(11 of 11)
He believes strongly that "an actor should act." There seemed to be more good scripts when he was younger. Maybe it's that the world has become too bewildering for writers to come to any conclusions. At any rate he has written his first script with a Los Angeles friend, Lawyer-Restaurateur Ron Buck. He will direct and star in Harry and Son, a story about a father's struggle to understand and control a 22-year-old son. No, he says, Harry is not an attempt to deal with his feelings about his son Scott, although he "definitely" intends to make a film about Scott's death. "We were like rubber bands," he says, "one minute close, the next separated by an enormous and unaccountable distance. I don't think I'll ever escape the guilt." As the Westport week ended a few days after the election, Newman wondered whether the nuclear-freeze victory would have any influence on the Reagan Administration ("Probably not") and prepared to fly to Florida to scout locations for Harry and Son.
His friend Gore Vidal, an acute and frequently caustic observer, is notably uncynical in his assessment of Newman: "He has a good character, and not many people do. I think he would rather not do anything wrong, whether on a moral or an artistic level. He is what you would call a man of consciencenot necessarily of judgment, but of conscience. I don't know any actors like that." Susan Newman considers her singular father and says with an innocent smile, "Who knows? None of us in the family has a handle on how Old Skinny Legs made it."
By John Skow.
Reported by Elaine Dutka/New York and Denise Worrell/Los Angeles