Clint Eastwood: “I don’t need to show my face on the screen anymore.”

Action hero. Politician. Director. Musician. Clint Eastwood is the type of guy who keeps on going. An interview with the 91-year-old celebrity about the joy of work and the burden of getting old.
Text Peter Panther
Photo Presse

Mr. Eastwood, Is it true that you said you need to keep reinventing yourself or you will die?
I’m not sure I said anything quite that drastic. We will all die eventually anyway. But you are quite right, I do want to continue to progress in life, still at my age. I don’t want to stand still or go backwards. I’ve always liked learning.

Is that why you are still making movies at 91?
It’s simple, really. They have not chased me away yet, they have not told me to finally hang up my hat. It’s not easy making movies, but I still enjoy a good fight. I still enjoy getting things done. Maybe that will never change.

Do you have an easier time in Hollywood because your name is Clint Eastwood?
You would think they’d cut an old guy some slack, right? No, it’s not easier. If you don’t come back with a financial success you are in trouble in this business. But I don’t care, I keep coming back anyway. Let some young punk chase me out of his office. I dare him. (laughs)

Has Hollywood lost respect for the older generation?
That’s a good question. I think in general, especially in America, which is such a youth-driven society, old age doesn’t count for much. Life experience, for that matter, doesn’t count for much, either. Hollywood has always and probably will always be about the next big thing. And I am certainly no longer the next big thing (laughs).

How does it feel not to have to work for a living anymore, and just do what makes you happy?
Who says I don’t have to work for a living anymore? I’m just kidding. Life’s been good to me. I am not complaining. To answer your question, it feels good, very good. You’ve got other problems when you get older, health problems for example. Your body doesn’t want to follow your orders anymore. But you cope. You have no other choice, really.

“You know a lot more when you’re old, at least until you start forgetting it.”

Clint Eastwood

But you look very fit. What do you do to stay in shape?
I try to avoid Cuban cigars and walk across the golf course instead of riding in a cart. I like being out in nature, and allow myself a daily nap. Sleep is the best thing I ever discovered.

Your fans say you are like a good wine, and get better with age, along with your films. Do you approach your projects differently than ten or twenty years ago?
I think I have developed a better eye for nuances as I get older. That’s important. You have to try to discover the little things that can make the difference in a very emotional situation. That can be a quick look, a breath, a short hesitation. Patience is a factor that a lot of filmmakers underestimate.

When younger Hollywood stars approach you for advice, what do you tell them?
Be realistic about where you are in life, and enjoy it!

Your son Scott is a member of this generation. He didn’t just inherit your good looks, he’s also got the same acting qualities. Does that make you proud?
Of course I’m proud of him. I am proud of all my children, which father isn’t? Scott is on his own path, I am convinced of that. I always just wanted all my kids to find their own way, and it looks like they have. That makes me very happy.

Do you ever think about quitting the business altogether?
Every day. (laughs) But why should I? I don’t want to do projects that are happening because of me, and don’t need to show my face on the screen anymore. I only do what I want to do and what I enjoy. Which 85-year-old can say that?

So would you say Clint Eastwood is a contented human being?
Definitely! I’ve enjoyed the journey to this stage so I intend to enjoy the rest of the journey, a long one I hope. I’m a lucky bastard.

Clinton Eastwood Jr. was born on 31 May 1930 in San Francisco, California. The list of films he has acted in or directed would fill an entire page, so let’s content ourselves with Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby, both of which won Oscars in the categories of Best Picture and Best Director.

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