in reality these traits will be assessed as a whole when we make judgements of the desirability of a potential partner,” explained study author Daniel Farrelly, a senior lecturer at the University of Worcester. “Therefore we wanted to see how both men and women assess potential mates when the latter vary in levels of two characteristics that are well established in mate choice research; physical attractiveness and prosocial behaviours (e.g. altruism and trustworthiness).” 

The researchers found that both altruism and trustworthiness were preferred in long-term partners. But this was especially true for people who were already physically attractive. People with prosocial traits who were also physically attractive were preferred the most. But the effects of prosociality and physical attractiveness wasn’t simply additive. “In other words, as we found there were synergistic effects of being both physically attractive and prosocial, which meant that such individuals were viewed as more desirable than would be expected from just the sum of the two desirable traits,” Farrelly explained to PsyPost. “Also, this effect was most important for seeking long term partners, where having both traits will be much more valued and desired compared to short term partners for both men and women.”

“One of the intriguing findings of our study was how different forms of prosocial behaviours (altruism and trustworthiness) were valued in different ways by men and women that we predicted based on their potential adaptive value in mate choice,” Farrelly noted. The context had a much stronger impact for men than for women. For men, trustworthiness had very little influence in the context of short-term relationships, but a strong influence in the long-term context. “This research highlights how prosocial behaviours (such as fairness, heroism, and true altruism) may be viewed differently in human mate choice due to the different adaptive roles,” Farrelly added. The study, “The synergistic effect of prosociality and physical attractiveness on mate desirability“, was co-authored by Daniel Ehlebracht, Olga Stavrova, and Detlef Fetchenhauer.  Source:

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