Clinton Elias "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. (born May 31, 1930) is an American actor, director, producer, singer, songwriter, former mayor of Carmel, California, and designer of his own line of golf clothing. He's most famous for portraying tough-as-nails gunslingers who speak very little, and make each word (and bullet) count. The two most famous roles of this kind are Dirty Harry, and the Man With No Name in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy. He is also widely cited as being the only western actor to win a Quick Draw contest for real.
He 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 library, to be more specific) The '80s 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. If you want a break from Clint's ever-expanding body count, but can't stand Bridges of Madison County, 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" will do the trick.
Recent audiences have caught on to something that critics and admirers long noticed about Eastwood, especially the films he directed. He really likes to act, and especially direct, movies that deconstruct 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; one of his most recent acting roles 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 first began directing in 1971, and indeed as per interviews claimed that he always wanted to direct, and that his success as a movie star in Italian-made spaghetti westerns took him by surprise. Before making his star-making films, Eastwood worked as an actor in American television and low-budget television, and was fairly realistic that such roles didn't exactly portend a great career. As a director, he is considered a film-maker who embodies the old-fashioned Hollywood ethos of John Ford, Anthony Mann and Howard Hawks. He prefers visual storytelling, directly expressing his ideas in simple terms, he also works fast and finishes his movies quickly, known for being one of the few to bring in his movies under budget and under schedule (which even Alfred Hitchcock cannot claim). Actors describe Eastwood as a real darling on the set, known for speaking softly rather than shouting, and generally organizing things that make even difficult parts easy to finish on time. Eastwood has won 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, which believe it or not were the biggest hits of his career, along with Bronco Billy where he had some Self-Deprecating Humor) and also romantic roles (The Bridges of Madison County). Critics especially adore his performance as a John Huston spoof (John Wilson) in White Hunter, Black Heart where he plays the Hollywood legend as a Byronic Hero and The Dandy, really showing his great range.
Although 2008's Gran Torino was treated as a Swan Song by critics and media (as is, in fact, every film he stars in since, the latest being Cry Macho), all while Clint became the oldest actor to headline a #1 movie at age 78, he continues to work tirelessly even in his 90s. Although he had slowed down his work in front of the camera, he attracted some of the biggest names for his directorial efforts, including Tom Hanks (Sully), Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar), and Bradley Cooper (American Sniper).
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 and being a major jazz fan, and even capable of composing his own music scores.
In his younger days, he was very much The Casanova, so much so that he not only had mistresses but reportedly cheated on his mistresses with other mistresses. According to one of his friends and biographers, Eastwood "seemed to get a bang out of this kinkier side to himself and rarely concealed it, often gloated about it." One person who wasn't laughing was actress Sondra Locke (she played a few of his on-screen love interests) who discovered that during their 14 year relationship Eastwood had actually fathered two children with another girlfriend. Locke accused Eastwood of using his star status to bury her career after their breakup. Eastwood and Warner Brothers both eventually settled out of court. Suffice to say, if Clint offers you a part in one of his movies, accept. If he offers you dinner, maybe think it over.
Eastwood has seven children from his various relationships (Clint himself joked "at least seven"), several of whom have appeared in his films. These include Kyle (Honkytonk Man), Alison (Absolute Power), Scott (Gran Torino) and Francesca (True Crime).
Another Fun Fact: Though his characters often smoked in his films, Clint himself is actually a non-smoker in real life.
- Play Misty for Me (1971)
- High Plains Drifter (1973)
- The Eiger Sanction (1975)
- The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)
- The Gauntlet (1977)
- Bronco Billy (1980)
- Firefox (1982)
- Sudden Impact (1983)
- Pale Rider (1985)
- Heartbreak Ridge (1986)
- Bird (1988)
- White Hunter, Black Heart (1990)
- The Rookie (1990)
- Unforgiven (1992)
- The Bridges of Madison County (1995)
- Absolute Power (1997)
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997)
- True Crime (1999)
- Space Cowboys (2000)
- Blood Work (2002)
- 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)
- Jersey Boys (2014)
- American Sniper (2014)
- Sully (2016)
- The 15:17 to Paris (2018)
- The Mule (2018)
- Richard Jewell (2019)
- Cry Macho (2021)
Trope Namer for:
Tropes associated with him:
- Anti-Hero: Practically all of his characters are this, usually of the Cowboy Cop variety.
- Bilingual Bonus: His production company Malpaso is ostensibly named for Malpaso Creek south of Carmel, but "Malpaso" means "bad step" in Spanish (the creek is located at the bottom of a steep ravine, so the name is really more in the sense of "creek that's difficult to cross"). When he agreed to take the starring role in A Fistful of Dollars, his manager literally told him that it was a "bad step" in his career. Since the money he made from the Dollars Trilogy enabled him to start Malpaso in the first place, Eastwood felt the name was ironically appropriate.
