There are few women who were better suited to play the brilliant, socially inept scientist Amy in the movie “Inside Llewyn Davis” than Joanne Woodward. (Woodward was nominated for an Academy Award for her role.) But why? Well, accurate or not, she played it expertly, with an indelible combination of intelligence, stubbornness, and loneliness. It may be hard to believe now, but Woodward started out as just another pretty blonde actress.
She wasn’t even that talented at first––Woodward admits she got very few breaks early on in her acting career because of her looks rather than talent. And some said that early on during the production of “The Three Faces of Eve,” director Nunnally Johnson asked her if she was getting too much credit for playing two roles when in fact, the real star of the show should’ve been one Joanne Woodward.
But like all great actors, Joanne Woodward had more than beauty and smarts––she had talent, drive, ambition, and intellect that allowed her to transform herself into anything she wanted. Something which is evident when you look at some of her early roles (in “Rally Round The Flag Boys,” “Rachel & The Stranger” and “Whirlpool”) compared to later ones (“A New Kind Of Love”), where it’s easy to see just how far she came as an actress. It also helps that Woodward married Paul Newman after being together for roughly 13 years.
But what exactly did Joanne Woodward learn from Newman that every woman can benefit from if applied correctly? To put it simply, she learned how to be less of a people pleaser and more of her own person, something that too many women work on later in life rather than sooner. A perfect example is when Woodward was asked by an interviewer about the fact that she only started wearing makeup recently at the recommendation of Paul Newman––who pointed out to her that he liked his ladies au naturel.
Joanne’s response to the question was priceless: “I never wore make-up before, but my husband likes it, so now I do.” It may seem like an innocuous statement but think about it for a second; here you have one of the most talented actresses in history only just deciding to start wearing makeup because her husband likes it.
And while that’s not an entirely bad thing, you can’t help but wonder how different Woodward might’ve looked throughout her career if she had started earlier and maybe even worn a little more eye-shadow or lipstick at certain points instead of looking the same in every role she played. For all we know, Woodward’s career might’ve turned out to be much different if she had adopted a more eye-catching look earlier on in her life.
But Joanne Woodward didn’t want that––and who can blame her? She married the man of her dreams and wore the clothes he preferred. No matter what anybody else thought, Woodward was happy with the choices she made. That’s not to say that every woman should marry a man or work on her appearance before doing what she wants but rather that if you do make any big life decisions, make sure you consider your own happiness and don’t compromise it for anyone else.
Where Was Joanne Woodward Raised?
Joanne Woodward was raised in a small town that’s not too far from where I grew up. In fact, had my family stayed there a few more years instead of moving away when I was five, chances are good we might’ve ended up seeing her around the neighborhood on occasion. But while some people go on to live their childhood dreams in small towns, Joanne Woodward never did.
After getting her high school diploma at the age of 16, she headed off to New York City––the place that would change her life forever. I guess when you’re born into a family where your father’s an automotive inventor who holds 80 patents and your mother is a former fashion model who went to college on a scholarship, you have no choice but to set off towards bigger horizons where your talents can be recognized more easily.
Joanne Woodward was picked from thousands of young actresses auditioning for the role in “The Three Faces of Eve,” and this alone helped start her career. While some women spend years trying to break into acting, Woodward succeeded with a single role and a little bit of luck. But it wasn’t just her beauty or acting talent that got Woodward noticed for this particular part; it was also her ability to cry on command every time they needed her during rehearsals.
There’s no doubt in my mind that if she hadn’t been able to do that, Woodward might’ve been passed over for another, a more emotional actress with a history of crying on command in similar roles.
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward met during the filming of “The Long Hot Summer” in 1958. While most men would be satisfied with just one woman at a time, Newman had three different wives throughout his life, so I guess he was feeling pretty feisty back then––or perhaps he just really liked to marry beautiful actresses.
Whatever the case, Newman must’ve done something right because Joanne Woodward never took off her wedding ring for even a day before his death. And while he was alive, the two of them acted in several other films together, including “The Drowning Pool,” “Mr. and Mrs. Bridge,” “Fort Apache, The Bronx,” and “Harry & Son.”
During the filming of “Harry & Son,” Woodward and Newman decided to adopt a child together. They took in a baby boy and named him Elinor after Woodward’s mother while calling Newman “Pop” from then on––and he called her “Muffet” when they weren’t busy acting. The two raised their daughter until Newman’s death in 2008.
Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman were an amazing match even when they weren’t acting on the screen together. Their love story is one of my favorites because they seemed so perfect for each other from the beginning ’till the end. Even though most people didn’t approve of their relationship at the time. But who cares about what other people think? They were happy, and that’s all that mattered.
Nominated for Four Academy Awards with One Win
Joanne Woodward was nominated for four Academy Awards and won the award in 1963. For those of you unfamiliar with how acting awards work, getting nominated means that she was one of many actresses considered for an award that year, whereas winning indicates that she beat out all other actresses that were also nominated.
In fact, it’s a bit embarrassing that Woodward only won once considering the four nominations she received over the course of her career––especially when you consider how many awards Susan Sarandon’s won (a grand total of zero) despite not even coming close to Woodward’s number of nominations.