Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Eastwood Interview Clint talks about CHANGELING and GRAN TORINO

I found a nice interview on the web today that Eastwood gave to the Blockbusters rental outlet. I found it rather good, so reproduced it here should anyone have missed it.

Currently in pre-production on a Nelson Mandela biopic, his fifth film as director in the last four years, Clint Eastwood is not only one of the most gifted, daring and prolific filmmakers in the business, with Oscars for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, but also arguably the greatest movie star of all time, his iconic portrayals of Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name guaranteeing him legendary status. Today he's on screen as a grizzled war veteran in smash hit drama Gran Torino, one of two movies he directed last year, alongside real-life period drama Changeling, available now from Blockbuster.
"It's been a long road," acknowledges Eastwood. "One day you wake up and you're 78 years old. I remember saying to my wife Dina, talking about Changeling and Gran Torino, 'What am I doing? Directing and producing two pictures in a row, starring in one of them and writing music for both. What the hell am I doing it for?' Then I started laughing. 'Because I like it, that's why!' And I still learn something new every day."
A thought-provoking, Twenties-set true story starring Angelina Jolie as a mother searching for her missing son, Changeling exposes corruption on a massive scale, unearthing horrific crimes along the way. "Eighty years ago, Los Angeles was out on the West Coast by itself," explains Eastwood. "It became a world of its own. There were many bizarre incidents back then; inspiring a whole generation of Film Noir movies, and it's hardly changed. It's still corrupt."
Never one to drag out his casting decisions, Eastwood opted for Jolie in a heartbeat. "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. And she did an amazing job."Equally impressive is Eastwood's own performance in Gran Torino as Walt, a Korean War Veteran all alone in the world who sees his neighbourhood taken over by immigrants. "And he doesn't like the changes he sees... "I wasn't looking for it," says Eastwood of his first acting job since 2004. "There aren't that many good roles for guys my age. After Million Dollar Baby, I felt that was enough, and didn't want to act again. But my producer, Rob Lorenz, read the script, thought it was interesting and asked if I wanted to look at it. I did, and yeah, it was! The age was appropriate and the timing was right. I was in the final stage of Changeling, doing the scoring, and I did not want to wait."
A veteran screen star with a pair of Oscar nominations under his belt - for Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby - Eastwood was totally unfazed by the challenge of returning to acting after such a long break. "It was okay," he says undramatically. "I've been doing it for 55 years now. You just get the character in mind and then you're there, doing it. Really I was happy to get back in front of the camera. It was fun to play such a bizarre character."
Besides being the right age, Walt appealed to Clint for a number of reasons. I liked the fact he was kind of crazy and an equal opportunity insulter, a unique character I thought I knew well. Growing up, I knew a lot of people like that. It seems in that era nobody was scared to say what they thought."
A blatant racist, Walt wasn't an easy character to pull off. "The trap would have been to go soft with it," reveals Eastwood. "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."
Critics and audiences agree that Eastwood did an amazing job. "To be 78 years-old and in a successful picture, that's nice. It did more business than Million Dollar Baby. But I don't know the whys or whats, and that's what makes it provocative to still work in movies. You never know what's going to happen."
Having enjoyed a long and varied career with many more hits than misses, Eastwood says he's comfortable being called a legend. "It's fine," he concludes. "It's very nice. I'd rather be called that than something else less flattering.
"The main thing is to do each project the way you want, and if it finds an audience, that's terrific. If it doesn't, there's nothing you can do anyway, so don't let it concern you too much. An awful lot of good movies have done badly and an awful lot of bad movies have done very well. There are no real rhymes or reasons for it. Sometimes the stars don't always align right. But if you've done the best you can, you feel pretty good about it."

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