Rock Hudson’s life as a closeted Hollywood icon is now captured in documentary “Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed.”
Helmed by Stephen Kijak (“We Are X,” “Shoplifters of the World”), the HBO film charts the “Giant” heartthrob’s career as an actor of the studio system until his final role in “Dynasty” ahead of his 1985 death from AIDS.
Among the most iconic Hollywood men of the 1950s and ’60s, Rock Hudson embodied masculinity and straightness until his diagnosis and death from AIDS in 1985 shattered those notions in the eyes of the public. “Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed” tells the story of Hudson as a man who lived a double life; while his public persona was meticulously curated by his handlers, controlled by the studio system, and falsely anchored by a lavender marriage, Hudson had to keep his homosexuality behind closed doors due to anti-gay sentiments at the time, and because the revelation of which would’ve shattered his career.
The documentary features interviews from Hudson’s past partners, colleagues, and close friends. Personal photographs and home videos are also included. “All That Heaven Allowed” is named in reference to Hudson’s breakout role in Douglas Sirk’s “All That Heaven Allows” opposite Jane Wyman.
When tabloid rumors about his sexuality began to swirl, his marriage to his manager’s secretary Phyllis Gates briefly put to bed any speculation about his lifestyle. And he was still able to find success in romantic leading roles, including opposite Doris Day in the comedies “Pillow Talk” and “Lover Come Back” before he turned to television in the ‘70s with a successful run on “McMillan and Wife.”
Hudson was one of the most popular actors in the world when he was diagnosed with AIDS; his death changed the course of history around the public perception of the disease, and led to Elizabeth Taylor founding amFAR.
The documentary is produced by George Chignell, Will Clarke, Carolyne Jurriaans, Greg Berlanti, and Sarah Schechter.
“Rock Hudson: All That Heaven Allowed” premieres on HBO and Max June 28. Check out the trailer below.