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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood: Interviews, Revised and Updated

Robert E. Kapsis
Kathie Coblentz
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Clint Eastwood
    Book Description:

    Clint Eastwood (b. 1930) is the only popular American dramatic star to have shaped his own career almost entirely through films of his own producing, frequently under his own direction; no other dramatic star has directed himself so often. He is also one of the most prolific active directors, with thirty-three features to his credit since 1971.

    As a star, he is often recalled primarily for two early roles--the "Man with No Name" of three European-made Westerns, and the uncompromising cop "Dirty" Harry Callahan. But on his own as a director, Eastwood has steered a remarkable course. A film industry insider who works through the established Hollywood system and respects its traditions, he remains an outsider by steadfastly refusing to heed cultural and aesthetic trends in film production and film style. His films as director have examined an eclectic variety of themes, ranging from the artist's life to the nature of heroism, while frequently calling into question the ethos of masculinity and his own star image. Yet they have remained accessible to a popular audience worldwide. With two Best Director and two Best Picture Oscars to his credit, Eastwood now ranks among the most highly honored living filmmakers.These interviews range over the more than four decades of Eastwood's directorial career, with an emphasis on practical filmmaking issues and his philosophy as a filmmaker. Nearly a third are from European sources--several appearing here in English for the first time.

    eISBN: 978-1-62103-069-0
    Subjects: Performing Arts, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xxii)
    REK and KC

    The present volume is the second edition ofClint Eastwood: Interviews; the first edition came out in 1999. In the years since, Eastwood’s thirty-year career as a filmmaker has become a more than forty-year career, and his twenty-plus feature films as director have become more than thirty. The introduction that follows was originally written for the first edition. Like the contents of this volume, it has been revised and expanded.

    Clint Eastwood achieved international stardom in the mid-1960s with an unlikely acting project, a trio of European-made Westerns. Back in the U.S., he embarked on a career as a filmmaker...

  4. Chronology
    (pp. xxiii-xxx)
  5. Filmography
    (pp. xxxi-2)
  6. No Tumbleweed Ties for Clint
    (pp. 3-6)
    Rex Reed

    He was on the phone, talking about the matrix and the looping and all the other things directors talk about when they call the Coast. “The sound is twenty frames ahead of the music and the color processing is wrong on the work print.” Hitchcock? Minnelli? Well, don’t snicker. Would you believe Clint Eastwood?

    He was in New York to publicize his new movie,The Beguiled, a Gothic Civil War horror film in which a group of predatory females feed him poison mushrooms because he steps on a little girl’s turtle. But it was clear that his real interests lay...

  7. Eastwood on Eastwood
    (pp. 7-19)
    Stuart M. Kaminsky

    Clint Eastwood moves quickly. I had been at Universal Studios, where Eastwood’s Malpaso Production Company is headquartered, for three weeks before I could catch up with him. A few nights before I made my third try to catch him at his Universal bungalow, I had seen a preview ofPlay Misty for Me, Eastwood’s first attempt at directing.

    I got through to Eastwood’s producer and associate Bob Daley, who called across to Eastwood and asked if he could squeeze me in before he got in his Sting Ray and headed back to Carmel, where he lives. The interview was set...

  8. Eastwood Direction
    (pp. 20-39)
    Richard Thompson and Tim Hunter

    (This interview was conducted in the summer of 1976 and in December 1977. Jack Shafer generously contributed key suggestions. Dick Guttman arranged the interviews. The authors are grateful to both.)

    Q: How did you start directing?

    A: I first got interested when I was doingRawhide. We were shooting a stampede on location, three thousand head of cattle, and I was riding right in the middle of it, dust flying, really dramatic looking. I went to the director and said, “Look, give me a camera. There’s some great stuff in there that you’re not getting because you’re way out here...

  9. Director Clint Eastwood: Attention to Detail and Involvement for the Audience
    (pp. 40-52)
    Ric Gentry

    “Making a good movie takes a good cast, a good story, and everything else,” Eastwood begins. “But what it comes down to, whether it’s going to be any good or not, is how disciplined you are in keeping the overall concept through the assembling. And it’s tough to do because you look at the film over and over again, and you have to go back to your original instinct in making subsequent decisions.”

    And that’s the primary reason Clint Eastwood likes to work fast once he begins a film, to minimize the duration between the “original instinct” and the final...

