Director’s Spotlight: Clint Eastwood
With the release of Jersey Boys this weekend, today’s post is designed to catch you up on the fantastic career of Clint Eastwood. Eastwood, unlike the other two (Ridley Scott, Darren Aronfosky) I’ve featured in a similar post, isn’t known as a director first.
I’ll get into this and much more below!
Clint Eastwood wasn’t a masculine icon from the time he was born (although, did you know: he was over 11 pounds at birth!?). Eastwood wasn’t even an actor until he was 25 years old (he first appeared in Revenge of the Creature in a very minor role). Before acting, he was actually in the Army, which resulted in him being in a plane crash which he survived and swam three miles to safety. Crazy stuff.
Eventually, he worked his way into Hollywood (against the odds, too). After appearing in minor roles, he finally landed the lead role in the Dollars trilogy (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few More Dollars, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) which catapulted his acting career. Without those movies (and the other spaghetti westerns that followed), Eastwood wouldn’t be the household name he is today.
Eastwood wasn’t always the easiest actor to work with. He didn’t believe in the rehearsal or reshooting process (something I’ll get into more later), often causing frustrations on set. This undoubtedly led to him taking over the director’s chair. His first directing gig, Play Misty for Me, came out in 1971. His feature debut turned out to be both critically and commercially-acclaimed.
Eastwood’s directing career took off from there and has resulted in 33 full-length films. In short, his most notable films are (in chronological order) The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, The Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Letters from Iwo Jima, and Gran Torino.
Unlike some directors, Eastwood has proved he can move from one genre to the next. You’d assume he’d have a soft spot for westerns, but he’s shown his success in the drama, sci-fi, and romance genres. It makes sense he is directing the musical biography, Jersey Boys, next.
84: Years Eastwood has lived (he was born May 31, 1930)
10: Total Oscar nominations (with the first being for Unforgiven and the last being for Letters from Iwo Jima)
4: Total Oscar wins (he won Best Director and Best Picture for both Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby)
3: Total Golden Globe wins (for Bird, Unforgiven, and Million Dollar Baby)
66: Total credits as Actor (compared to 33 as Director)
$148,095,302: Highest gross for a film Eastwood directed (Gran Torino)
$2,319,124: Lowest gross for a film Eastwood directed (White Hunter Black Heart)
3,045: Theaters Gran Torino opened in (the most of all his films)
96%: Highest Rotten Tomato score for a film Eastwood directed (High Plains Drifter)
33%: Lowest Rotten Tomato score for a film Eastwood directed (The Rookie)
2015: Year in which his next movie is already set to come out (American Sniper)
Like I alluded to earlier, Eastwood doesn’t share the same mentality as some directors when it comes to rehearsing and shooting movies. In fact, Eastwood is known for his fast-paced productions. He tries to get as many takes as possible on the first try (which is probably why he churns out movies so quick).
He also believes on giving the audience the ability to think for themselves. This sounds like a given, but so many directors nowadays spell out a story for the audience. Eastwood, on the other hand, lets the audience develop their own thoughts about his characters. To me, this is what makes him the most special.
As for “best” film, Million Dollar Baby is probably winning the race right now for his most notable work as a director. This is evident by its critical reception as well as the awards that came following the sports drama’s release in 2004.
Eastwood’s career is likely winding down (due only to his age), but his legacy will always live on. By expanding his work in different genres, Eastwood has crossed the path of almost every moviegoer.
He’s that special of a guy.
Check out Jersey Boys starting this Friday!
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