The Last Movie Paul Newman Filmed Before His Heartbreaking Death

The definitive Paul Newman anthology encapsulates nearly half a century of great films. From his breakout role in "The Silver Chalice" (1954) to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) and on, the actor built an unparalleled legacy that became a piece of his own eternal flesh and blood. 14 years after his death, Newman is still heralded as one of the greatest icons of the silver screen to ever live (via Biography). 

Just as every saga has a beginning, an end is sure to follow. Paul Newman's acting career was defined by grace and luster, and it ended accordingly. Ascertaining a monumental final act isn't always an easy endeavor, but the last role Newman took on turned out to be one of his best performances ever. In 2002, he executed his final cinematic effort when he appeared in Sam Mendes' crime thriller "Road to Perdition," as Screen Rant reports. 

Road to Perdition was Paul Newman's final film

Alongside Tom Hanks, Daniel Craig, and Jude Law, Paul Newman brought Max Allan Collins' 1998 graphic novel to life under the command of revered "American Beauty" director Sam Mendes. "Road to Perdition" tells the story of Michael Sullivan (Hanks), the prized henchman, assassin, and adopted son of 1930s mob king pin John Rooney (Newman). After a hit gone awry, Rooney's biological son Connor (Craig) takes it upon himself to slay Sullivan's wife and son in order to keep the truth of the scandal at bay. Sullivan flees with his remaining son as those he once trusted and considered family pursue him in an effort to finish the job (per IMDb). 

What follows is a harrowing crusade of revenge, reconciliation, and betrayal that puts John Rooney in the crosshairs of a moral conundrum. Can he, in good conscience, oversee the brutal execution of a man he raised as his own son and brought into the fold of his crime-ridden enterprise? Newman's performance as a tender-hearted mob boss who can't make sense of the chaos that is unfolding at his feet was revered by critics and moviegoers alike as a sensational capstone to his cinematic contributions (via Screen Rant). 

Road to Perdition's reception by fans and critics

"The opportunity to just sit and watch Paul Newman work was just joyous," co-star Jude Law said of the man he admitted was one of his idols. "His artistry, his charity — he's the blueprint, really." By and large, "Road to Perdition" was warmly received by critics and moviegoers, according to Rotten Tomatoes. It was especially noted for its tactful and alluring cinematography as well as its engaging story. Initially, DreamWorks aimed to release two more sequels, but plans to do so were ultimately discarded (via Screen Rant). 

In his own critical dissection of the film, the late Roger Ebert expressed ambivalent appreciation for "Road to Perdition." He noted the exceptional cinematography and sincere performances by its stars, and furthermore remarked that he "admired it, but I didn't know if I liked it. I am still not sure." For a time, Paul Newman enjoyed the success of the film and was able to look back on it as his final tour de force in acting, but only six years after its release, his life would sadly come to a close. 

Paul Newman died in 2008

On September 27, 2008, The New York Times declared: "Paul Newman, one of the last of the great 20th-century movie stars, died Friday at his home in Westport, Conn. He was 83. The cause was cancer." During his life, Newman appeared in over 60 films, directed numerous others, and received two Academy Awards, according to Britannica. He also devoted his personal time to numerous philanthropic projects and established his own organic food company, Newman's Own, whose profits still go to different charities. 

Paul Newman fathered six children — one of whom (Scott Newman) tragically died in 1978 — and was admired for his devotion to his family (via IMDb). "There is not a day I go to any of our camps around the globe that I don't feel his presence," Clara Newman, the late actor's daughter, told Closer Weekly. "It really does make me feel closer to him. It's almost hard for me because I miss him so much."