Mon, Aug. 12, 2002
ICON EASTWOOD'S WORK TAKES HONEST LOOK AT AGING
By Glenn Whipp
that his long-awaited film of Michael Connelly's ``Blood
Work'' is in the theaters, we caught up with Clint Eastwood
at his Malpaso Productions office on the Warner Bros. lot
in Burbank, where he is casting his next movie: ``Mystic
River,'' an adaptation of a thriller by Dennis Lehane.
-- who at 72 still represents ``lonely, stubborn individualism''
in American film, as Newsweek once put it -- was in great
spirits, enthusing about the ways he can use his maturity
to his advantage and reminiscing about some of the more-storied
aspects of a career that has included 44 starring roles and
23 stints behind the camera.
character you play in ``Blood Work'' is a retired FBI agent
who has had a heart transplant. Throughout the movie, everyone's
telling him, ``You don't look so good.''
A Yeah. ``You look like
crap.'' ``You oughta go home and take a nap.'' I was
joking around while we were making it that a guy could
get a complex playing this role.
Q Yet ever since ``Unforgiven'' (1992), you've
played men who, in one way or another, are facing the limitations brought
on by time.
A You know, what the hell. When you
get to a certain age, you just gotta make fun of it.
Q Not every actor wants to take that kind of
honest look in the mirror, though.
A Yeah, most everybody gets the old
Shinola out for the hair and tries to play it younger. But you can't
do that. You've got to be what you are. And that can open a lot of
opportunities. You can play things you couldn't have played 20 or 30
years before, roles that have a person facing up to the choices he
has made over the course of his life.``Unforgiven'' had all that built
in. ``In the Line of Fire'' (1993) followed that with a guy toward
the end of his career, facing his demons from past mistakes and missed
opportunities. It's a lot of fun to explore.
Rodriguez, who has a part in ``Blood Work,'' was the latest
to marvel at how fast you shoot a film. You've always been
a man of economy, going all the way back to ``A Fistful
of Dollars'' (1964), where you actually fought Sergio Leone
to give you fewer lines.
A That was all about
economy of character. In the original script for that
movie, the character explained everything. There was
no mystery to him, and that sense of mystery is essential
in creating good stories and good characters.As for shooting
the films fast, I learned that from Don Siegel. If you
average 15 takes per shot, then pretty soon you find
that actors don't really act the first five or six takes
because they know you're just cruising around. Try it
the other way, and it keeps actors stimulated.
that method ever put people off?
A I remember some studio
guys coming up when we were shooting ``Dirty Harry.''
I had a shot where I had to come down some stairs really
quick and then run across a quarry. Don says, ``OK. Action!''
So I came running down and zipped across this deal, and
he said, ``Print.'' And they were astounded! ``That's
all you're going to do with that?'' They were used to
somebody finicking around and the assistant director
coming up, saying, ``I've got an extra 35 miles back
there who blinked wrong.'' That's nonsense. You've got
to take all the fussiness out of it and make it more
like real life.
did that work with Meryl Streep on ``The Bridges of Madison
A When I showed her the
rough cut, she said, ``Gosh, that's just wild. You even
printed my mistakes.'' And I said, ``Yeah, but your mistakes
are better than a lot of people's good takes.''
the worst thing you've had to do for a movie?
A You know, I'd have
to say those cigars I smoked for Leone (in ``A Fistful
of Dollars,'' ``For a Few Dollars More'' and ``The Good,
the Bad and the Ugly''). Those cigars were so ugly. I
didn't smoke; I just picked them because they looked
right. Boy they were godawful. They'd gag a maggot.
you couldn't blame the director, either.
A (Laughs) I had no one
to blame. I'd cut them in pieces and carry about three
or four in my pocket so I'd have different lengths at
all times. Whatever the scene called for, I'd have it.
But as soon as the take was over, you can bet that cigar
was under my foot.
are you listening to these days?
A Last night, we went
to a church in Carmel where a guy named Jim Martinez was
playing very contemporary jazz versions of religious
hymns. They were great.You've got to seek these people
out. They're not making music for adults any more. The
kids get the Pink and Britney Spears kind of stuff.
your daughters like Pink and Britney?
A Oh, they love all that
next up for you is ``Mystic River.'' And this time, you'll
just be directing?
A Yeah, there was nothing
in it for us senior guys. And with ``Blood Work,'' I
was in almost every sequence, so I could never really
wander off and have a little break.
good reason just to direct this time out.
A You bet! (Laughs) I
think the days of doing both are coming to an end. It's
a lot of work.
you ever wonder, ``Why am I still doing this?''
A You always have those
moments. But I still love telling a good story. Putting
all the elements together -- a good script, a solid group
of actors, a talented crew -- and trying to make it work.
You always need a little luck. And I guess that's the
beauty of it, trying to make it all come together and
have luck smile on you one more time.