CHICAGO – There’s a hush of admiration that only an icon can create like Paul Newman when he steps into the tiny ballroom and walked to the podium where he promotes his new film.
Dozens of tape recorders and microphones cover the table where Newman sits. The 77-year-old actor seems aghast at the media’s anticipation.
“This looks like somebody’s ready to declare war,” he wisecracks.
Newman is still ready for his close-up. There’s still sparkle in those eyes. In “The Road to Perdition,” he plays an Irish mafia boss with remarkable passion. During his press conference, in a rare flash of confidence, he declares, “There’s still a little vinegar left in the old dog.”
When reminded that a few years ago, he hinted that his “swan song” film was near, Newman brushed aside the suggestion.
“I keep trying to retire from everything and discovered I’ve retired from absolutely nothing,” he says. “I was going to get out of racing and I’m back in that. I was going to let somebody else handle all my (Newman’s Own foods) and I’m back in that. I finished my first play in 35 years recently. I don’t seem to be able to retire.”
He pauses and shrugs, “Maybe I need a different swan.”
During his 30-minute appearance, Newman tackles every subject from the widening gap between rich and poor in the United States to comparing English and American actor training, ripping the latter’s lack of emphasis on classics.
What does he enjoy about acting? He considers the answer for 20 seconds.
“I suppose the best actors are like children. And to the extent that you can sustain and maintain that childlike part of your personality is probably the best part of acting.”
And the worst part? Newman scans the room, indicating film promotion.