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Clint Eastwood

Why Clint Eastwood Always Tries To Use The First Take As A Director

Director Stanley Kubrick — in the name of perfection — infamously required his actors to do as many takes as sanity permitted. Actor Philip Stone, who played the ghost of Mr. Grady in “The Shining,” reported to the Independent that to took 50 or 60 takes to shoot a single eight-minute scene. Stone theorized that Kubrick, having come from a background in photography, was far more obsessed with aesthetics than he was with performance, realism, or basic understanding of what actors need to go through. Everything needed to be just so for Kubrick, or the actors would have to do it again.
Standing proudly in contrast to that kind of repeated, weeks-long meticulousness is Clint Eastwood, one of Hollywood’s most notable powerhouses — even without considering his acting career. With 39 directing credits to his name, the 92-year-old filmmaker has long been established as part of the Hollywood firmament.
Eastwood has adopted a directing philosophy that is 100% the opposite of Kubrick’s: Once the lights and the cameras have been set up, Eastwood wants conversations to sound extemporaneous, just like they are in real life. People don’t get “second takes” when it comes to conversation. As such, Eastwood has endeavored to use only one take per scene if possible. He seems to be a very hands-off director, trusting his cast and his crew to provide what they’ve been hired to provide.
In a 2005 interview with Film Comment, Eastwood elucidates on his laidback process.
Everyone just does it

In 2005, Eastwood had already directed 24 features, two of which had won Academy Awards for Best Picture (“Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”). As such, he had long since become confident that anyone he hired — many of whom he worked with on the regular — already knew what he wanted without too much communication. This unspoken understanding, for Eastwood, greatly streamlined the process, and allowed him to make films quickly and instinctually. Said Eastwood:
“Everyone directs movies differently, but the way I get that is just by doing it. Certain scenes I’ll rehearse if there are technical difficulties of lighting and camera. Fortunately I have a camera crew that’s very well oiled, so they pretty much know where I’m headed, without much explanation. And then, when we get to the point where I’m doing it, no one asks questions when I’m trying to get into the part.”Eastwood also stresses the need for actors to get on board quickly. Unlike Kubrick, he wasn’t there to rework their performances as infinitum. Eastwood likes a more casual form of conversation, something regular viewers of his films might sense: If there are long speeches in an Eastwood script, they tend to be subdued. Little feels orchestrated in an Eastwood film, and a lot feels improvised. Eastwood had even found that giving actors the constraint of few takes can bring out some great performances.

Given his broad filmography, Eastwood has naturally worked with hundreds of notable actors in his career, each one of which likely has a different style. Some actors like a theatrical, spontaneous, instinctual form of acting. Others prefer study, rehearsal, careful preparation and repetition. As Eastwood said, he tries to force all his actors into being the former, with, according to him, some rather good results. In Eastwood’s words:
“The objective is to make everything sound like the first time it’s said, so the only thing I can do is try to pick it up the very first time it is said. So a lot of times I’ll do it that way. I know some people don’t like to do that. And if it doesn’t come out perfect the first time, you have to go onward and upward with it. But you’d be surprised with good performers how interesting something can be the first time they try it.”Eastwood will only do multiple takes, it seems, if the scene requires a little more direction. His elder statesman status, he has seemingly found, has taken the need away from extensive directing. It’s only when Eastwood sees something done beyond his expectations that he’ll need to do another take. Period. No rehash of motivation. It’s all about rhythm and timing. Although Eastwood likely delved and micromanaged early in his directing career, by 2005, not much else was left to be said beyond noting rhythm. As Eastwood said:
“Sometimes the rhythm or the timing isn’t right, so you say let’s do it again with a little more tempo, or let’s not make a moment out of something that shouldn’t be a moment, or let’s make a moment out of something that should be a moment.”No tension on set

