Paul Newman Winding Down Acting Career

Friday, March 11th 2005, 10:55 am
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) _ At 80, Paul Newman is considering retirement.

The movie legend, whose golden looks and piercing blue eyes have lit up screens for five decades, says he plans to give up the activities he once described as his two great passions _ acting and motor racing.

``I think both are winding down,'' Newman told The Associated Press during an interview in London Friday. ``I'll probably race for another year.''

Fans of the iconic star of ``The Hustler'' and ``Cool Hand Luke'' need not despair just yet. Newman says he plans to make one last film _ ``Just one more for good luck.''

He won't say what it is, but hints that a long-rumored reunion with Robert Redford, his co-star in ``Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'' and ``The Sting,'' may yet happen.

``I hate to talk about anything until the papers are drawn up, but we've been looking for something for 20 years and now we're looking harder,'' Newman said. ``I hope something will come of it.''

Newman, whose film career began in 1954 with ``The Silver Chalice'' _ a creaky costume drama he quickly disowned _ has been a keen motorsports fan since he starred in the 1968 racing film ``Winning'' and still competes regularly. In January he escaped injury when the car he was testing caught fire following a spin at Daytona International Speedway.

But he says he plans to give up the thrill of the track to spend more time with his wife of 47 years, Joanne Woodward.

``Joanne is the artistic director of the Westport Country Playhouse'' _ a theater near the couple's Connecticut home _ ``and her duties will stop this year,'' Newman said. ``If my racing stops, the two of us will be together, spend some time just horsing around.''

In London to promote a deal between his Newman's Own range of salad dressings and fast-food giant McDonald's, Newman sat Friday in a McDonald's branch on London's busy Oxford Street, surrounded by fast-food executives and a British television crew.

The actor turned 80 in January; he moves a little stiffly and strains to hear occasionally. But his clear skin and sparkling eyes are as vivid as ever, and his passion for his business and charitable work is undimmed.

Newman's salad dressings, pasta sauces and popcorn have raised $175 million for charity since the actor and his friend A.E. Hotchner started the company as a lark in 1980, offering Newman's homemade dressing for sale in a few shops near his Westport, Conn. home.

The company now has a headquarters staff of 18 and produces dozens of products, from steak sauce to lemonade. Newman says he still tastes every batch of their products, and all profits go to charity.

The company has supplied McDonald's restaurants in the United States with salad dressing since 2003; a range of low-fat Newman's Own dressings will be available in British, Irish and Danish branches of the chain starting in June.

Regularly voted among the greatest movie stars of all time _ he ranked No. 1 in a 2001 British survey of screen legends _ Newman has been nominated nine times for acting Oscars, and won the best actor prize in 1986 for ``The Color of Money.''

But he says he is proudest of his charity work, especially the Hole in the Wall summer camps for seriously ill children in the United States, Britain, Ireland, Israel, France and southern Africa.

The robustly liberal actor dismisses Internet rumors he plans to run against Connecticut's conservative Democratic senator, Joe Lieberman. ``It'd be lunatic to try to get into politics at my age. I don't think I'd have the stomach for it.''

But he says he is worried by the policies of the Bush administration.

``I wish I felt a little more comfortable about the direction that we're going,'' Newman said carefully. ``It does not seem to be of the people, by the people and for the people. It seems to be about something else completely different.

``I think part of it is the media's fault for not being more aggressive and persistent and nasty and I think it's the people's fault for not paying attention. That's not a good combination. It allows people in government to do pretty much what they want.''