A well-known story of Clint and his plane crash during the army days. The director spoke to students this month at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film & TV, where he took part in the ongoing Hollywood Masters interview series.
“Stark terror” was the emotion Clint Eastwood experienced more than six decades ago when he almost died during a plane crash, he said March 11. “What was going through my mind was just a stark fear, a stark terror, because [in the] first place, I didn’t know anything about aviation at that particular time — I was just hopping a ride,” he noted, recalling the time he hitched a ride on a bomber plane while doing his military service in the early 1950s.
“In those days, you could wear your uniform and get a free flight,” he continued. “On the way back, they had one plane, a Douglas AD, sort of a torpedo bomber of the World War II vintage, and I thought I’d hitch on that. Everything went wrong. Radios went out. Oxygen ran out. And finally we ran out of fuel up around Point Reyes, California, and went in the ocean. So we went swimming. It was late October, November. Very cold water. I found out many years later that it was a white shark breeding ground, but I'm glad I didn’t know that at the time or I'd have just died.”
Eastwood spoke to students at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film & TV, where he took part in the ongoing Hollywood Masters interview series. Other guests this season have included Sean Penn, Kenneth Branagh, Gale Anne Hurd and Ethan Hawke.
He also discussed his more recent military foray, the Oscar-nominated American Sniper, which became the highest-grossing release of 2014 the day he was interviewed. Asked if the picture glorified war, he replied: “I think it’s nice for veterans, because it shows what they go through, and that life — and the wives and families of veterans. It has a great indication of the stresses they are under. And I think that all adds up to kind of an anti-war message.”
Is Eastwood himself anti-war? “Yes,” he said. “I've done war movies because they’re always loaded with drama and conflict. But as far as actual participation … it’s one of those things that should be done with a lot of thought, if it needs to be done. Self-protection is a very important thing for nations, but I just don’t like to see it.” He added: “I was not a big fan of going to war in Iraq or Afghanistan, for several reasons, several practical reasons. One, [in] Afghanistan, the British had never been successful there; the Russians had 10 years there and hadn’t been successful… Iraq, I know, was a different deal, because there was a lot of intelligence that told us that bad things could happen there, and we’re never sure how that ended up, whether it was pro or con. But I tend to err on the side of less is best.”
The actor-director-producer said he was planning to take a few months off before he returns to filmmaking. “I did two pictures back-to-back, Jersey Boys and then this, American Sniper. I was editing one while preparing another, and I just thought, at the end, the worst thing that could happen now is somebody gives me a really great script! So I wanted five, six months off to just improve the golf game.” He said he was continuing to develop the long-in-the-works A Star Is Born, but also noted that he has a new project in mind. “I talked about that for a while with Warner Brothers’ people,” he said of Star, “and we’re still playing with that idea. But the problem at the beginning [was] they were more infatuated with just the idea of the casting. They were talking about having Beyoncé in it, and she was very popular, but she also is very active and it’s hard to get a time scheduled, so we never could get that worked out. But I’m still playing with the idea. Then also I've got one other thing I’m looking at that’s interesting.” He declined to say what it was.