‘Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain’ Explained: Why Did Bourdain Commit suicide?


Directed by Morgan Neville, Roadrunner: A Film about Anthony Bourdain sheds light on the troubled life of the renowned chef and travel documentarian and makes us privy to the kind of internal conflicts he had to face throughout his life. We got to know that behind all that glamor and glitter was a deeply troubled man who was never able to make peace with himself. So, let’s find out what kind of man Anthony Bourdain was and what the issues were that troubled him so much that they led to his fateful end.

How Did Bourdain Become A Travel Documentarian?

Anthony Bourdain had become quite accustomed to the hectic life of a chef, but Roadrunner showed us how, deep down, he was still a poet who liked articulating things in the best possible manner whenever he got a chance. It could be said that Bourdain’s talent was discovered by his friend Joel Rose and his wife Karen Rinaldi when they read an email sent by him. They were awestruck by reading how fluidly his thoughts flowed and how effectively he could narrate instances while making them utterly interesting. They asked Bourdain if he wanted to write a book, and the chef agreed almost instantly, as he had a zillion fascinating stories to tell that were inspired by the experiences he had working in the kitchen. That’s how the bestseller “Kitchen Confidential” came into being, and it put Bourdain on the charts overnight. He met Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia around that time, who asked him if he wanted to host a travel show, and that’s how another phase of his career kicked off, which changed his life entirely.

Once Anthony Bourdain hosted his first show, Cook’s Tour, which was directed by Collins and Lydia and produced by Matthew Barbato, there was no stopping him. Things were fine at first, but with time, Bourdain started to have a lot of creative differences with the directors, and he always wanted to have his way. People who worked with Anthony said that the best way to deal with him was to lead from behind and let him take charge of things if he wanted. The life of the chef-turned-storyteller/tv host didn’t turn out the way he would have wanted, and he always carried a huge burden on his shoulders. When his professional life prospered, his personal life suffered, and over a period of time, due to various internal issues, things started taking a toll on him.

Why did Anthony Bourdain Commit suicide?

There is no one simple answer for this question: there never is, but nobody expected that Anthony would take such a step. The people who were close to him still feel like it was yesterday when he was sitting with them and narrating one of his fascinating experiences. Anthony never wanted to have kids, but with his second wife, Ottavia Busia Bourdain, he did end up having children. After watching the documentary, we came to the realization that Bourdain was never meant to lead a family life because his choices were such that they did end up creating a rift between him and his partner, even if there was nothing fundamentally wrong with the relationship.

Anthony was a loving father, and he was a good husband, but still, his relationships suffered because of the nature of his work and his expectations, which never really matched reality. Anthony had an unrealistic idea of how life should be, and he had the habit of romanticizing everything that came his way. Obviously, the reality was much harsher and often in stark contrast to whatever he expected it to be, and that’s where the problems arose. Bourdain was always traveling, and amidst his hectic schedule, he didn’t have time for anyone. Anyone who saw Ottavia and him during the time when they first met wouldn’t have been able to imagine that a day would come when they would no longer wish to stay with each other. Though their relationship ended, they were still cordial and there was no conflict regarding the custody of the kids.

Bourdain found love for a third time when he met the actress, Asia Argento, and soon they came in a relationship. Things went downhill when Bourdain found out that Asia was having an alleged affair with a journalist named Hugo Clement, and that really shattered him. Though the news of his partner indulging in infidelity (which Asia Argento never agreed to) was not the sole reason for his decision to commit suicide, it could be said that maybe it was one of the most prominent ones that triggered him to that level where he felt like he didn’t have anything to look forward to. But Anthony did have a lot of other problems. Somewhere, his trips to places like the Congo and other third-world countries had left a huge imprint on his subconscious. He often asked who was benefiting from this entire ordeal, as he saw that the gap between the rich and the poor was only widening. He had told Chris and Lydia that he didn’t want to do the show any longer as he felt that he was not helping anybody through it.

Anthony could never stay apolitical, and he often detested how the capitalist mindset didn’t even hesitate to make a profit out of someone else’s adversity. Chris and Lydia told him that if he thought that he wanted to stop doing the show, he should do that, but Anthony was more stuck than he actually realized. He had gotten to know that he was not doing well, but he was inept enough to amp up his morale and try to find a solution to his internal conflicts that were eating him alive. His shows had won Emmys; he had become an influential person; he was famous; he was rich, but still, he was aching from within. He was at war with himself, and no matter which city he went to, his angst and his anxieties always followed him. Anthony would have felt extremely lonely in those last days, and only if he had known how much he meant to people around him, he would have been able to defeat his inner demons.

On June 8, 2018, Anthony Bourdain decided that he had had enough and hanged himself to death. To date, his close ones think about what they could have done differently to make him more hopeful and change his mind. We couldn’t even imagine how much pain he endured before taking the decision to end his life, and how we wish somebody could have been there to tell him that whatever he was going through would pass and there would be brighter days. The chef-turned-travel documentarian touched the lives of hundreds of people, and if he had known how much the world respected and loved him, maybe he would have tried to live for them if not for himself.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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