Trevor Hogg profiles the career of Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood in the fifth of a five part feature (read parts one, two, three and four)...
“Maybe the title of Space Cowboys  is a bit misleading because it is mostly about the pioneers of space,” stated Clint Eastwood when discussing the story about four former test pilots from the 1950s who decades later get an opportunity to go into outer space. “We were not really cowboys, but these men who did all the pioneering in the 1950s were going to the frontier of space in planes they were not sure could make it. They were being rocketed along on the ground faster than the speed of sound to see if the human body could take it, so I would say that the film is something of a homage to those gentlemen.” The action thriller with a production budget of $65 million stars Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones (The Fugitive), Donald Sutherland (Klute), James Garner (Murphy’s Romance), James Cromwell (Babe), Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing), William Devane (Marathon Man), Loren Dean (Enemy of the State), Barbara Babcock (Far and Away), and Courtney B. Vance (The Hunt for Red October).
“I think there is a lot made of age, and what age you feel. I am about 12 and the rest of the guys [Jones, Sutherland, and Garner] are about 14. None of us sit and dwell on the age thing, and this particular film does deal with a sort of resurrection of some people who were very active in the 1950s in the space program and did not get to go on the journey. It does have that sort of appeal - people getting a second chance in life.” Making life a lot easier for the American filmmaker was the attitude of a particular American government agency. “NASA was extremely co-operative and allowed us to play with a lot of their toys. We used their space shuttle cockpit simulator and virtual reality rooms. We could not have done the film as efficiently or as inexpensively without their co-operation.” Eastwood had to incorporate computer generated characters into the outer space scenes for practical reasons. “You couldn’t really send anyone out there! It works terrifically but sometimes the toys start running the factory and that’s what has happened now.” Space Cowboys earned $179 million worldwide, received an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Editing and won Best Foreign Language Film at the Mainichi Film Concours.
Los Angeles crime novelist Michael Connelly captured the attention of the native of San Francisco with a story about an F.B.I. profiler recovering from a heart transplant, who hunts a serial killer. “He made a preemptive strike on it before I was done with the book,” recalled Connelly when discussing how Clint Eastwood came to cinematically adapt Blood Work (2002). “We met and talked about things he thought I might want to consider changing because they would not be that way in the movie. It was an interesting conversation.” The author learned something else during the meeting, “He told me that I wouldn't hear from him again until he made the movie. That's the kind of filmmaker he is. He has his own team and so forth, and he was true to his word. Four years went by and I never heard anything. Then the script was delivered to my house; I got excited about it after four or five years of anxiety about what would happen. Eastwood is 25 years older than the guy in the book and that was a big thing about how that would be dealt with. The script catered to his age now as opposed to him trying to pass for a much younger man; that was a relief. I did have some minor thoughts and notes, but I didn't think I would have the opportunity to voice them. Then he [Eastwood] called me out of the blue and asked what I thought of the script. I ended up sending him four pages of notes and he responded, saying he agreed and liked the notes; he said, ‘I'm going to use them all.’ So after not being in the loop it felt like, maybe out of courtesy, I was at least somewhat involved.”
The crime drama cost $50 million to make and features a cast that includes Clint Eastwood, Jeff Daniels (State of Play), Angelica Huston (Prizzi’s Honor), Wanda De Jesus (The Insider), Tina Lifford (Grand Canyon), Paul Rodriguez (Ali), Dylan Welsh (Congo), and Mason Lucero (I Am Sam). “As an actor you have two philosophies,” explained Clint Eastwood. “One is that you are afraid to let go of what you once were, or you are not afraid to but you have to let go anyway! I have no other choice – they don’t make enough shoe polish for my hair and they don’t have a belt sander for my face! At some point you have to say, ‘This is who I am and this is an opportunity to play roles that I couldn’t play before’. I couldn’t play that vulnerability factor 30 years ago. You just have to view it as an opportunity and not worry about it. If your ego is to the point where you always have to look like a matinee idol, it’d be over. I always thought of myself as a character actor even though some people viewed me as a leading man.” Eastwood revealed, “I did research prior to making the movie and spoke with the head of the organ transplant division in Stanford; it’s amazing what people can do after a transplant. I thought they would be invalids but some of them can even run marathons!” Blood Work grossed $32 million worldwide and won Future Film Festival Digital Award at the Venice Film Festival.
