Roadrunner: Morgan Neville Talks about his Docu of Anthony Bourdain (See First Trailer)

A first look at Roadrunner, Morgan Neville’s documentary about the late chef-journalist.

A documentary exploring the life and career of culinary celeb-journalist Anthony Bourdain has its first trailer below.

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain is described as “an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at how an anonymous chef became a world-renowned cultural icon” and is from Oscar-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor).

Here’s a first look the poignant preview:

 

The New York chef rose to prominence after the publication of his tell-all book Kitchen Confidential (2000), which led to hosting a series of world travel television shows – most notably Travel Channel’s No Reservations (2005) and CNN’s Parts Unknown (2013). In June 2018, Bourdain was found dead of an apparent suicide by hanging in his hotel room.

Roadrunner debuts in theaters July 16.

Courtesy of Focus Features

Documentarian Morgan Neville didn’t know Anthony Bourdain personally, but he felt close affinity with the globe-trotting chef and author.

Bourdain was “champion of the democratization of food, of treating street foods and ethnic foods seriously, breaking down the border of Michelin star cooking.”

Neville explores the adventurous man who traveled half of every year, from Iran to Congo. But there was  question mark over his life: “How does that happen? How does a guy like that kill himself?”

 

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David Chang, left, and Anthony Bourdain in Morgan Neville’s docu, “Roadrunner.” Focus Features

Tribeca Festival 2021

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, directed by Morgan Neville. Produced by Caitrin Rogers, Morgan Neville. (US) – World Premiere.

Celeb chef. Bestselling author. Global adventurer.

Oscar winner Morgan Neville’s (20 Feet From Stardom) documentary brims with the same energy, curiosity, and humanity that made Anthony Bourdain the superstar whose life touched many viewers all over the world.

A Focus Features release

Photo: 20 Feet from Stardo

June 8, 2020–US celebrity chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room, aged 61, of an apparent suicide.

Bourdain was filming an episode of his CNN series Parts Unknown near Strasbourg in France when he died.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the cable network said in a statement on Friday.

Bourdain was a best-selling food, fiction and nonfiction author.

Neville knew several people in Bourdain’s circle, such as chef David Chang, with whom he worked on the Netflix food series Ugly Delicious.  He saw firsthand the devastating impact of Bourdain’s 2018 suicide on his friends and associates.

Getting those people to open up about his death took time and effort. Neville had previously directed the acclaimed Mister Rogers docu, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, which made it easier for Bourdain’s inner circle to trust Morgan.

The interviews conducted with Chang, chef Éric Ripert, musician John Lurie, his ex-wife and members of Bourdain’s crew were intense: “In some cases, talking to me was the first time they’ve ever talked about it. Many hadn’t burdened their loved ones or friends with going into what it meant to them.”

But Neville made a point to show also the joyful part of the TV host’s life. “It was important that his death not cast a pall over everything,” he says, to emphasize the “funny and outrageous” Bourdain.

Bourdain turned his career into so much more than being a celeb chef. “He talked and wrote about food and travel, but the real subject of his life was himself,” Neville says. “The reason people watch the show was not just because they want to see footage of interesting countries; they want to see it through his eyes.”

Bourdain’s fans had hard time understanding how this passionate humanist could have resorted to suicide.  After his death, it was revealed that he had depressive qualities, OCD, anxiety. He’d been a junkie who never went to rehab, he never dealt with issues.”

The rigor and discipline of kitchen life gave Bourdain a way to deal with his own addiction. But the pressures of being on the road, especially as the father of a young daughter, ultimately proved overwhelming.

“He dreamt a lot about quitting,” Neville says. “He had fantasies about moving to Vietnam and writing books. He even had a book contract to write and thought of taking a year to live there, but obviously he could never bring himself to do it.”

The docu incorporates outtakes from his TV Parts Unknown, along with iPhone footage and unfinished documentary that he began but later abandoned.

The footage from his shows provide intimate moments. “When he would shoot with people, he would open up and talk about himself, just to get other people to open up about themselves,” Neville says. “There was footage of him talking openly about himself with people.”

Bourdain wasn’t just a lover of food and travel, but an obsessive movie and music fan. When Neville started to assemble music for the documentary, he made an 18 hour-long playlist of every song Bourdain had mentioned or written about. “When we budgeted the film, I said, ‘we need money to have a bunch of songs in here, this has to be a film of real music from Tony’s life.”

“He had great taste in music, from Marvin Gay to Iggy Pop to Lydia Lunch and Talking Heads,” Neville says. The docu uses the rousing Jonathan Richman title track and songs by Television, Brian Eno and Hank Williams Sr., and the haunting theme from the David Bowie film Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.

His death hit hard Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme, who reveals he hadn’t been able to make any music since Bourdain’s death. Neville asked him to write a song for the film, which was the first he had recorded since.

Also incorporated are Bourdain’s Instagram stories, which show his dark thoughts at the end of his life. The stories had already disappeared, and they weren’t widely disseminated after his death. “I don’t think anybody’s ever made that connection until this film. That will be something for the viewers to discover for the first time,” Neville says.

Neville didn’t speak to Asia Argento, the famous Italian and international celeb who had a two-year relationship with Bourdain. “I just felt like I wasn’t going to get closer to him by talking to her because she has her own point of view about.” he says. “She says the same thing in every interview. Once you start to get into details of the relationship, it just begs more questions, but they don’t give you  insight into him.”

Neville found one of Bourdain’s tattoos illuminating–it reads in Greek, “I’m certain of nothing.” “That can be a good thing when seek experiences, but the flip side is it means you’re sure of nothing,” Neville says.