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Director, producer and writer Graham Henman spent the early 1990s hanging out in the kitchen after hours with Anthony Bourdain, whom he met by eating at Les Halles — Bourdain’s New York City restaurant — with friends.
Two decades later, Henman adapted Bourdain’s 1995 novel, Bone in the Throat, into the 2015 film of the same name (starring Gossip Girl‘s Ed Westwick and The Crown‘s Vanessa Kirby). Bourdain served as an executive producer. “He was totally supportive and encouraging,” Henman tells The Hollywood Reporter of their experience working together.
He met the late culinary icon — who died at age 61 on Friday after an apparent suicide — several times, and Henman considered him a friend. He says, “Tony was a no BS, street-smart, documentarian, explorer, observer, listener, risk-taker, game-changing pirate.”
Bourdain’s book follows sous chef Tommy Pagano, who works in Little Italy and gets caught up with a mafia-run restaurant. Its film counterpart, produced, directed and co-written by Henman, transplants the story to London with Westwick playing Will, a sous chef at a restaurant called Fork.
The last time Henman saw Bourdain was for an evening pre-screening of Bone in the Throat at Henman’s house. Henman picked him up from the Chateau Marmont, where he was staying for a month while filming another project (“the home away from home for visiting New Yorkers”), and drove Bourdain to his house in Malibu to watch their collaboration.
“He loved it and stayed until dawn, relaxing, sharing stories, listening, drinking and dining with me and my family,” Henman says. “We didn’t discuss the old days. I remember he talked about how he hoped to be working with Darren Aronofsky on an upcoming show. He was a massive cinema fan and was very knowledgeable about cutting-edge directors, cinematographers and filming/editing/sound design techniques.”
Reminiscing about his time knowing the humble television chef, Henman notes, “He didn’t talk too much about himself. He never took over the room. That wasn’t his style.” He adds, “[Bourdain] was about discussing different cultures, different perspectives, different ways of living, and listening to what you had to say. He was always eager to learn and experience new things.”
Henman says his last encounter with Bourdain was “a lovely evening” and “a very special moment in time for me,” telling THR that the Parts Unknown star was a “genuine” person. “We’ve lost a friend,” Henman says, “and a fearless original thinker.”
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