While Eastwood has directed multiple genres of films — thrillers, mood pieces, theological preponderances, musicals (!) — he seems to like the mood on the set to be, in his words, “relaxed.” Eastwood’s directing style stands directly in contrast with his famed personae as an actor; after playing grizzled gunslingers in multiple 1960s westerns and a grizzled, no-nonsense cop in the five “Dirty Harry” movies, Eastwood’s own personality as a soft-spoken square is what shines through in his directing. Again: Those familiar with his directorial career know how mellow — almost frustratingly so — his films can be. Eastwood confirmed this in the Film Comment interview, saying:
“I think that’s what keeps me doing it at this stage in life. It’s that every sequence has its own little challenges. And there are no rules. The rule is whatever it takes. There is no style for every scene. It’s whatever it takes to get there. You have to understand the people. You have to set an atmosphere and a tone where everyone can feel extremely relaxed and there’s no tension to obstruct what you’re trying to do. And it’s amazing what good things will come out of it.”No tension, no obstructions, no arguments. Eastwood seems to want a set where everyone, y’know, just does the thing. There doesn’t need to be any kind of pretense when you’re two dozen films into your career. His “just do it” philosophy has kept him prolific for decades.
Kubrick, meanwhile, only made 13 features in 47 years.

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Clint Eastwood

How Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry Adapted The Real-Life Zodiac Case

Dirty Harry is known for giving us one of the most legendary cops in cinema history, but all that big-screen fun was inspired by the real-life case of the Zodiac Killer. One of a handful of films responsible for propelling iconic actor-turned-director Clint Eastwood to stardom, Dirty Harry has become a paragon of the action-thriller genre. Its gritty, neo-noir style was a hit with audiences in 1971 but many had no idea that both the killer and cop drew inspiration from an infamous string of real-world murders.

The Zodiac Killer terrorized Northern California with a series of murders in the late 1960s. Despite only being active for a few years, the killer’s cryptic imagery and taunting style captivated the public consciousness for decades to come. Dirty Harry, which kicked off Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movie franchise, took inspiration from both the Zodiac himself and the real-world detective who pursued him. While the overall resemblance is loose, everything from the Zodiac’s name to the nature of their crimes had some influence on the film’s plot. Even the real-life serial killer’s bizarre aesthetic helped shape Dirty Harry’s wicked antagonist. If one compares the movie’s fictional killer to the real-life Zodiac, it’s crystal clear that this resemblance is more than just a coincidence. With all these similarities, how exactly did the movie adapt the Zodiac murders?

The film’s killer took many direct cues from the Zodiac Killer. Perhaps the most obvious connection is the name of the killer Clint Eastwood’s character chases being Scorpio. Moving from the name Zodiac to one based on a specific astrological sign is more of a hop than a leap. But the similarities between the real-life murderer and the movie serial killer don’t end there. Both are barbarous killers that appear to draw pleasure from playing a twisted game of cat and mouse with the police. At one point, Scorpio is depicted wearing a mask, a tactic famously employed by the real-world Zodiac during his crimes. Dirty Harry‘s Scorpio even shared his stomping ground with the Zodiac, with both operating around San Francisco.

The crimes themselves also took inspiration from the Zodiac. The real-life killer was notorious for taunting the police with a series of bizarre letters during his reign of horror. Scorpio copies this trait with a string of notes that appear to even imitate the Zodiac Killer’s handwriting. Dirty Harry‘s thrilling climax, wherein Scorpio hijacks a school bus, was inspired by a threat expressed in one of the serial killer’s real-life letters. Fortunately, this fantasy never played out in reality, but the similarity between the Zodiac Killer’s real-world crimes and those perpetrated by Scorpio bear an undeniable similarity.

Dirty Harry was clearly inspired by the Zodiac killings. Harry Callahan himself is said to have been loosely based on Dave Toschi, a detective from the San Francisco Francisco Police Department who pursued the Zodiac. Toschi’s signature style is also said to have been the model for Steve McQueen’s no-nonsense cop in Bullitt. David Fincher’s Zodiac even depicts Toschi watching Dirty Harry in a nod to the connection. Ultimately, whether one is more compelled by the movie’s dogged cop or its vicious killer, it’s undeniable that Dirty Harry took major inspiration from the chilling true story of the Zodiac Killer.

