Academy award and Emmy award winning director Morgan Neville illuminates the life and career of the late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, who died in 2018. Focus Features will release ‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ in theaters this summer on July 16.
This won’t be Neville’s first documentary. He holds an Oscar for Best Documentary for his work in 20 Feet From Stardom, a film about the life of back-up singers. Additionally, Neville is known for his 2018 Won’t You Be My Neighbor about the late children’s television host Fred Rogers.
Remembering Anthony Bourdain, World Renown Culinary Rockstar
A legendary globe trotter, a quick-witted observer and curious soul, Anthony Bourdain remains an American staple. After his death, people remember him as a lover of cultures and the various foods that come with them. Equally important, Bourdain gave fans around the world the gift of curiosity. By travelling around the lesser-known pockets of the world, the chef journalist taught us about different cultures and cuisine. Wearing the many hats of chef, author, journalist, and travel documentarian, Bourdain showed the world that there’s a beauty in our differences. And it’s something he’s had a knack for from a young age.
In 1978, Bourdain graduated from The Culinary Institute of America. This lead to his involvement in various professional kitchens throughout his career. Bourdain became an executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan, a Parisian delight. He then gained notoriety 2000 after his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
The success of Bourdain’s book pivoted him to the direction of travel television, which is what most of us know him for. He had A Cook’s Tour on Food Network and hosted Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel’s culinary and adventure program. Eventually, he made the switch to travelogue programming on CNN for Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (2013-2018). This fan favorite show focuses on the raw natures of other countries as well as their various cuisines, cultures, and politics.
Bad Boy Chef With An Appetite For Danger
Like the sweet-and-burning paradox that is an onion, this man has layers to him. Raw, unfiltered, and authoritarian in his tone, Bourdain remains humble to the rest of the world but a ‘bad boy’ by Hollywood standards. In an attempt to be as genuine as possible in Parts Unknown, Bourdain felt no desire to hold back exactly what he was thinking, feeling, or saying. Profanity and sexual references were recurring tidbits of the show. The network forced viewer-discretion advisories to each episode for this very reason.
Breaking the standard ‘cookie cutter’ mold of the American chef with a spotless studio kitchen, Bourdain was visibly different. He wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty and try some of the world’s most mysterious culinary endeavors. I’m talking about blood sausages from Finland, sheep testicles from Morocco, a live cobra from Vietnam, and a fermented shark in Iceland. Bourdain walked so Yes Theory could run.
Aside from his daring and bold voyages, the celebrity chef did not care about winning a popularity contest. Actually, he’s had some pretty famous celebrity feuds. Before becoming a celebrity chef, Bourdain expressed disdain for Alan Richman, Alice Waters, and other food demigods. He was sarcastic to vegan and vegetarian activists, labelling them as ‘rude’ to the natives of other countries.
Bourdain also struggled with drug addictions in the past. He grew up with his friends getting high, and made note that many of his decisions were influenced by drugs. In his Kitchen Confidential book he openly talks about his long time cocaine and heroin addictions. However, he fought his addictions and eventually recovered from them.
What We Know About The Documentary
Neville’s documentary is a deep dive of Bourdain’s career, all the way until his death by suicide in 2018. His death came as a shock to many, as Bourdain has touched more lives than he could know. Not only did he uncover the traditions and cultures of the world, but he provided a platform and outlet for disparaging countries. Through his passion and lust for indulgence, he offered the world a global education. The life and legacy of the late chef is still being remembered by many, and this film is a perfect reminder for that.
“Anthony Bourdain did more to help us understand each other than just about anyone in the history of television,” says Neville after accepting his Oscar award. “To have the opportunity to tell his story is humbling. CNN is in the DNA of Tony’s work, and the perfect partners in this journey. I’m thrilled to be reteaming with Focus Features after our journey on Won’t You Be My Neighbor?. I am also happy that HBO Max will make sure Tony’s audience only continues to grow.”
Roadrunner will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 11 before the July 16 release. After its theatre run, the film will be available on HBO Max and CNN, which are the executive producers of the film.