“I've done a few special effects movies in my life, so I've gotten that out of my system,” admitted Clint Eastwood who selected Mystic River (2003) as his next project. “I wanted to tell a story about people, about conflicts, and about people overcoming obstacles in their lives. This story did it for me.” Three men scarred by a childhood tragedy are torn apart when one of their daughters is murdered. “I liked the many-layered part. The story was a combination of an emotional tragedy with a parallel investigative piece. But the fact that they converge upon themselves is interesting. I just like to really lay it out... When I first read the synopsis for this: ‘It's about the taking of a child's life, the stealing of someone's innocence, robbing them of their youth.’ I always thought what an interesting idea because almost everybody's fascinated by the perpetrator of a crime; very few people study what happens to people for the rest of their lives, and how it affects not only that particular character but other characters around him as well.”
Cast in the $25 million production are Sean Penn (Milk), Tim Robbins (Bull Durham), Kevin Bacon (Sleepers), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney (The Savages), Kevin Chapman (Unstoppable), Tom Guiry (Black Hawk Down), Emmy Rossum (The Day After Tomorrow), and Spencer Treat Clark. “As each one came on board, I sent them to Boston and they studied the accents and the Boston neighbourhoods. I arranged interviews with [author] Dennis Lehane so that they could get a feeling for what he was intending. Eventually it clicked together so that by the time we started, everyone was really well schooled on what they wanted to do. We had a few philosophy talks, but mainly, acting to me is a very organic art form and you just go and do it. I like to direct the same way that I like to be directed. Let me bring in what I want to bring in, and if something's wrong, just tell me about it and I'll make some corrections or adjustments.” Questioned about working with Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon, and Laurence Fishburne, Eastwood responded, “The fact that these fellas - the four principal men - had all directed films before is actually an asset, because I've always felt that every actor should direct a film at some point in their life, and every director should act. In this way it makes everybody understand what the process is.”
Mystic River earned $157 million worldwide and became an awards circuit darling, winning Oscars for Best Actor (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins), and contending for Best Supporting Actress (Marcia Gay Harden), Best Director, Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay. At the BAFTAs, the crime mystery received nominations for Best Actor (Sean Penn), Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins), Best Supporting Actress (Laura Linney) and Best Adapted Screenplay; the Golden Globes lauded it with Best Actor – Drama (Sean Penn) and Best Supporting Actor (Tim Robbins) as well as nominations for Best Director and Best Picture – Drama. Mystic River won Outstanding Performance of a Male Actor for a Supporting Role (Tim Robbins) and was honoured with nominations for Outstanding Performance of a Cast in a Motion Picture, and Outstanding Performance of a Male Actor in a Leading Role (Sean Penn) at the Screen Actor Guild Awards. Other guild awards nominations came from the American Cinema Editors, the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America, and the Writers Guild of America. Globally Mystic River was presented with Best Foreign Language Film at the Mainichi Film Concours and was handed nominations for Best Foreign Film by the Australian Film Institute and the Japanese Academy.
Collaborating with six other filmmakers, featuring the likes of Martin Scorsese (Hugo), Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas), and Mike Figgis (Timecode), Clint Eastwood directed the seventh and final episode in the PBS music documentary series The Blues (2003). Piano Blues has Eastwood sitting at a piano interviewing legendary musicians such as Ray Charles, Dave Brubeck, Marcia Ball and Dr. John. “I taught myself to play a little stride piano and a three-chord, eight-beat thing,” recollected Eastwood. “I became interested in boogie-woogie, jazz, and bebop. I was telling stories on the piano long before I ever directed a movie. In my movies, I like the image of the piano player: The piano player sits down, plays, tells his story, and then gets up and leaves, letting the music speak for itself.”