  10. Eastwood: An Auteur to Reckon With
    (pp. 53-56)
    Charles Champlin

    Success begets power, but power does not necessarily beget more success in turn, or corporate life would be very dull. The question of what the successful will do with their powers is somehow more suspenseful in the movies than anywhere else because the answers are so visible—ponderous failures or daring and imaginative leaps to further success.

    Clint Eastwood, in his deceptively low-keyed and laid-back way, has used the star power generated initially in other people’s pictures to build an independent production company with a success record that is probably second to none in its return on investment.

    By electing...

  11. Cop on a Hot Tightrope
    (pp. 57-71)
    David Thomson

    Clint Eastwood keeps the same old bungalow at Warners, with subdued light and brown décor, where he can stretch out on a sofa in a T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, yarning away for a couple of hours about doing his movies. It’s all kept at an amiable, easy-going, unpretentious, and unalarming level—hey, come on in, let’s talk. Yet Eastwood is more likely to extend that invitation to Norman Mailer than toTimeorNewsweek. In the last two years, Clint was covered by Mailer forParade, and he was the subject of a lengthy article in theNew York Review...

  12. “Whether I Succeed or Fail, I Don’t Want to Owe It to Anyone but Myself”: From Play Misty for Me to Honkytonk Man
    (pp. 72-92)
    Michael Henry Wilson

    Q: What do you think you’ve learned from filmmakers you collaborated with before you became a director?

    A: I learned a lot, but wouldn’t be capable of distinguishing the contribution of each one. The films of Don Siegel, like those of Sergio Leone, were models of economy. They never went over their allotted budget. That was my school. I’ve made very few pictures where the money was spent without counting, and even when it was, the lesson was useful because I learned what not to do. Each of the filmmakers I worked with taught me something new, or at least...

  13. Clint Eastwood: The Rolling Stone Interview
    (pp. 93-105)
    Tim Cahill and Clint Eastwood

    Precisely two decades ago, a friend of mine insisted I go see a movie about the American West, a film made in Italy and shot partially in Spain. At the time, it was intellectually acceptable to be passionate about Italian films that limned the sick soul of Europe; the idea of an Italian western was oxymoronic—at best, like, oh, a German romantic comedy. What’s more, in America the western as a genre seemed bankrupt, and going to seeA Fistful of Dollars, which featured an international no-star cast headed by Clint Eastwood, some second-banana cowboy on an American TV...

  14. Eastwood on Eastwood
    (pp. 106-111)
    Christopher Frayling

    Frayling: Could we talk about the origins of the “Eastwood style,” in the Spaghetti Westerns of the mid-1960s? In retrospect, they changed both the look and the feel of the traditional Western.

    Eastwood: Yeah, I think they changed the style, the approach to Westerns. They “operacized” them, if there’s such a word. They made the violence and the shooting aspect a little more larger than life, and they had great music and new types of scores. I wasn’t involved in the music, but we used the same composer, Ennio Morricone, inSister Saraand I worked with him a bit...

  15. Flight of Fancy
    (pp. 112-118)
    Nat Hentoff

    Clint Eastwood, I had heard, is somewhat of a jazz buff—otherwise, why would he take the director’s seat forBird, the film biography of jazz great Charlie “Bird” Parker? As it turns out, Eastwood is more than a buff, he’s a downright enthusiast. When he talks about jazz, or Parker in particular, Eastwood’s voice noticeably brightens. Like most moviegoers, I figured the off-screen Eastwood would be a taciturn man. But when he discusses his new film, there is nothing of the “star” about him. Jazz is a subject that opens him up. A pianist who used to play clubs...

  16. Interview with Clint Eastwood
    (pp. 119-130)
    Michel Ciment and Clint Eastwood

    Q: What was the origin ofWhite Hunter, Black Heart?

    A: A fellow by the name of Stanley Rubin, who I’d met a long time ago at the beginning of the fifties when he was a producer at Universal, was working for Ray Stark, and he asked me whether I’d be interested in reading a script that had been hanging around in Columbia’s offices for quite a while along with some others. I think I read it in the plane coming back from France where I had shownBirdand the subject fascinated me. Then I read some later scripts...

  17. Interview with Clint Eastwood
    (pp. 131-141)
    Thierry Jousse, Camille Nevers and Clint Eastwood

    After the vision ofUnforgiven, it seemed to us to be indispensable to meet with Clint Eastwood. We did so at the end of this past August, in the course of an intensive publicity tour. Reserved, humorous, perceptive: Clint Eastwood, the man as he is.

    Q:Unforgivenis a Western relatively different from the ones you have directed or acted in before. Why the desire to take up this genre again, and what would you say is the difference between this one and the others?

