Stephen David, who has produced a new mini-series on Hugh Hefner’s life, hopes to highlight the Playboy founder’s contribution to the American cultural landscape. David says working on American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story, available on Amazon Prime Video, was a dream come true as it gave him a chance to explore the media mogul’s lesser known side.
“You really can’t overstate how much Hef did for bringing sexuality into the mainstream. Before Playboy, sex was something that you just didn’t talk about.
“America was a very repressive place after World War II, and Hef was a huge part of breaking down those societal stigmas and barriers. Without Hef and Playboy, there wouldn’t have been a sexual revolution,” David told PTI in an interview from New York.
The producer, however, believes that Hefner has been equally serious about a number of social issues, concerning race, gender and freedom of speech.
“Our hope is that the series will prompt people to really re-examine Hef’s life, and grasp a better understanding of the many social causes he championed, and often, led the charge on. But there’s no question that Playboy has made its mark on the cultural landscape.”
The producer says having access to Playboy’s resources and Hefner’s personal archives for the series helped them understand the media personality’s life.
“The game changer for us on this project was having the unprecedented access to Playboy’s resources and Hef’s personal archives. Being able to tap into this never-seen-before material really elevated things for us.”
Stephen says despite Hefner’s involvement in the project, the series will be an objective portrayal.
“I think people will realise what we came to realise very early on in this project – Hef is very self-aware, and he’s able to look back on his life with incredible recall and a certain amount of objectivity,” he says.
He believes they got lucky with the casting of Matt Whelan as he bears a close resemblance to young Hefner.
“Hef was a big part of the casting decision. When we found Matt Whelan, everyone was just blown away – in addition to being a great actor, Matt just looks so much like a young Hef.
“When Hef saw the casting tape, he had the same reaction we had. We all knew that Matt was our guy,” he says.