|Mon, Aug. 12, 2002
CINEMA ICON EASTWOOD'S WORK TAKES HONEST LOOK AT AGING
By Glenn Whipp
Los Angeles Daily News
Now 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.
Eastwood -- 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
Q The 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
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
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
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
of his career,
facing his demons from past mistakes and missed opportunities.
It's a lot of fun to explore.
Q Paul Rodriguez, who has a part in ``Blood Work,''
was the latest to marvel at how fast you shoot
a film. You've
been a man of economy, going all the way back to
``A Fistful of Dollars'' (1964), where you actually
to give you fewer lines.
A That was all about economy of character. In the
original script for that movie, the character explained
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
soon you find
that actors don't really act the first five or
six takes because they know you're just cruising
the other way,
and it keeps actors stimulated.
Q Does 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
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!
all you're going to do with that?'' They were
used to somebody finicking around and the assistant director
coming up, saying, ``I've
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.
Q How did that work with Meryl Streep on ``The
Bridges of Madison County''?
A When I showed her the rough cut, she said,
``Gosh, that's just wild. You even printed
And I said,
``Yeah, but your mistakes are better than a
lot of people's good
Q What's the worst thing you've had to do for
A You know, I'd have to say those cigars
I smoked for Leone (in ``A Fistful of Dollars,''
a Few Dollars
and ``The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'').
cigars were so ugly.
I didn't smoke; I just picked them because
they looked right. Boy they were godawful.
gag a maggot.
Q And 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
my pocket so I'd have
different lengths at all times. Whatever
the scene called for, I'd
it. But as soon as the take was over, you
can bet that cigar was under my foot.
Q What are you listening to these days?
A Last night, we went to a church in Carmel
where a guy named Jim Martinez was playing
versions of religious hymns. They were
great.You've got to seek these people
out. They're not making music for adults any
the Pink and
kind of stuff.
Q Do your daughters like Pink and Britney?
A Oh, they love all that crap
Q So, 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
sequence, so I could
never really wander off and have
Q A good reason just to direct this
A You bet! (Laughs) I think the
days of doing both are coming to
Q Do 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
I guess that's
the beauty of it, trying to make
all come together
and have luck smile on you one more time.