Clint Eastwood is one of Hollywood’s most prodigious filmmakers, but what is it that keeps the 80-year-old director and actor working when others have long since retired?
Eighty,” quips Clint Eastwood, “is the new seventy-nine-and-three-quarters.” It’s a typically sly Eastwood joke, casually addressing what seems to be the big current news about him – his having become an octogenarian on May 31 – while at the same time suggesting that nothing much is going to change for him as a result of attaining an age when most men (especially most movie directors) are tottering into irrelevance, if not downright senility.
With all his buttons firmly attached, his career at a common-consent high point, he and his actors keep winning Oscar nominations and prizes while he commands the awed admiration of the world.
And, of course, there’s more on tap, with Eastwood currently completing post-production on Hereafter, based on an intricately woven script by Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon). The film is, as Eastwood says, “a very romantic story”, about some people who, as a result of near-death experiences, are granted mystical gifts for understanding – well, yes – the “hereafter”.
Matt Damon is the nominal star, as a man resisting his own gift for second-sight and the Belgian actress Cécile De France gives a star-making performance as a journalist investigating her own expanded psyche after almost dying in a tsunami. Realist that he is, Eastwood does not necessarily believe in a hereafter and the film goes after the charlatans who infest this field. But, curious guy that he is, the director gives the possibility of expanded consciousness a very fair shake. “It’s an interesting topic at this time,” he says. And interesting (non-generic) topics are what he seems to care about most right now.
Take, for example, his next movie. After taking a break of a few months – he will have made three pictures in the last two years – Eastwood will begin production on what could well turn out to be his most electrifying project. This is to be a ferociously objective – therefore ferociously devastating – biopic about J Edgar Hoover, the late, unlamented director of America’s FBI. Brilliantly written by Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for Milk, it is an account of Hoover’s 40-year tenure as America’s ‘top cop’. Called simply Hoover, it is a wicked, sometimes darkly funny portrayal of the bureaucratic mentality raised to flash point.
Hoover is a man in love with – yes – his filing system, which contained all the dirt on America’s political elite, which, in turn, gave him unprecedented power over their careers, not to mention unprecedented celebrity, of which he was pretty much the sole manipulator.
In some sense, this is an almost unprecedented project for Eastwood, in that over the course of his career (64 films, of which he has directed 29) he has made only one previous biographical drama – Bird in 1988 – and he has never before made such an overtly political film.
For the full story pick up the July Red Bulletin Magazine.