“Al Ruddy gave me the book, Rope Burns, and said he had been talking with F.X. Toole, who’d written these great stories set in and around boxing,” remarked Clint Eastwood. “So I read them and particularly liked Million Dollar Baby . I thought it would be relatively simple. I went to Warner Bros., and they said, ‘We don’t think boxing movies are really that commercial now,’ and I said, ‘I don’t quite see this as a boxing movie.’ I said, ‘It was a love story between a surrogate father and his surrogate daughter, and it’s the next picture I’m going to do.’ We went out [to sell it elsewhere], and we had two or three little turn-downs; they all thought it was interesting material but not commercial.” Lakeshore Entertainment intervened and Warner Bros. agreed to distribute the picture. A boxing trainer helps an amateur to achieve her dream of becoming a professional, but with fateful consequences. “It's a tragedy that could have been written by the Greeks or Shakespeare,” observed Eastwood who reunited with Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight) and performs alongside Hilary Swank (Red Dust), Jay Baruchel (Tropic Thunder), Mike Colter (Taking Chance), Lucia Rijker (Star Trek), Brian F. O’Byrne (The International), and Anthony Mackie (The Hurt Locker).
“I had great faith in Hilary; I think she's a terrific actress. Boys Don’t Cry , that was a wonderful performance, and in smaller roles like Insomnia . She has a great presence on the screen; there's a realness to her. I knew that's what it would take to make this picture work.” Made on a production budget of $30 million, Million Dollar Baby grossed $217 million worldwide and won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress (Hilary Swank), and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman); it contended for Best Editing, Best Actor (Clint Eastwood), and Best Adapted Screenplay. The Golden Globes presented the movie with Best Director and Best Actress – Drama (Hilary Swank) as well as nominations for Best Picture – Drama, Best Original Score, and Best Supporting Actor (Morgan Freeman); while the Screen Actor Guild Awards lauded it with Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role (Hilary Swank), and Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Morgan Freeman), and a nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The drama received award nominations from the Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, Directors Guild of America, Directors Guild of Great Britain, Art Directors Guild, and the American Cinema Editors. The Awards of the Japanese Academy rewarded Million Dollar Baby with Best Foreign Film.
“What intrigued me about it was the book itself and the fact that it wasn't really a war story,” remarked Clint Eastwood regarding Flags of Our Fathers (2006), which chronicles the tale of the six American World War II soldiers who took part in the famous flag raising incident that occurred during the Battle of Iwo Jima. “I liked it because it was a study of these people; I've always been curious about families who find out things about their relatives much after the fact.” The filmmaker was interested in exploring the aftereffects of warfare on soldiers. “It was a time in history when you didn't have a lot of psychiatric evaluation and coddling. When they came back they were just told to go home and get over it. If they didn't have wives or loved ones to help them, they had to adjust on their own.” Starring in the historical picture are Ryan Phillippe (The Lincoln Lawyer), Jesse Bradford (Hackers), Adam Beach (Windtalkers), John Benjamin Hickey (The Bone Collector), John Slattery (The Adjustment Bureau), Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan), Jamie Bell (Jumper), Paul Walker (Running Scared), and Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day). “We used lesser-known actors because the average age of people sent to Iwo Jima was 19 years, except for some of the officers.”
