Paul Newman left behind an impressive Hollywood legacy and remains one biggest movie stars of all time, nearly 15 years after his death. But that doesn’t mean you need to check out every film he ever made—especially if you consider the actor’s opinion of his own work. Newman hated one of his movies so much that he took out ads begging people not to watch it when it aired on TV. Unfortunately for him, this tactic backfired.
Though he loathed this movie—and his performance in it—Newman’s career didn’t suffer for it. Read on to find out which film the actor disliked so much and what he had to say about it over the years.
Newman’s big screen debut came in 1954 with The Silver Chalice. Before this, the actor had been appearing on TV shows and on stage. In fact, he met his wife of 50 years Joanne Woodward when they both worked on the Broadway play Picnic.
The Silver Chalice is a biblical epic. Newman plays Basil, a Greek artist who is asked to build a silver chalice for the holy grail. The film co-stars Virginia Mayo, Pier Angeli, and Jack Palance.
In 1963, a Los Angeles TV station was set to air The Silver Chalice for several nights. In response, Newman paid $1,200 to take out ads in two local newspapers in which he urged people not to tune in. According to the biography Paul Newman: A Life by Shawn Levy (via By the Gods), Newman wrote in the ads, “Paul Newman apologizes every night this week—Channel 9.”
In Paul Newman: A Life, the actor is quoted as saying of The Silver Chalice, “I was horrified and traumatized when I saw the film. I was sure my acting career had begun and ended with the same picture.” He also said, “It was god-awful. It’s kind of a distinction to say I was in the worst film to be made in the entirety of the 1950s.”
In 1994, decades later, Newman still hadn’t gotten over the movie. “That I survived that picture is a testament to something,” he told New York magazine. Referring to the faux-ancient Greek costumes he had to wear, he continued, “All I had in that movie was those short cocktail dresses. Nero [Jacques Aubuchon] got to wear all the long stuff with the beads. My legs aren’t exactly my best feature.”
Even though he was mortified by the film, Newman actually won an award for his performance in The Silver Chalice. He was named the Most Promising Newcomer—Male at the Golden Globes that year. The film was also nominated at the Academy Awards for its cinematography and score.
Of course, Newman would go on to be celebrated many more times from there, for movies he greatly preferred to his feature film debut. He was nominated for 10 Oscars during his career, including for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Hustler, and Cool Hand Luke. He won the Best Actor award for The Color of Money in 1987.
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