    A: I couldn’t tell you exactly why I wanted to make a Western again, because...

  18. Any Which Way He Can
    (pp. 142-155)
    Peter Biskind

    You’re Clint Eastwood, huge box-office star and iconic leading man. In four decades, you haven’t won an Oscar. So you try directing a great movie—and not giving a damn.

    It is 6 p.m. on a Saturday night in Alberta, Canada, on the set ofUnforgiven. Clint Eastwood likes to shoot westerns in the autumn, so the production descended on the town of Longview just as the leaves were beginning to turn. But now it’s four weeks later. The trees are bare, and the production is bumping up against winter.

    The cast and crew are expecting to break for their...

  19. America on the Brink of the Void
    (pp. 156-162)
    Henri Béhar

    InA Perfect Worldthe chief players are a child and his kidnapper (Kevin Costner) on the run. If the film describes an intimate, complex relationship, which allows Clint Eastwood to reflect on the relations between a father and a son, it brings to the screen one of the wounds of American society—and certainly also of ours: the irruption of violence. Furthermore, the film is the occasion for a confrontation between two moralities, two purely American types of hero, two generations of actors. All of this is high stakes, as Clint Eastwood explains here.

    Q: AfterUnforgivenand the...

  20. Q & A with a Western Icon
    (pp. 163-167)
    Jerry Roberts

    After helming nearly twenty films and starring in dozens more, Eastwood’s work as a director and actor has reaped box-office bonanzas and yielded awards all over the world, including an Oscar for his direction of 1992’s Best Picture,Unforgiven. But he’s also got an Oscar on his mantle for producing the esteemed Western pic, and his new Oscar courtesy of receiving the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award is for almost thirty years of producing achievements. “The Man With No Name” has been wearingthreehats since his Malpaso Productions outfit kicked off withHang ’Em Highin 1968.

    This exclusive...

  21. “Truth, Like Art, Is in the Eyes of the Beholder”: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Bridges of Madison County
    (pp. 168-177)
    Michael Henry Wilson

    Q: Many American critics questioned your choice of a material as ambiguous, ironic, polyphonic asMidnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

    A: What amuses me is the state of confusion this country’s critics are in. They keep complaining that we are not making character-driven films like in the 1930s and ’40s, but on the other hand they rave about actiondriven movies that are devoid of any complexity. I think the influence of television has transformed the way movies are perceived. There is a whole generation, the MTV generation, which wants things to keep rolling all the time. You...

  22. A Conversation with Clint Eastwood about Mystic River
    (pp. 178-188)
    Charlie Rose and Clint Eastwood

    Charlie Rose: If the mark of a great director is getting amazing performances from his actors, Clint Eastwood has reached that point. He himself has said, “This is as good as I can do.”Mystic Riveropened the forty-first New York Film Festival on October 3. I’m pleased to have Clint Eastwood on this program for his first solo interview. Welcome.

    Clint Eastwood: Thank you.

    Rose: When you read this book, did you immediately say, “I’ve got to have this? I’ve got to make this? This is the movie I’ve been waiting for?”

    Eastwood: Yes. Yeah, I read it as...

  23. Mystic River: Eastwood, without Anger or Forgiveness
    (pp. 189-192)
    Samuel Blumenfeld

    Samuel Blumenfeld:Mystic Rivercomes out just beforeThe Matrix Revolutions, another Warner Bros. production with an enormous budget. What does Warners think about your film?

    Clint Eastwood: I’m not especially interested in coming in first at the box office. I’m counting on word of mouth. On the set ofMystic River, I often joked that my greatest ally wasMatrix. Warner Bros. was producing the last two parts of the trilogy and had forgotten my picture. They left me alone. It was a low-budget film for them.

    SB:Mystic Riveris very close to the series of social films...

  24. Staying Power
    (pp. 193-205)
    Amy Taubin

    Age has clenched Clint Eastwood’s face tight as a fist, but he has never been more tender, vulnerable, and heartbroken than inMillion Dollar Baby. It’s not surprising that the camera still loves Eastwood’s visage, finding unchanging beauty in the skull beneath the skin. His facial bones, if anything, appear more finely chiseled than in his youth. But the muscles that hold the thinned skin have contracted, pulling brow and eyes down and inward, so that the signature squint is deeper and less yielding, even to laughter. Eastwood never had one of those expressive, easy-to-read faces. He made a virtue...