When recreating the famous battle, the film crew had to improvise. “The Japanese government feels it's a sacred place because there are still almost 12,000 of their men unaccounted for on that island. We couldn't do the pyrotechnics that we would have to do to actually recreate the invasion, so we went to Iceland.” Eastwood had his doubts about the alternative location. “I could not understand how it would work, but really there's a lot of similarities between Iceland in the summer and Iwo Jima in the winter time. Iwo is a geo-thermal island, a lot of volcanic activity, a lot of sulphur minerals coming out of fissures in the mountains and what have you. Iceland is not necessarily that way, but it does have some of that. It has tremendous black beaches, black sand beaches, which are very hard to duplicate.” Flags of Our Fathers had a production budget of $90 million and grossed $66 million worldwide; it received Academy Award nominations for Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing, while Clint Eastwood contended for Best Director at the Golden Globes. In Japan, the movie won Best Foreign Language Film at the Awards of the Japanese Academy. “I just wanted them to get to know these people, know what they went through. Maybe give the audience a feeling of what it was like in that time, what these people dedicated their lives or donated their lives for.”
A desire to explore the Japanese perspective of the Battle of Iwo Jima led Clint Eastwood to helm Letters from Iwo Jima (2006). “I kept going over story points, and how the defense of the island worked. I got interested in General [Tadamichi] Kuribayashi, [commander of the Japanese forces on the island].” The filmmaker sent out a request to learn more about the military figure. “It was a book of letters to his wife, his daughter and his son, and a lot of them were mailed from the U.S. when he was here as an envoy in the late ‘20s and early ‘30s. He was a very sensitive man, very family-oriented, missing his family very much. In those [letters] you got a feeling for what he was like.” Eastwood approached an Oscar-winning colleague for help. “I told [screenwriter] Paul Haggis I didn't have any dough, but that I had this crazy idea. I asked if he had any students or anyone he could mentor along. He got [writer Iris Yamashita] to do some research, and she came up with the idea of following the general through the eyes of a young conscript. I said, ‘Go ahead and write a script,’ and then I forgot about it. We went and prepared Flags. One day, she came with a script, and it was quite good. I realized I was heading to Iceland and Iwo Jima, and that I could pick up a few shots for both films, so that is how it all came about. Everybody asked me why was I doing [two films]? I said, ‘It just seemed like the thing to do.’ We were in the mode, so why not?” The World War II picture, made on a production budget of $19 million, stars Ken Watanabe (Inception), Kazunari Ninomiya, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Ryo Kase, Shidô Nakamura, Hiroshi Watanabe, Takumi Bando, and Yuki Matsuzaki. Letters from Iwo Jima earned $69 million worldwide and won the Oscar for Best Sound Editing, while contending for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The Golden Globes lauded the war story with Best Foreign Language Film and nominated Clint Eastwood for Best Director. The Awards of the Japanese Academy presented Letters from Iwo Jima with Best Foreign Language Film.
“[J. Michael Straczynski] had a friend who was working at the L.A. Times, and his friend called him and said, ‘We're purging all of our records. You ought to come down here and look at some of this stuff.’ He saw this bizarre case and got this idea of how to tell this woman's story,” explained Clint Eastwood as to the origins of Changeling (2008); when the Los Angeles Police Department recover her missing child, the mother suspects that she has been given an imposter. Cast in the period picture that takes place in 1928 are Angelina Jolie (Wanted), Gattlin Griffith (Green Lantern), Michelle Gunn (Super), Michael Kelly (Unbreakable), John Malkovich (In the Line of Fire), Colm Feore (Thor), Devon Conti, and Frank Wood (Michael Clayton). “When I was first given the script, I was told that Angelina had read it and liked it, so I didn't see any reason to look further. I liked her as an actress and she's a mother, so I figured she'd understand her character; she did an amazing job.” Eastwood added, “She reminds me a lot of the actresses from the Golden Age of movies in the 1940s.” Made on a production budget of $55 million, Changeling grossed $113 million worldwide and received Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Actress (Angelina Jolie). At the BAFTAs, the mystery drama contended for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Actress (Angelina Jolie), Best Production Design, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound; while at the Golden Globes it competed for Best Original Score and Best Actress – Drama (Angelina Jolie).