- Biopic: He made a highly regarded one of Charlie Parker (Bird), and followed it up with J. Edgar and American Sniper. In addition there's White Hunter, Black Heart about the making of The African Queen with Clint Eastwood playing John Huston (renamed John Wilson), Playing Against Type in a comedic role as a macho-posing dandy
- 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 more. 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 they are a) spontaneous and b) relaxed. It's also a case of Hard Work Hardly Works since despite this laidback approach, Eastwood is regarded as the most economical film-maker in Hollywood, filming movies on schedule and often, under-budget, which makes him a producer's dream and allows him to retain great integrity to do the smaller, personal films he wants. This also greatly benefits actors as well, who can schedule in an Eastwood movie knowing production won't run up against their next job.
- One of his directors on Rawhide complained that Eastwood would always show up late to the set.
- Catchphrase: "Yeah...." certainly seems to be this.
- Most of the other iconic phrases associated with Clint (such as "Go ahead, make my day") were one-offs (as opposed to, say, Arnold's "I'll be back.")
- Cool Old Guy: Definitely one of the coolest of all time, both in Real Life and in his recent movies.
- Copiously Credited Creator: Along with all those movies where he directs, produces and acts, there are some in which he provides music (though only Million Dollar Baby is the only one with Clint both acting and credited as the composer; some like Gran Torino have Clint writing or performing a song).
- Death Glare: You can count the number of movies on one hand that doesn't feature him playing a character associated with that trope.
- 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 a hat.
- Despite the popularity of his films Eastwood was often criticized early in his career by critics for being too understated. There's actually a bit of a debate between critics and fans as to whether Eastwood was a wooden actor who simply got lucky or if he was actually a master of a more understated form of acting, given his penchant for playing cold, hard boiled, emotionally unavailable men (which is what his career was pretty much built on for the longest time).
- Ennio Morricone Pastiche: Whenever someone spoofs a cowboy accompanied by music from Ennio Morricone they are usually doing a badass pose based on either Clint or Lee Van Cleef.
- Friend to All Children: When he was mayor of Carmel he would use the modest salary that came with the position to treat the town's children to an annual ice cream party.
- Friend to All Living Things: 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.
- Guttural Growler: Good Lord, he makes Christian Bale's Batman sound high-pitched.
- Hidden Depths: He absolutely loves music, is a gifted jazz pianist, and has penned songs for several films.
- A well-known conservative in Hollywood, Clint's views skew closer to a classical libertarian than most suspect. He is a supporter of Gay Marriage and gun control, and one of the few Republican voices who opposed the Iraq War.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Production Posse: Screenwriter Nick Schenk has worked on the most recent films Clint has directed and starred in (Gran Torino, The Mule and Cry Macho).
- Rated M for Manly: The 6'4, gravel-voiced, ultra-macho action star Clint Eastwood is one of the most enduring cultural icons of masculinity in the history of American cinema and beyond. His characters in the Dollars Trilogy, Where Eagles Dare, Kelly's Heroes, Heartbreak Ridge, and Dirty Harry are particularly notable. However, many of his later films can be viewed as Deconstructions of manly ideals, such as Unforgiven, Gran Torino and Cry Macho; even the Dirty Harry series can be taken that way.
- On Bridges of Madison County, his character turns away from the camera when he cries. He said afterwards that he did so because the audience does not expect a Clint Eastwood character to cry openly in a movie.
- 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 he also served a term in municipal politics as mayor of Carmel, Calif.
- Rule-Breaker Rule-Namer: The DGA has an "Eastwood Rule", which is where the DGA reserves the right to slap a producer with a huge fine if he fires a DGA-affiliated director and replaces him with a current member of the cast or crew, after Clint Eastwood's behavior while making The Outlaw Josey Wales.
- Signature Style: Most of his films focus on visual storytelling, and have a de-saturated color palate, emphasizing greys and pastels over bold colors (which, if they ever do appear, are dulled and darkened). Also, his films' scores as a rule are quite understated.
- Smoking Is Cool: Interesting case. As noted above, though he did smoke when cinematic roles called for it, he did not smoke in real life. Actually, he had a personal distaste for both tobacco and the tobacco industry. And cigarette smoke bugs his eyes.
- Strong Family Resemblance: All of his children resemble him at least somewhat, but his son Scott in particular is essentially a carbon copy.
...you've got to ask yourself one question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do you, Punk?