HBO and Elara are set to collaborate on a two-part documentary about the life and career of the man behind Pee-wee Herman, Paul Reubens, as per Deadline. The project will be directed by Matt Wolf (Spaceship Earth (2020), Teenage (2013)) and produced by the Safdie Brothers, Josh and Benny, Elara’s Sebastian Bear-McClard, and Joker producer Emma Tillinger Koskof. Underneath Pee-wee’s bright and outgoing exterior, Reubens has remained notoriously private about his life. This HBO-Elara project will mark the first ever documentary about the pop-culture icon, in which he opens up about his life’s highs and lows.
The documentary will span the decades of Reubens’ career, from his comedy club beginnings, to the pinnacle of Pee-wee’s stardom and the projects that followed, where Reubens decidedly stepped outside of the happy-go-lucky character mold. Emma Tillinger Koskof shares her enthusiasm over the comedic star, as she says, “He is a once-in-a-generation talent whose brilliance created an indelible pop culture phenomenon. Audiences will be inspired and entertained by Paul’s creativity, resilience and determination as they get to know the person behind the iconic character.”
HBO’s film symbolizes much more than just admiration for Reubens, it’s also a full-circle, collaborative moment for the entertainer and HBO. Back in the 1980s, mere months after Reubens first debuted Pee-wee Herman in a comedy act, HBO produced a special about Reubens’ quirky, fun-loving character, helping to launch his career. Reubens says about the home-entertainment company, “I’ve been working with HBO since they were called Home Box Office! I’m honored and excited to continue my long history there. I love HBO, but I’m not going to marry them.”
Reubens went on to collaborate with a variety of artists on Pee-wee projects, such as Tim Burton in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Paramount’s Big Top Pee-wee (1988) and the TV show Pee-wee’s Playhouse (1986-1990) for CBS. After temporarily retiring Herman to explore more serious outlets with Blow (2001) and Ally McBeal (2001), he re-suited in 2016 for Netflix’s Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, produced by Judd Apatow. Reubens continues to guest star on TV series and still lends his signature voice to animated roles.