We all recognise him as one of Hollywood’s most iconic tough guys, but there’s a much softer side to Clint Eastwood that’s perhaps not so well known. Here are five lesser known yet none-the-less interesting aspects of the man behind the legend.
Clint, the Pianist and Composer
Clint Eastwood is not only an actor, director and film producer, he’s also an accomplished pianist and composer, and a big fan of jazz.
As a teenager, Clint played piano at a local club. He says, ”What I liked early on was jazz’s independence, the independence of the musicians, and the music’s democratic spirit. Everybody was included, if you could play. The musicians were interested in your achievements, not your skin colour or your background.” He was self-taught, but he became an accomplished player before embarking on his acting career.
In recent years, he has said, “If I’ve had any regret in life, it was not paying more attention to it and not practise, practise, practise.”
Sitting at his piano, Clint has composed the scores for many of his films, including Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Bridges of Madison County and Mystic River. In an interview with The New Yorker, he said, “Mystic River was a difficult one, because I couldn’t find a theme to that, so I finally looked at—I started thinking about the three main actors—the three boys, played by Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Bacon.”
“They all formed this triangle, so I started writing a triad, playing with that on a piano And all of a sudden, I developed this theme based on this triad, which is nothing terribly complicated, but to me—in a movie, the music shouldn’t be terribly complicated. It should be supporting, not overriding.”
Clint, the Singer
In 1963, Clint Eastwood sat down at a saloon piano and crooned a love song in his role as Rowdy Yates in the long-running TV western series Rawhide. In the same year, he released his first album, “Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favourites”. In 1969, he was singing again in the film musical Paint Your Wagon, and while he may not be thought of as a singer by many, he also sang for the soundtrack of Kelly’s Heroes in 1970, and then in Honkytonk Man in 1981. He sang in Bronco Billy and in Any Which Way You Can… all the way to the end credits in Gran Torino in 2008, the list goes on.
Clint Eastwood can hold a tune.
Clint, the Director Who Doesn’t Say “Cut”
He’s an award-winning film director, but unlike most, he doesn’t say “Action” and he doesn’t say “Cut”. He says, “When you say ‘Action’ even the horses get nervous” and instead of “Cut” he’ll say, “Let’s move on” or he’ll let the camera run until the actor in question breaks out of character.
Clint is famed for expecting actors and crew to get things right on the first take, and many have found themselves being “moved on” when they’ve been expecting another take or two to perfect their lines. But, he’s not someone who likes to hurry, he just doesn’t like wasting time. He says, “Nobody runs in a hospital, and they’re saving lives.”
Clint, the Father and Son
The number of children Clint Eastwood has fathered remains unclear, but, after becoming a father again well into his 60s, he accepts that he made a better job of it in his older years than in his younger years. He says, “When you’re reaching for the brass ring, all you’re really thinking about is the brass ring,” suggesting that he now values the time he has with his children much more than before.
One of his sons, Kyle Eastwood, has inherited his father’s love of jazz and is now a successful musician, another son, Scott Eastwood, has followed his father’s footsteps into an acting career as have his daughters Kimber Lynn, Alison, Kathryn, Francesca and Morgan.
With so many children by so many different mothers, he makes no bones about his “dysfunctional family” but in interviews he has spoken about the close bond he had with his own parents, especially his mother.
He has said, “She made me make a tough decision for her. She lasted until she was ninety-seven. She had a major stroke, but they could have resuscitated her. And she was conscious enough where I could say, ‘They can resuscitate. C’mon, three more years, and you hit the century mark.’ But the look on her face. And I said, ‘Okay.'”
Clint, the Libertarian
Born in 1930, Clint has plenty of life experience to look back on. After his 80th birthday he said, “Eighty is just a number. A lot of people are old at 40. It’s too late for vanity. If I was 30, maybe, I’d say, ‘Hey, that’s not a good angle.’ But there is no good angle now. So you just kinda accept it and go ahead.”
On his approach to life, he says, “Life is about not being afraid. I’ll just barge in, make that commitment, go for it, otherwise you miss great opportunities to enjoy yourself and have fun and create characters that are interesting. Sometimes you have to swing hard and miss the ball. But you have to swing hard.”
He may be famed for playing characters who were not afraid to “swing hard” but the softer side of Clint Eastwood is summed up perfectly when he says, “I’m a very libertarian soul. Leave everybody be. That’s the way I am about almost everything. Leave everybody alone.”