“Cars,” the hit Disney-Pixar animated film in 2006 that helped spur new interest in Route 66, wound up being Newman’s last acting film role.
Not long after that film’s release (plus a “Cars” short titled “Mater and the Ghost Light”), Newman announced he was giving up acting because he felt he could no longer perform at his best.
Around the time of the release of “Cars,” Newman explained why he accepted the role of Doc Hudson, the mayor of the fictional Route 66 town of Radiator Springs.
It was quite a casting coup for the folks at Pixar. Not only did it gain a 10-time Oscar nominee for a crucial character as the town’s grizzled and grouchy patriarch, but Newman’s extensive racing background gave the role a lot of credibility as well.
Former professional racer Darrell Waltrip, who has a role in “Cars” as a television announcer, has quite a story about Newman during the film’s premiere at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
My favorite Newman roles were as a drunken lawyer in “The Verdict” and as a crusty blue-collar worker in “Nobody’s Fool.” He had about 50 films to his credit, which isn’t a high number for a man who worked for so long. But he chose his roles so well, he made an indelible impression on Hollywood anyway.