Anthony Bourdain documentary 'Roadrunner' covers extreme highs and lows of chef and TV host who 'was addicted to everything'

Gina Salamone, New York Daily News on

Published in Entertainment News

There’s no happy ending, as the late Anthony Bourdain is heard saying in a new documentary about his life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun along the way.

“Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain,” premiering Friday at the Tribeca Festival, dives into the highs and lows of the chef-turned-TV host and world traveler who tragically took his life three years ago this week.

“Tony was one of the good guys,” Morgan Neville, who directed “Roadrunner,” told the Daily News. “He was fighting the good fight. He was trying to open people’s minds and showing the world to people and showing how, if you break bread with people, we all want the same thing.

“He was a real champion of things that I thought were important in the world of breaking down the hierarchies of food and culture and politics and championing the little guy,” the filmmaker adds.

Neville, who won an Academy Award for “20 Feet from Stardom,” his 2013 documentary about backup singers, says it was also Bourdain’s “punk rock attitude about everything” that drew him to explore his life.

“He had the best taste in movies, in books and music,” Neville said. So as the director combed through footage to use in his film, he jotted down every time Bourdain mentioned a song and created a 19-hour playlist.


“It’s all of Tony’s music,” he added. “And it’s Brian Eno and Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders — it’s all these songs from his whole life, and I gave that to everybody that worked on the film to listen to and the songs on the film come out of that playlist. So the music was another way of getting inside his head.”

To fill in the rest, Neville drew from Bourdain’s onscreen work — including the Food Network’s “A Cook’s Tour,” Travel Channel’s “No Reservations” and CNN’s “Parts Unknown” — using both aired and unseen moments.

He also conducted fresh interviews with many who worked with the former chef on those shows. And he spoke to Bourdain’s friends, brother, and second wife, Ottavia Busia, the mother of his only child, Ariane.

“Roadrunner” viewers will see all the happy moments, from Bourdain playing in the pool with his daughter, to his rise to fame and inspiring world travels. But the film covers his struggles as well, from his past drug addictions to his constant battle to be happy and fulfilled amid the success.


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