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Clint Eastwood

Meryl Streep’s Devil Wears Prada Villain Has a Surprising Real-Life Inspiration

The Devil Wears Prada is an unsuspecting comedy-drama that was released in 2006. Starring Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep, the film’s most memorable performance undoubtedly comes from Streep’s turn as the film’s antagonist, Miranda Priestly. From the moment she shows up on the screen, her presence is as intimidating as it is magnetic, but what many fans don’t know is that her portrayal was inspired by one of Hollywood’s most famous stars.

The film follows Hathaway’s Andy Sachs, an aspiring journalist who has gotten the job of being Priestly’s personal assistant for the high fashion magazine, Runway. At first, she doesn’t acclimate well to the lifestyle, but after being judged and ridiculed by her peers, she decides to join the crowd and fight to get ahead. However, as time goes on, it becomes clear that she has succeeded at the price of her metaphorical soul. Priestly, who was often at the center of Andy’s decisions, never had to do much to get her way but proved that she knew how to control a room and even a person.

In an interview with Streep, it was revealed that the reason Priestly was scary in the manner she is portrayed is because she took vocal cues from Clint Eastwood. An iconic actor at the time, Eastwood is best known for his roles in films like Dirty Harry and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. His gruff exterior has helped set him apart from his peers for decades and was something that Streep took note of in her portrayal of Priestly.

According to her, “The voice I got from Clint Eastwood. He never, ever, ever raises his voice and everyone has to lean in to listen, and he is automatically the most powerful person in the room.” Eastwood has always been a soft-spoken actor who never exerted himself verbally in a performance. Rather than hinder his characters, it actually helped, as it showed that he carried confidence into the roles, making the character appear highly capable. In The Devil Wears Prada, Streep does the same thing, but instead of a desert road, it’s a small office.

In every scene she appears in, Priestly never raises her voice. Instead, she speaks quietly enough to demand the attention of everyone within earshot. In doing so, it’s clear that she commands the room with little to no effort, and because of the status she carries, it’s integral to listen to everything she says. However, knowing she could speak more clearly and at a higher volume also shows her controlling qualities as she wants the attention and respect that comes with it.

The Devil Wears Prada is a unique film as it isn’t totally a drama or a comedy. As a blend, it becomes something else entirely that transcends the setting. Aside from the fashion, it’s a story about control and how easy it is to lose identity while trying to fit in. It’s also about masks and hiding the reality from people to maintain an image. However, because of performances like Streep’s, the film remains unforgettable. With the help of Clint Eastwood, Streep has been able to bring to life one of cinema’s most unlikely “villains.”

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Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood is a Triple Threat in Upcoming Adventure Film, Cry Macho

Actor and director Clint Eastwood has chosen his next directorial effort.

According to Variety, Eastwood will both direct and star in a film entitled Cry Macho. Based on the novel by N. Richard Nash, Nick Schneck is penning the screenplay while Eastwood, Tim Moore, Al Rudder and Jessica Mier all serve as producers. The project is set up at Warner Bros.

The project tells the story of an elderly horse-trainer who comes up with a get-rich-quick scheme by way of kidnapping a child in Mexico City and bringing the kid to his father, who is also the trainer’s former boss.

Cry Macho has gone through numerous iterations over the years. Eastwood had planned to direct and star in it back in the 1980s but opted to do The Dead Pool instead. More recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Brad Furman were lined up to do a version of Cry Macho in 2011 that never materialized.

Clint Eastwood began his career as an actor, garnering an iconic stature for his performances as The Man With No Name in Westerns like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. In the decades since, he’s headlined and directed a wide array of acclaimed dramas, including two Best Picture winners, Unforgiven and Million Dollar Baby.

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