There have been several movies involving Playboy magazine’s iconic chief, but what makes Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel stand out is the willingness with which the octogenarian lets it all hang out.
“I have said on a number of occasions that my life is an open book with illustrations, but there is this other half,” said Hefner, subject of Brigitte Berman’s latest documentary. “What makes this (film) unique is Brigitte’s approach, which is telling the other half.”
To many, Hefner has been solely aligned with images of nude women wearing bunny ears thanks to his half-century-old men’s magazine. However, as Berman’s documentary points out, the pajama-wearing icon has stood at the forefront of civil rights and free speech — distinctions that have mostly been displaced by a hedonistic caricature.
“My life is an inkblot test,” admitted Hefner. “You ask six people what they think Hefner’s all about or what Playboy’s all about, you’ll get six different answers.”
One surprising characteristic about Playboy’s founder is the sentiment he retains for his youth. Notorious for keeping scrapbooks and artifacts, Hefner allows a glance into years of archival footage and memories that remain as sharp as they were decades ago for the legend.
“It was a childhood filled with games of imagination and my home was the home where the kids came to play and I invented the games — it’s pretty much the same thing going on now,” laughed Hefner. “I’m still in pajamas like I was back when I was a kid!”