"I think we're all inspired and hypnotized by a lifelong love affair, and how you make love stay, make it last," said Ethan Hawke about the couple.
Paul Newman, an iconic star, was known for his looks. His posthumous memoir, Paul Newman: The Extraordinary Life of An Ordinary Man, gives his wife, Joanne Woodward, the credit for being a sex symbol. "Joanne gave birth to a sexual creature," says Newman. "We left a trail of lust all over the place. Hotels and public parks and Hertz Rent-A-Cars," he says, as reported by PEOPLE. He is remembered for his roles in movies such as Hud, Cool Hand Luke, and Butch Cassidy and, the Sundance Kid.
The memoir includes long-lost interviews which happened a few years ago. He talks about his insecure adolescence in Shaker Heights, Ohio, where he had to take permission to play on the high school football team. Girls didn't take him seriously. "I felt like a goodman freak," he says. "Girls thought I was a joke. A happy buffoon."
Things changed for the Oscar winner in 1953 when he met Woodward. They met for the first time while costarring in the Broadway play Picnic. "I went from being not much of a sexual threat to something else entirely," recalled the actor. He was already married to his first wife Jackie Witte and had three children with her. He describes that time as "brutal in my detachment from my family."
Joanne and Newman worked again in 1957's The Long, Hot Summer. He divorced his first wife in 1958 to marry Woodward. She had won an Academy for Best Actress for her role in The Three Faces of Eve, the previous year. They had three children together: Nell Newman, Melissa Newman, and Clea Newman.
Their relationship was complicated often due to Newman's heavy drinking. "Joanne and I still drive each other crazy in different ways," writes Newman in the book. "But all the misdemeanors, the betrayals, the difficulties have kind of evened themselves out over the years." Newman died at 83 in 2008 due to lung cancer. Now 92, Woodward, who has Alzheimer's' lives in their house in Westport, Connecticut.
Ethan Hawke spoke about being inspired by their enduring love. "I think we're all inspired and hypnotized by a lifelong love affair, and how you make love stay, make it last," he told PEOPLE. "How do you make it mutually nourishing over a lifetime? If any of us knew what that secret ingredient was, we would have an easier time cultivating it in our own lives. But they had a tremendous amount of respect for each other."
"Joanne has a line that I love, where she says, 'I have my ego and he has his ego; then there's this third element called our ego,' the ego of their relationship. If we can each put that first, then we make it, and they seem to do that," he added.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | (L) Hulton Archive; (R) Jim Lord