"Westerns. A period gone by, the pioneer, the loner operating by himself, without benefit of society. It usually has something to do with some sort of vengeance; he takes care of the vengeance himself, doesn't call the police. Like Robin Hood. It's the last masculine frontier. Romantic myth. I guess, though it's hard to think about anything romantic today. In a Western you can think, Jesus, there was a time when man was alone, on horseback, out there where man hasn't spoiled the land yet."—Clint Eastwood, on the genre that helped shape his career.
Clint Eastwood is most famous for portraying Badass machos, characters that are so cool, their coolness drips right off the screen. The two most famous roles of this kind are Dirty Harry and the Man With No Name in the Sergio Leone movies. In these movies he invented and popularized the One-Liner (like the Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner, Pre-Mortem One-Liner, or just the generic "I'm so badass"-One-Liner). His Influence on the movie industry was such that without him (or his Dirty Harry to be more specific) The Eighties would have seen about a mere fourth of the action movies it actually did see...
Aside from Westerns (which his cop movies pretty much are) he also played in an occasional war movie of the Trapped Behind Enemy Lines kind. (Kelly's Heroes, Where Eagles Dare). He was also in the movie of Firefox, resulting in the sequel novel being dedicated to him.
He soon also got a reputation for being a great director, who always finishes his movies ahead of time and with still some budget left. For the past twenty or so years he has directed almost every movie he starred in and a bunch he didn't, winning several Academy Awards for them, including 2 best pictures (Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby) and 5 of the various acting awards. On his own acting front he changed his palette to include comedic roles (Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can, both of which were huge hits, along with Bronco Billy where he had some Self Deprecating Humor) and also romantic roles (The Bridges of Madison County). In general, it can be said that he really likes to do such things, even deconstructing his own Image. Unforgiven deconstructs his westerns in general and The Outlaw Josey Wales in particular, The Gauntlet deconstructs his Dirty Harry persona as early as 1977. His most recent, acting role was Gran Torino (which he also directed and produced) can be seen as a comment on both his Man With No Name and Dirty Harry characters, exploring the demons of the grizzled badass grown old. He has also directed Invictus, a film about the end of The Apartheid Era in South Africa and Hereafter, an ensemble drama about people who have been touched by death. He will be returning to the screen in fall 2012 for the drama Trouble With the Curve, where he will play an aging baseball scout who goes on one last recruiting trip with his daughter, despite the fact that he is going blind. The film will be the directoral debut of Eastwood's long-time producer Robert Lorenz.
With the success of Gran Torino, Eastwood at 78 officially became the oldest leading man to reach #1 at the box office.
Note also that he is not only an actor and director, he also is/was: producer, singer, songwriter, mayor of Carmel, CA and designer of his own line of golf-clothing. He is also widely cited as being the only western actor to win a quick-draw contest.
FYI: If you want to free yourself from the macho-image Clint has, but can't stand watching Bridges of Madison County for some reason, you should give Paint Your Wagon a try. Clint Eastwood walking through a forest, singing "I talk to the trees, but they don't listen to me" That should just do the job.
Despite his macho image, he is very much One of Us, as emphasized by the times he was interviewed during the production of another of his films, Space Cowboys. He openly and willingly admitted to being very much a science nerd, and enjoying sci-fi.
In his younger days, he was very much The Casanova. Seriously, just look at his Wikipedia entry. To quote: Eastwood told biographer Richard Schickel that he lost his virginity at age 14. He has fathered at least seven children by five different women and been described as a "serial womanizer". According to biographers Marc Eliot and Patrick McGilligan, Eastwood always had a strong sexual appetite and had many affairs with women through the years, including actresses Catherine Deneuve, Jean Seberg, Peggy Lipton, Kay Lenz, Jamie Rose, Inger Stevens, Jo Ann Harris, Jane Brolin, Jill Banner, script analyst Megan Rose, and swimming champion Anita Lhoest. Biographers claim he has also fathered at least four children that have been aborted, and another who was given up for adoption in 1953. Biographers and friend Paul Lippman have claimed that Eastwood was particularly sexually active and promiscuous in the 1970s and that he used his apartment close to the Hog's Breath Inn which he purchased in Carmel in the early 1970s to meet young ladies for "nooners" and "five in the afternooners". According to Lippman, "Eastwood seemed to get a bang out of this kinkier side to himself and rarely concealed it, often gloated about it".
Notable films directed by him include:
- Play Misty for Me (1971)
- High Plains Drifter (1973)
- The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
- The Gauntlet (1977)
- Firefox (1982)
- Sudden Impact (1983)
- Pale Rider (1985)
- Heartbreak Ridge (1986)
- Bird (1988)
- White Hunter Black Heart (1990)
- Unforgiven (1992)
- The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
- Space Cowboys (2000)
- Mystic River (2003)
- Million Dollar Baby (2004)
- Flags of our Fathers (2006)
- Letters From Iwo Jima (2006)
- Changeling (2008)
- Gran Torino (2008)
- Invictus (2009)
- Hereafter (2010)
- J. Edgar (2011)
Clint Eastwood the trope namer for:
Tropes Associated with Clint Eastwood
- Badass: Hell yes!
- Brilliant but Lazy: He's known for being incredibly laidback when shooting films. Tim Robbins described a day with him as "You're in no earlier than Nine. He only shoots one take and complains if he has to do. And You usually go home right after lunch". Of course, the results show that it works.
- He works on the assumption that actors do their best work if their a) spontaneous and b) releaxed.
- Cool Old Guy: Definitely one of the coolest of all time.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters he's played cater to this, and is more or less art imitating life.
- Dull Surprise: In his early work at least - Sergio Leone even said Clint only had two expressions, with and without hat.
- Friend to All Living Things: A really badass example. Clint is famous for helping out local animal rescue projects in his area of California. His own ranch is filled with various animals that he and his wife Dina have adopted. Anytime he does an interview and ends up talking about his pets it ends up being a huge Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: On screen, he's intimdating, rude and usually amoral with a bad temper. Offscreen, he's known to be very friendly and laidback and a pleasure to work with.
- Rated "M" for Manly: Most of his films can be viewed as Deconstructions of manly ideals, even the Dirty Harry series.
- Renaissance Man: In addition to acting and directing, Clint also is a licensed pilot, a rancher (and his ranch is filled with pets that he and his wife have adopted from animal rescue missions), and a quite talented musician. He's also a former lifeguard and a veteran of the Korean War.
- Skippy Rules: The DGA has an "Eastwood Rule."
Finally writing this article about Clint Eastwood really made my day.