“We'd finished Changeling and were doing post-production when along comes Gran Torino ,” said Clint Eastwood, “is a very offbeat and unusual story for me and doesn't fit into any slot of pictures that are coming out nowadays; so I thought, ‘Well, I'll try that, too.’” The filmmaker decided to step in front of the camera again. “It's politically incorrect and it's something of a redemption story, which are the kind of things I like, so it was fun.” An embittered and recently widowed Korean War veteran becomes a mentor to a young boy taunted by a local gang. “He has a lot of things that are haunting him, and those have been suppressed. But he’s also a guy who’s out of kilter with generational changes.” Eastwood enjoyed playing the outspoken Walt Kowalski. “He wasn’t afraid to say what was on his mind even if it wasn’t particularly appealing. And of course, I felt he had to be that kind of guy because in order to change, and to make changes, and to show you’re never too old to learn a lot of things, including tolerance, he has to come from somewhere far away.” There was no way the Californian was going to tone down the character. “The trap would have been to go soft with it. If you don't play it all the way, it becomes a Hollywood bailout. You can't be Mr Nice Guy. It's very non-politically correct and that's good. There was just no pussyfooting around it.”
“The Gran Torino is his pride and joy,” stated Clint Eastwood in reference to the car which gives the movie its title. “Walt sort of is the Gran Torino. He doesn't do anything with it except let it sit in the garage. But every once in a while he takes it out and shines it up. Walt with a glass of beer, watching his car – that's about as good as it gets for him at this stage in life.” The attempted theft of the vehicle by the Hmong boy who lives next door leads to an unexpected social reawakening. “He doesn't want to have anything to do with these people. He changes when he realizes they are intelligent and they're very respectful of others, and I think he admires that. He has one line in the film where he says, ‘I have more in common with these people than I do with my own spoiled, rotten children’ and that sums it up.” Eastwood gets to portray a modern day gunslinger. “He goes back into his war mindset. That's when he really starts to see the problems with the Hmong community, mainly the kids who join gangs.” Staring in the drama are Clint Eastwood, Bee Vang, Ahney Her, Christopher Carley (Garden State), Doua Moua, Sonny Vue, and John Carol Lynch (Zodiac). “I got young people – 17, 18 – who had never acted before, but they were really good and brought a certain realistic feel to it.” The casting decision paid off as Gran Torino easily surpassed its $33 million production budget by grossing $267 million worldwide. “When it came out, it got nice reviews, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a thing. But then, when the public started liking it, I said, ‘Fine. I’ll take the success.’” At the Golden Globes, Gran Torino contended for Best Original Song, and won Best Foreign Film at Mainichi Film Concours as well at the Awards of the Japanese Academy.
Next on the cinematic agenda was Invictus (2009), a historical picture about Nelson Mandela using the 1995 Rugby World Cup as a means to unite South Africans. “It’s a story about how he handled the transition, going from a prisoner to becoming president of South Africa and how he handled racial relations and various social issues through one sporting event. It’s a rather brilliant maneuver he made at that particular time for reunification of the country.” Clint Eastwood had an opportunity to meet Mandela. “I thought he was equally impressive as he was on film. I'd seen him on newsreels and at various film presentations over the years. He's an extremely charismatic man, and he has that million dollar smile when he walks into a room and everybody else wants to smile with him. But I never got a chance to talk with him very much.” The filmmaker visited the president’s former prison home on Robben Island. “It's very emotional when you go into a little cell that doesn't even have a toilet in it. When you think a person spent 27 years of their life in there, just cracking rocks or digging in a salt mine, it's a little bit overwhelming. So, to come out and be as open and magnanimous and forgiving as he was is almost impossible to imagine.”
