“If you start intellectualizing, or pseudo-intellectualizing, you can get yourself in a real box. You could just be putting out a dull thing.”
Clint Eastwood was born on May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, California. After graduating from Oakland Technical High School in 1949, Clint worked many odd jobs; as a hay baler, logger, truck driver and steel-furnace stoker. He was later recruited by the US Army in 1950 and served as a swimming instructor at Fort Ord on the Monterey Peninsula. After his discharge in 1953, Eastwood made his way into Los Angeles where he landed his first role as an actor in small parts of films like “Revenge of the Creature” and “Francis in the Navy”, both of which were released in 1955.
Eastwood was in Cannes on the 20th of May to inaugurate the restored copy of “Unforgiven” which is celebrating its 25th anniversary with Warner. On 21st May, he opened the 70th Anniversary Masterclass in the Bunuel screening room with the American critic Kenneth Turan. The legendary actor-director had a lot to offer during the Masterclass, talking freely about his films, childhood and beginnings.
“As a kid, I already loved westerns. My idols at the time? Gary Cooper, James Stewart and John Wayne. I was born during the Depression and my parents were starving, but as kids, we really didn't notice. My sister and I were always given enough,” an emotional Eastwood recalls.
Eastwood made a key breakthrough in his acting career when he landed a major role in the TV Western series “Rawhide”, playing as Rowdy Yates. After that, Eastwood never looked back. He starred in a series of films in Italy during the 60s. And in 1971, he starred in his first self directed film “Play Misty For Me”, which received positive reviews from the audience.
“Cinema is completely emotional; it's not intellectual at all. An example: I like playing golf, but I don't want to have to play golf. It's the same with directing. I like to do a first take to see what happens on the faces of my actors. If everything works after the first take, everybody becomes caught up in this positive dynamic, and it really helps with the rest of the shooting.”
Eastwood's last on-screen piece was back in 2012, “The Trouble with the Curve”. He told Turan that he missed acting “once in a while but not often”, and added that he will return when he is ready. “I did a lot of it for a long time. I'll visit it again someday.”
When asked about his Oscar-nominated film “Bridges of Madison County”, Eastwood said that the film was based on a best-selling book. Upon reading the book, Clint thought that the main protagonist of the movie should be the woman. Although his co-star, Meryl Streep, didn't like the book, Clint managed to change her mind when she read the screenplay. “Today, we're killing ourselves with political correctness; we've really lost our sense of humor.” Apart from being an actor/director, Clint Eastwood is a former outspoken Republican but recently changed his views to that of a Libertarian. He was elected as the mayor of Carmel, California in 1986.
The director's movies have been featured at Cannes quite frequently over the past few decades. He appeared in the festival for the first time at 1985 with “Pale Rider”, followed by “Bird (1988)”, “White Hunter Black Heart (1990)”, “Absolute Power (1997)”, “Mystic River (2003)” and “Changeling (2008)”. “Changeling” earned him the Special Jury Prize for the 61st edition of the Festival. Clint was also the President of the Feature Film Jury in 1994.
Clint Eastwood has many achievements under his belt, and he will remain to be one of the brightest stars the international film industry has produced. He is a legend in every sense of the word, and his characters will live on in our hearts forever.
Compiled by Araf Zahin