  25. Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima
    (pp. 206-218)
    Terry Gross

    This isFresh Air. I’m Terry Gross.

    My guest Clint Eastwood has directed two films about one of the bloodiest battles of World War II, the battle of Iwo Jima. The first film,Flags of Our Fathers, showed the battle from the American point of view and told the story behind the famous Pulitzer Prize–winning photo of five Marines planting the flag there. Eastwood’s new film,Letters from Iwo Jima, describes the battle from the perspective of Japanese soldiers. The Japanese soldiers on Iwo Jima were told to expect to die there, and most of them did. About twenty...

  26. The Quiet American
    (pp. 219-225)
    Geoff Andrew

    Geoff Andrew: Last time we met, I suggested that your work seemed to be getting closer to Howard Hawks’s films in its interest in relationships, place, atmosphere, and so on, rather than plot.

    Clint Eastwood: Well, I love Hawks; we’re always interested in his characters. And his pacing:His Girl Friday—how did he do that? But I guess he had Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell, who were trained to talk like that, whereas nowadays actors try to be more realistic. Those days, actors really pumped it out.

    GA: Do you give actors much direction?

    CE: I try to direct...

  27. Do You Feel Lucky, Monk?
    (pp. 226-229)
    Nick Tosches

    It’s one of those curiosities of human nature. No matter how much we achieve in this world, no matter how much life brings us, there are always regrets and pangs of failure.

    “If I’ve had any regret in life, it was not paying more attention to it and not practice, practice, practice.”

    That’s Clint Eastwood talking, and he’s talking about playing the piano. For him, before there were movies, there was the piano.

    He was born in San Francisco in 1930. His father was a steelworker and his mother was a factory worker. And there was a piano.

    “I started...

  28. Clint Eastwood, America’s Director: The Searcher
    (pp. 230-233)
    Scott Foundas

    “You’ve made the first movie of the Obama generation!” exclaimed an audience member, as he rushed up to Clint Eastwood after a recent screening ofGran Torino. “Well,” the seventy-eight-year-old actor-director replied, without missing a beat, “I was actually born under Hoover.” It was an ironic juxtaposition, given that Eastwood’sTorinocharacter, widowed Korean War vet and former Detroit autoworker Walt Kowalski, has earned comparisons to TV’s Archie Bunker, for both his politically incorrect racial epithets and his general hostility toward a modern world that seems to have left him—and his old-fashioned American values—out in the cold. “We...

  29. Eastwood on the Pitch: At Seventy-Nine, Clint Tackles Mandela in Invictus
    (pp. 234-244)
    Scott Foundas

    On a late March morning, the sun sits high in the Cape Town sky, illuminating the trapezoidal monolith of Table Mountain in the distance, while down by the city’s busy waterfront, the players of South Africa’s national rugby union team—the Springboks—go for a training run. Only the careful observer might notice that, on this particular morning, the team’s signature green-and-gold uniforms aren’t of the most recent design, and none of the cars passing by on the waterfront thoroughfare bears a model year newer than 1995. Upon closer inspection, he might also notice a familiar if incongruous figure standing...

  30. Interview with Clint Eastwood: First, Believe in Yourself
    (pp. 245-251)
    Michael Henry Wilson and Clint Eastwood

    Michael Henry Wilson: What prompted you to makeHereafter?

    Clint Eastwood: It was the screenplay by Peter Morgan and the intelligence of its structure. I liked the fact that it incorporates authentic events in a fictional story, like the tsunami of six years ago and the terrorist attacks in the London Underground. And I liked the way each of the three stories develops on its own until they eventually mesh. As if destiny brought them together. I had never attempted something like that. Besides, the script touches on the phenomenon of clairvoyance with seriousness and subtlety, without concealing the fact...

  31. With J. Edgar, Eastwood Again Flexes His Freedom
    (pp. 252-256)
    Scott Bowles

    Peanut shells occasionally litter Clint Eastwood’s office carpet. Eastwood doesn’t eat peanuts. Neither does his staff, which keeps his quarters on the Warner Bros. lot immaculate. The mess belongs to Lola, a squirrel Eastwood lets roam his office and ransack a bag he leaves open on the bottom of a bookcase. She comes through the front door, which Eastwood also leaves open.

    Security has tried to evict Lola with traps and pellet guns, Eastwood says. But no one has said a peep to him about the studio policy that bans animals unless they’re acting. “If you do something long enough,”...

  32. For Further Reading
    (pp. 257-258)
  33. Index
    (pp. 259-275)