Invictus stars Morgan Freeman, Matt Damon (Good Will Hunting), Tony Kgoroge (Blood Diamond), Patrick Mofokeng (Africa United) Matt Stern (District 9), Julian Lewis Jones (The Bank Job), Adjoa Andoh (Adulthood), and Marguerite Wheatley. “I could not imagine anyone else in the role of Mandela,” declared Clint Eastwood. “They have the same stature and same kind of charismatic nature. Morgan also has a similar vocal quality, and he worked very hard to capture Mandela's inflections. I think he did it quite well.” The filmmaker had to familiarize himself with the sport of rugby. “I talked to the coach at the University of California, Jack Clarke, who gave me a whole rundown of the game. Then I watched his practices and everything they did there and got ideas. Then, when I got to South Africa, we had Chester [Williams, from the 1995 Springboks] and Francois [Pienaar] and various people who had been in the game. We also hired rugby players to play all the rugby parts, with the exception of Matt and one or two others.” For Eastwood there was only one place that would be suitable for the principle photography for the $50 million production. “I would not have filmed this movie in any place but South Africa. You have to be there. You need the people, you need the places. We wanted that authenticity. The majority of our cast and all of our extras were South African. They also have a viable cinema group in South Africa, so we had a nice ensemble of Americans and South Africans working together behind the scenes, and their crew could not have been better.” Invictus earned $122 million worldwide, and Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon received acting nominations from the Oscars, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. “I just thought this is something that politicians around the world today could learn a lot from, in terms of having a certain creativity and bringing people together instead of just talking about it.”
“Steven Spielberg called me one day and said, ‘I have a script that I'd love to send over to you.’ And I said, ‘Fine.’ He and I had worked together on a few other projects. I read it, liked it, and called him back to say I'd do it,” remarked Clint Eastwood as to how he became aware of Hereafter (2010). “It had a spirituality about it, but it was not necessarily tied into any particular organized thought.” An American, a French journalist and a London schoolboy have different death experiences. The filmmaker could relate to the subject matter. “My dad was taking me into the surf on his shoulders and I fell off. I can still remember today, even though I was about 4 or 5 years old, the color of the water and everything as I was being washed around in the surf before I popped to the surface. But at that age you don't think too much about it.” At the age of 21, Eastwood faced a perilous wintertime situation; a plane he was flying in crashed off the coast of Northern California. While swimming to shore, the survivor noticed lights in the distance and thought, “Somebody’s in there having a beer and sitting next to a fireplace; I just want to be in there. So I’m going to make it.”
Hereafter stars Matt Damon, Cécile de France (Switchblade Romance), Thierry Neuvic (Don’t Look Back), Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire), Richard Kind (The Station Agent), Bryce Dallas Howard (The Help), Derek Jacobi (Gosford Park), Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, and Lyndsey Marshal (The Hours). It opens with a dramatic sequence. “The tsunami was very difficult to do. I kept having fantasies of huge hoses and thousands of gallons of water running down the streets, and I figured out how to do that but I figured that would be prohibitive.” Clint Eastwood turned to Michael Owens whom he had first worked with on Space Cowboys. “We went through it and figured out what shots we would need to do live and then we did it but it took a lot of different places. Cécile was in a tank in London for nine hours without getting out too much, and she had to have a skin replacement afterwards. But then we went to Maui and shot in the ocean and on the streets of Lahaina. We had to preplan it in order to piece all the elements together with the connective shots. If you don’t preplan CGI, it’s the most expensive thing in the world; you have to plan every single shot and that’s normally not the way I shoot, but it worked out rather well. We hired a company named Scanline and they did a terrific job.” The visual effect caused some complications for Eastwood when it came to the trailer for the movie. “I would have preferred to not show the tsunami and have it sprung on everybody, but that’s just not the practicalities of life. You do want people to come in and see it, and hopefully enjoy it. It’s a tricky story because with this particular screenplay you have to flesh out all the characters and it’s tough to do; it’s tough to market a film like this.” The fantasy drama doubled its $50 million production budget by grossing $105 million worldwide. Hereafter contended for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars and won Best Foreign Film at the David di Donatello Awards.
“If you're doing a biography, you try to stay as accurate as possible,” remarked Clint Eastwood regarding J. Edgar (2011). “But you really don't know what was going on in the person's mind; you just know what was going on in the minds of people around him.” Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed) portrays J. Edgar Hoover who was made the director of the FBI in 1924 and served eight presidents from Calvin Coolridge to Richard Nixon. The biopic also features Armie Hammer (The Social Network), Josh Lucas (A Beautiful Mind), Naomi Watts (The Ring), Ed Westwick (Children of Men), Lea Thompson (Back to the Future), Dermot Mulroney (Copycat), Jeffrey Donovan (Hitch), Judi Dench (Jane Eyre), Stephen Root (No Country for Old Men) and Miles Fisher (Final Destination 5). “I visited with the FBI in Washington, D.C., and tried to find out as much as I could about people who had worked with Hoover.” Eastwood observed that Hoover was “the most powerful guy in the country at a time when America was by far the most powerful country [in the world]” and that “he was obviously a very detailed guy all his life, starting as a very young man. He had some great ideas—modern-day investigative techniques [like fingerprinting and forensic science]. But he also liked the glory of it all.” As for the suggestions of homosexuality, the filmmaker responded, “I’d heard all the various controversies, and gossip—that he wore dresses at parties. Everybody was saying, maybe he’s gay because he’d never gotten married. But that’s the way they did it back in the 1940s. If a guy didn’t get married, they always thought, ‘Oh, there’s something wrong with him.’” But were Hoover and his right hand man Clyde Tolson lovers? “They were inseparable pals. Now, whether he was gay or not is going to be for the audience to interpret.” Eastwood emphasized, “It’s a movie about how this guy manipulated everybody around him and managed to stay on through eight presidents.”
A remake is tentatively set to be the thirty-third feature film to be helmed by Clint Eastwood. “It’s when I became a fan of Barbra Streisand,” enthused Beyoncé Knowles (Dreamgirls). “I then saw Judy Garland’s version of A Star Is Born  and realized every 20 to 30 years a new talent represents that generation and era — I didn’t think that I would ever get the opportunity to be the star.” Eastwood remarked, “My preferences for strong roles for women in my films stems from when I was a kid. I grew up on pictures in which the women always played very important roles – Barbara Stanwyck [Double Indemnity] and Bette Davis [All About Eve]. Clark Gable’s role in It Happened One Night  was only good because he had Claudette Colbert to play off of. Those movies are more true to life than many films now where you have the guys motivating most of the stories and the in secondary positions.” The 2012 project has been called into question since it was announced that the leading lady is pregnant.
As Hollywood icons come and go Clint Eastwood continues to maintain an acting and filmmaking career that has spanned over seven decades; his body of work has led to his being honoured at the Golden Globes in 1988 with the Cecil B. DeMille Award and at the 1995 Oscars with the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. He was lauded with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Film Institute in 1996, and a Career Achievement Award by the National Board of Review in 1999 and by the Chicago International Film Festival in 2002. A Britannia Award for “excellence in film” was given to him by the BAFTAs in 2006, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Directors Guild of American in 2006. “If I started analyzing the impact my pictures produce or what I represent in today’s America, I would be paralyzed,” admitted Eastwood. “It’s not for me to dissect myself; I could never have the requisite objectivity.” However, the Californian confessed, “As you get older you start to run into more and more people who go way back with you, who maybe saw one of your films on their first date. It’s as if you’ve become part of the landscape.” The 80 year old added, “There’s a Portuguese director [Manoel de Oliveira] who is still making films at over a hundred years old, and I plan to do the same thing.”
For more on the legendary actor and filmmaker, visit Clint Eastwood.net and ClintEastwoodSite.com, along with the Dirty Harry fan-site The-Dirtiest.com.
For more on J. Edgar, be sure to check out Trevor's article, Subtle Manipulation: The Making of J. Edgar.
Five Essential Films of Clint Eastwood
Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada.