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Clint Eastwood

The Shady Side Of Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood has been in the “icon” stage of his Hollywood stardom for some time. Having celebrated his 93rd birthday in May 2023, Eastwood can boast of success both in front of and behind the camera during a career that has spanned from the 1950s to the present. From his early days as an actor — including his breakthrough role as cowpoke Rowdy Yates on the hit TV western “Rawhide” — to his more recent acclaim as an Oscar-winning film director, Eastwood’s work has been both provocative and popular.
As an actor, he’s best remembered for two characters: the gunslinging antihero dubbed “the man with no name” in a trio of so-called “spaghetti westerns,” and .44 Magnum-toting San Francisco police detective Harry Callahan, a role he played in “Dirty Harry” and several sequels over the course of two decades. Along the way, Eastwood has been nominated for 11 Oscars and won four, with his films “Unforgiven,” and “Million Dollar Baby” both taking home Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture; he was also presented with another Oscar, the honorary Irving J. Thalberg Memorial Award, in 1995. Meanwhile, Eastwood also entered the world of politics, mounting a successful campaign to become mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, ultimately serving for the entirety of his two-year term.
Despite enjoying all that acclaim, Eastwood has also experienced his fair share of controversy over the years. For a closer look, read on to discover the shady side of Clint Eastwood.
Clint Eastwood was just 23 when he first walked down the aisle, marrying Maggie Jones in 1953. When Eastwood subsequently found fame and fortune in Hollywood, reports indicate that he was far from a faithful husband; in fact, Eastwood confessed to a biographer that he was still seeing other women while he and his future wife were dating.
After he’d hit it big on “Rawhide,” Eastwood reportedly had numerous affairs with several women. Among these were a flight attendant, a TV reporter who’d interviewed him, and “Rawhide” stunt performer Roxanne Tunis, with the latter becoming a long-term relationship. Tunis — who died in 2023 at the age of 93 — gave birth to their daughter, Kimber Eastwood, in 1964 — while Eastwood was still married to his first wife (that marriage finally ended in 1984, after Eastwood had been in a very public relationship with actor Sondra Locke for several years).
As Eastwood told author Richard Schickel in discussion for his book, “Clint Eastwood: A Biography,” he didn’t know he’d fathered a child out of wedlock until that child was a year old, when Tunis surprised him by introducing him to his baby daughter. Eastwood compared the shock he experienced to an accident he’d had on a movie set. “I was lying on the ground with the wind knocked out of me,” he said. “It’s happened frequently in my life — sometimes some physical impact, sometimes mental.”
He was challenged to a real-life duel by the husband of a co-star over their affairFotos International/Getty ImagesBy the late 1960s, Clint Eastwood had graduated from television to movies, including the 1969 musical western “Paint Your Wagon,” starring alongside Lee Marvin and Jean Seberg. Eastwood and Seberg — both married — had an affair during filming on location in Oregon. Seberg fell so hard that she told her husband, Romain Gary, she was leaving him for Eastwood. Gary was not thrilled to learn of this, and offered a novel response: he challenged his romantic rival to a duel, using unspecified weaponry. “They never went through with it, and instead Romain left, and Jean called her publicist to confess she was madly in love with Clint Eastwood, and she needed help announcing she was getting a divorce,” said Karina Longworth in her “You Must Remember This” podcast, as reported by Mercury News.
What Seberg hadn’t realized was that Eastwood’s feelings for her were hardly as intense as hers for him. She was also unaware that, at the same time that Eastwood was cheating on his wife with her, he was simultaneously having an affair with another woman on the set.
Seberg’s assumptions that Eastwood would leave his wife crumbled when he ghosted her after his return to L.A. “Jean couldn’t believe that he could be that indifferent to her,” said Jerry Tam, Seberg’s publicist, as reported by Express. “She was a very vulnerable woman, and it was a terrible trauma for her.”
Given his clearcut issues with infidelity, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that Clint Eastwood has been involved with numerous women over the years, and many of these romances resulted in children. In fact, Eastwood is the father of eight, from six different women. These include his first child, daughter Laurie, who was the result of an affair while Eastwood was dating his future first wife; she wound up discovering her lineage when she was an adult, with her and Eastwood ultimately connecting and establishing a relationship.
In addition, Eastwood is father to daughter Kimber Eastwood, from the affair with Roxanne Tunis mentioned above; son Kyle Eastwood and daughter Alison Eastwood, shared with first wife Maggie Johnson; Scott Eastwood (his birth certificate displays the words “Father Declined”) and Kathryn Eastwood, whose mother is former flight attendant Jacelyn Reeves; Francesca Eastwood, whom Eastwood welcomed with his “Unforgiven” co-star Frances Fisher; and Morgan Eastwood, the only child to result from Eastwood’s second marriage, to TV news anchor Dina Ruiz.
Eastwood addressed his somewhat unorthodox parental situation in an interview with Esquire, crediting then-wife Dina for ensuring that all those kids had become integrated into one big, unconventional family. “I have children by other women. I gotta give Dina the credit for bringing everyone together,” Eastwood said. “She’s friendly with my first wife, friendly to former girlfriends. She went out of her way to unite everybody.”
Clint Eastwood was among the presenters at the 1973 Academy Awards. That particular edition of the annual award show featured an unexpected appearance by Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who accepted Marlon Brando’s Oscar — which he’d won in the Best Actor category for his performance in “The Godfather” — at his behest. She told the assembled stars and the worldwide TV viewing audience why Brando hadn’t shown up and was refusing to accept his Oscar. “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry … and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee,” she said, referencing the protest by Native American activists that grew into an armed siege lasting 71 days.
Shortly after Littlefeather’s appearance, Eastwood appeared on the stage to present the Academy Award for Best Picture, which also went to “The Godfather.” Prior to his presentation, Eastwood made an off-the-cuff remark that clearly alluded to and mocked the acceptance by Littlefeather. “I don’t know if I should present this award on behalf of all the cowboys shot in all the John Ford Westerns over the years,” Eastwood joked.
Eastwood’s words resurfaced more than 45 years later when a clip from the broadcast was tweeted by activist Rafael Shimunov in 2019, on the occasion of Indigenous Peoples’ Day (It also came amid reports that John Wayne tried to attack Littlefeather over her appearance). That clip reportedly racked up 1.6 million views by the following day.
The trio of films that Clint Eastwood made in the 1960s with Italian director Sergio Leone — “A Fistful of Dollars,” “For a Few Dollars More,” and “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly” — reinvented Hollywood’s approach to the Western genre. However, that opinion wasn’t shared by John Wayne, who felt that Eastwood’s dark, nihilistic character was a personal affront to every cowboy he’d ever played on film, essentially rewriting the history of the American West that his movies had idealized. “Do you know of any country whose folklore has been destroyed?” Wayne griped in a 1972 interview, as reported by The Telegraph.
That came into focus when Eastwood sent Wayne the script for “The Hostiles,” in hopes they’d star in the film together. As Eastwood told author Kenneth Turan in his book, “Ride, Boldly Ride: The Evolution of the American Western,” Wayne declined. “John Wayne once wrote me a letter saying he didn’t like ‘High Plains Drifter,’” Eastwood said, sharing Wayne’s critique of his directorial debut. “He said it wasn’t really about the people who pioneered the West. I realized that there were two different generations, and he wouldn’t understand what I was doing.”
Eastwood countered by sending Wayne a revised script that hewed closer to the older actor’s vision of what a Western should be. Wayne was unimpressed; according to his son, Michael Wayne, Wayne hurled the script into the ocean while declaring, “This piece of s*** again.”
Clint Eastwood was still married to his first wife Maggie Johnson when he met Sondra Locke, his co-star in the 1976 western “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” Locke became Eastwood’s on- and offscreen love, starring alongside him in several movies throughout the 1970s and ’80s. When Eastwood divorced Maggie in 1984, he and Locke remained a couple until separating in April 1989.
The split was far from amicable. Locke claimed she’d been blindsided by the breakup, which culminated in a letter from Eastwood’s attorney insisting she vacate the Los Angeles home they’d shared for nearly a decade. She responded by launching a palimony suit against Eastwood, claiming Eastwood used his clout to kibosh her own directing career. Locke’s lawsuit, however, was complicated by the fact that she was also married to someone else, a gay friend with whom she’d only had a platonic relationship.
The case wound through the courts for years but was ultimately settled in 1996 when Eastwood paid Locke an undisclosed sum. “This was never about money. It was about my fighting for my professional rights,” Locke told the Los Angeles Times at the time of the settlement announcement. The following year, Eastwood begged to differ. “If you look at [Locke’s lawsuits], money was the issue,” he told The Independent in 1997. “Somebody can make up stories and put on an act and play the victim … Some people feel that the world owes them a living.”
While Clint Eastwood himself has conceded that fidelity hadn’t been his strong suit, some other allegations involving women surfaced that were far more serious than cheating. In his 1999 book “Clint: The Life and Legend,” author Patrick McGilligan spoke with Fritz Manes, who alleged that he’d witnessed Eastwood beating his first wife, Maggie.
Manes — who died in 2011 — was no mere acquaintance; he and Eastwood had been friends since childhood, and he’d gone on to work as a producer on 17 of Eastwood’s movies. The two reportedly had a falling out during the making of Eastwood’s 1986 film “Heartbreak Ridge,” which resulted in the men severing both their personal and professional relationships. “Clint just turned round and knocked Maggie out cold,” Manes told McGilligan, in an excerpt published in the Irish Independent. “He really decked her, knocked her clear from the living room into the tub in the bathroom.”
Eastwood, however, denied that ever occurred, and fired back by launching a $10-million libel suit against McGilligan and the book’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press. “Clint Eastwood is not only an icon in the entertainment industry, but he is also a family man,” Marshall Grossman, Eastwood’s lawyer, told Variety when the suit was launched in 2002. “He is entitled to have what is written about him be accurate and truthful.” That suit was settled in 2004, with details of the financial agreement remaining confidential.
While Clint Eastwood may have balked at allegations he’d beaten his former wife, he did not disagree with a claim that he’d become physically violent with one of his children. That allegation, in fact, came from Eastwood’s son, actor Scott Eastwood, who recalled what took place during an interview with the Australian edition of GQ.
According to his recollection, he’d brought his sister Kathryn, then 14, with him to a house party. “I left, maybe to go get beer with the guys,” he said, recalling that he’d taken off and left his sister at the party, thinking nothing of it. His father, it turned out, felt it was a much bigger deal; when the “Dirty Harry” star next encountered his son, he slammed the teenager against a wall and then punched him right in the face.
“He popped me and said, ‘You don’t ever leave your sister at a party. EVER.’ And it was very old-school, very old-school of him,” he recalled. In fact, the younger Eastwood confirmed that corporal punishment was the rule and not the exception when it came to his dad. “None of this new-age bulls*** where you can’t even smack the kid because everyone’s afraid of being judged or whatever,” he added. “That wasn’t the way that s*** went down in that family … If you did something wrong, you were going to get punished. I [learned] quickly — you don’t do that.”
Clint Eastwood’s views on disciplining children aren’t the only thing about him that can be described as out of touch with modern sensibilities. During an appearance at the 2015 edition of Spike TV’s Guys’ Choice Awards, he demonstrated that his opinions about the transgender community are not exactly what one might describe as enlightened.
According to a report from Hollywood Life (via USA Today), Eastwood took to the stage at the event to introduce wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. During that intro, Eastwood compared Johnson to other athletes, such as NFL star Jim Brown and “Caitlyn somebody,” clearly referring to Caitlyn Jenner, who recently had come out as transgender in a “20/20” interview and, days before the awards, in a high-profile Vanity Fair cover story.
Eastwood’s joke reportedly elicited groans from the live audience and did not make it into the final cut of the broadcast. “We will remove the reference in the version that will air,” David Schwarz, Spike TV’s senior vice president of communications, told USA Today, confirming that Eastwood had indeed said what he’d been reported to have said about the transgender Olympic athlete.
In his 2008 drama “Gran Torino,” Clint Eastwood starred as crotchety retiree Walt Kowalski, an unapologetically racist veteran of the Korean War who nonetheless comes to the defense of his Hmong teenage neighbor, played by Bee Vang. While Eastwood was praised for casting Hmong actors in the film, he was also criticized for his character’s racist slurs, intended to demonstrate just how bigoted Walt was.
More than a decade later, Vang wrote an op-ed for NBC News, recalling his uneasiness during screenings when Walt’s racist proclamations prompted some audience members to laugh. “I found it unnerving, the laughter that the slurs elicited in theaters with predominantly white audiences,” Vang wrote. “And it was always white people who would say, ‘Can’t you take a joke?’”
During a 2016 interview with Esquire, Eastwood commented on that criticism by decrying political correctness. “That’s the kiss-ass generation we’re in right now. We’re really in a p****y generation. Everybody’s walking on eggshells,” Eastwood said. “When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.” In fact, when he gave a copy of the “Gran Torino” script to an associate, that person expressed concerns that it would be deemed politically incorrect. Eastwood, however, was undeterred. “The next morning, I came in and I threw it on his desk and I said, ‘We’re starting this immediately,’” Eastwood recalled.
Clint Eastwood told Spike Lee to ‘shut his face’ after criticism about lack of Black soldiers in WWII filmJeff Vespa/Getty Images“Gran Torino” hasn’t been the only Clint Eastwood-directed movie to incur allegations of racism. His 2006 war movie, “Letters from Iwo Jima,” won critical acclaim — but was also harshly criticized by fellow director Spike Lee. “Clint Eastwood made two films about Iwo Jima that ran for more than four hours total, and there was not one Negro actor on the screen,” Lee told reporters during a press conference at the 2008 edition of the Cannes Film Festival, reported by Reuters. Lee continued by claiming that the scarcity of Black faces in that film and its predecessor, “Flags of Our Fathers,” had been brought to Eastwood’s attention, but he’d refused to address it. “It’s not like he didn’t know,” Lee added.
Eastwood clapped back in an interview with The Guardian, conceding that while there were Black soldiers at Iwo Jima, none of them were among those who raised the flag in the iconic photo on which his films were based. “If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people’d go, ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate,” Eastwood griped, reserving some choice words for Lee by adding, “A guy like him should shut his face.”
Lee responded in kind, telling ABC News of Eastwood’s latter remark, “He sounds like an angry old man right there.”
Anyone who’s seen any of Clint Eastwood’s films shouldn’t be surprised to learn that when it comes to his political views, he tends to lean right. That was on display when he delivered a speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention — which wound up becoming one of his most controversial on-camera moments. That’s because Eastwood sarcastically addressed an empty chair sitting next to him as he stood behind a podium, with the chair supposed to represent then-President Barack Obama — of whom Eastwood was not particularly fond.
The 12-minute address, however, left many viewers baffled. In the media, Eastwood’s remarks were mocked and criticized, with the New York Times describing the speech as “rambling and off-color,” while the Los Angeles Times declared that Eastwood “has apparently lost his mind.” In a subsequent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Eastwood admitted he’d come up with the Obama-in-a-chair gimmick on the spot. “So it was probably at the time I thought this is — this — that was really stupid,” he said. “Why did I do that?”
While Eastwood has chosen not to apologize for his speech or the shots he threw at Obama, he did admit that he’d come to regret the whole thing. Asked in an Esquire interview to share what had troubled him in his life the most, he responded, “I guess when I did that silly thing at the Republican convention, talking to the chair.”
The circumstances surrounding his 2013 divorce were as scandalous as they were bonkersAxelle/bauer-griffin/Getty ImagesLike his first, Clint Eastwood’s second marriage ended in divorce, with him and Dina Eastwood (nee Ruiz) officially announcing they’d separated in September 2013. At the time, sources confirmed that they’d actually split the previous year.
Things took a strange turn when, just two days after that announcement, Eastwood was seen squiring around another woman, Erica Tomlinson-Fisher. According to sources at the time, Tomlinson-Fisher had recently gotten divorced from ex Scott Fisher and had contacted Eastwood’s office about suspicions she had that her ex-husband was romantically involved with Dina. While those two actually weren’t dating at the time, Eastwood developed an attraction to Tomlinson-Fisher, and they began to see each other.
While Eastwood was nurturing his new romance, his ex-wife did begin dating Fisher. That relationship soon turned serious, and the two were married in 2016 — with Eastwood and his ex-wife effectively swapping spouses with his new girlfriend and her ex. Eastwood and Tomlinson reportedly split up not long afterward; since 2015, Eastwood has been involved with Christina Sandera.
While promoting the film, Eastwood attempted to heap some praise on his star, but he wound up paying her a somewhat backhanded compliment by implying that her beauty had overshadowed her skills as an actor. “I’ve always admired her talent. She’s somewhat hampered sometimes by having this gorgeous face, the most gorgeous face on the planet,” Eastwood told the Daily Mail. Eastwood continued down that same path when he added, “She’s on covers and all that stuff. But she is a great talent, and it would be easy to overlook that, except after seeing this you realize that she is this great, talented person.”
Eastwood continued to laud her acting ability, pointing out that actors who sign up to work on one of his movies were well aware of his lightning-fast shooting face, rarely reshooting scenes and quickly moving on to the next — and that Jolie was among those who showed up ready for the challenge. “Angelina is a lot like Meryl Streep in that respect,” he said.

Clint Eastwood

Mystic River: Why Clint Eastwood’s Best Movie Still Holds Up Today

A filmmaker of Clint Eastwood‘s caliber is going to have a filmography full of gems. Primarily known for his work in Westerns, biopics, and military dramas, every so often, Eastwood steps outside his comfort zone and delivers in a genre that would seem completely unexpected on paper. That happened in 2003 with Mystic River, a neo-noir murder mystery drama that seems a bit forgotten or overlooked, even though it was a financial success and earned six Academy Award nominations. It represents Eastwood at his very best, breathing vivid life into complex characters as he examines a plethora of themes that range from loyalty, friendship, revenge, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

Mystic River is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, and it follows the lives of three childhood friends, Jimmy Markum (Sean Penn), Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon), and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins), living in Charlestown, Boston in 1975. Dave is kidnapped by two men claiming to be police officers, and he’s sexually abused by them over a four-day period until he escapes. The traumatic event shapes the three friends, and they ultimately lead very different lives twenty-five years later.

Jimmy is an ex-con that now owns a convenience store in the neighborhood, Sean works for the Massachusetts State Police as a detective, and Dave is your everyday blue-collar worker that still lives with the trauma of being abducted and raped. Their lives are forced together once again through tragedy when Jimmy’s daughter Katie (Emmy Rossum) is found murdered, and friendship is tested when all signs point to Dave being the murderer.
Mystic River Is a Departure From Clint Eastwood’s Other Work

Sean Penn held back by cops in Mystic RiverWarner Bros.

Eastwood tackles the material in Mystic River with a sure and confident hand. It also represents a unique departure from some of his other films. Much of the action takes place under the cover of darkness, and Eastwood is able to find beauty in that darkness. The filmmaker focuses on a character’s eyes or the gleam of a weapon, for instance, as darkness permeates most of the scene.

For the scenes that take place during the day, the filmmaker opts for tight close-ups that linger over the emotions of his impressive cast. There is something uncomfortably intimate about Mystic River, and that has much to do with the subject matter. None of this story is particularly easy to digest, and Eastwood adds to that discomfort with his choices to frame scenes in such a way that’s almost intrusive. The audience feels a growing sense of dread and tension as more of the story unfolds.
Using Lehane’s novel and Brian Helgeland’s screenplay as a blueprint, Eastwood profoundly explores generational trauma and how the sins of the past can leave a permanent mark on our present. Even though the abuse only happened to Dave, the effects of the event leave a mark on all three friends, with Dave being the primary victim and the others feeling a sense of survivor’s guilt for not being subjected to it themselves.
The ordeal forever changes their union because they’re never quite able to look at each other the same way again, as each friend deals with the trauma differently. Jimmy is stunned by the act of abuse but can’t give Dave the support he needs, which then bleeds into their present when Jimmy begins to suspect that Dave had something to do with his daughter’s murder. He doesn’t want to consider that his friend would do something like this because of the trauma he endured as a child, but as evidence mounts against him, Jimmy has to decide if friendship and loyalty overshadow his need for vigilante justice. The story is rich with so many complexities that make it some of Eastwood’s most compelling work as a filmmaker.

Eastwood also takes his time with the story and lets it unfold as it should. Mystic River is very nuanced, and he knows he’s dealing with heartbreaking subject matter that requires patience and respect. The story is grounded in so much reality that Eastwood seems keenly aware that a viewer might be an actual victim of this kind of abuse themselves, so he delicately approaches the topic and gives it the emotional weight it deserves.
He also shows the uncomfortable side of abuse where the victim, unfortunately, can be shamed because of the event. Dave becomes an outsider later in his life, even with his close friends, something that sadly comes along with this kind of trauma. Eastwood approaches all of this responsibly and provides a very balanced outlook to all the events transpiring on screen.
Mystic River has become known for its powerhouse performances, and Eastwood pulls the very best from his ensemble cast. While the scenes with the young actors are brief in the beginning, they set the tone of who these people will be twenty-five years later. Dave becomes the outcast because of the event; Jimmy lacks empathy and doesn’t trust authority, while Sean becomes the grounded one of the bunch and a police officer in an attempt to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.

Clint Eastwood Pulls Powerhouse Performances From His Cast

Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, and Kevin Bacon do a great job conveying the unspoken tension between all three of these characters. There is a sense of loyalty, but so much has taken place over the years that it has forced them all to lead very different lives. As a group, they are uniformly excellent. You feel the history between the characters and the bonds that were broken, only to be reopened by a new traumatic event.
On their own, Penn gives the performance of a lifetime as Jimmy, and it’s not a shock that this turn finally earned him his first Academy Award for Best Actor. Penn is a dominant presence in all of his scenes, and there is a sense of uncertainty whenever he’s around because you don’t know exactly what move he will make.

That’s not to say he doesn’t display layers. All of that bravado is broken once he finds out his daughter is murdered. It’s hard to pinpoint a director’s best scene on film, but what Eastwood pulls out of Penn during the “Is that my daughter?” sequence represents some of his very best work as a filmmaker.
Robbins also received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work here, representing a much-deserved win. As Dave, Robbins is the tragic and emotional heart of the story. The viewer feels instant empathy for Dave due to what he went through as a child, but you’re also left questioning everything when it seems like Dave could be the one who murdered Katie.
Robbins keeps you on your toes throughout, making you question his innocence while also seeing the tenderness in him as he interacts with his own child, who is just about the age he was when he was abused. As for Bacon, of the three male leads, he gives the most subdued performance, but it suits the character. He’s trying to make everything right and keep it all together. It’s a subtle performance that carries its own emotional weight.

Eastwood also makes the supporting roles worthy of attention. Marcia Gay Harding, as Dave’s wife Celeste, puts in powerful work here that earned her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination, while Laura Linney more than holds her own with Penn as his second wife, Annabeth. In addition, Laurence Fishburne also fills in as Sgt. Whitey Powers in another excellent part.
Mystic River is a haunting and poetic motion picture that showcases a director laying it all out on the table. Eastwood gives the audience everything he has as a director and pours it out across the screen in a film that is just as powerful twenty years after its initial release.

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Clint Eastwood’s Most Iconic Non-Western Role Was Only Possible Because Of This Actor


 Clint Eastwood’s role in Dirty Harry is considered one of his most iconic, and the film is a classic in the crime genre.
 Paul Newman initially turned down the role of Harry Callahan in Dirty Harry but recommended Clint Eastwood for the part.
 Newman declined the role due to his liberal beliefs, and Eastwood’s portrayal of Callahan differed from Newman’s perspective, but both respected each other.


Although Clint Eastwood first built his impressive career on Western movies like The Man with No Name franchise and The Outlaw Josey Wales, the actor’s biggest non-Western role in Dirty Harry is one of his most iconic, and it might have never happened without this one actor. Clint Eastwood began acting in the 1950s, and over several decades, became a staple in the Western genre. What makes Eastwood stand out is the fact that he has not only appeared in countless films, but has also directed them himself. Films like Unforgiven and Gran Torino have defined his career. However, Dirty Harry is by far one of Clint Eastwood’s best films.

In 1971, Clint Eastwood starred in the neo-noir action film Dirty Harry. The film, and its adjoining sequels, follow Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan, a rugged detective that is on a hunt for a psychopathic serial killer named Scorpio. The Dirty Harry franchise lasted from 1971 to 1988, and has since been considered a classic. In fact, Dirty Harry was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress because of its cultural significance. However, this film might have been vastly different if Clint Eastwood had never been in it, and scarily enough, this definitely could have happened back in 1971.
Paul Newman Rejected Dirty Harry Before Suggesting Clint Eastwood For The Role

Dirty Harry 2

Dirty Harry went through many production challenges before it was actually made, and one of those included casting the iconic detective. In the film’s early stages, the role was offered to actors such as John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, Steve McQueen, and Burt Lancaster. However, for various reasons, including the violence that permeates the film, these actors all declined. For a time, Frank Sinatra was attached to the project, but he also eventually left the production. In reality, Clint Eastwood wasn’t even in the cards for portraying Dirty Harry, but his big break came when Paul Newman was offered and declined the role.

Paul Newman, like many amazing actors before him, was offered the role of Harry Callahan, but ultimately said no. However, what makes his refusal stand out among the rest is that he recommended another actor that could be perfect for the role: Clint Eastwood. At this time, Eastwood was in post-production for his first film Play Misty for Me, meaning his career was taking something of a turn. Also, unlike his predecessors, Eastwood joined up with Dirty Harry, just as Newman thought he would. Because of his Western roots, the violence and aggression that made up Dirty Harry didn’t bother Eastwood at all.

Why Paul Newman Turned Down Dirty Harry

Paul Newman holding a gun.

Paul Newman turning down the leading role in Dirty Harry may not seem too surprising considering the host of other actors that also declined the movie, but Newman definitely had his reasons. While previous actors had condemned the movie for its incredible violence and themes of “the ends justify the means,” Newman refused to take the role because of his political beliefs. Since Harry Callahan was a renegade cop, intent on catching a serial killer no matter the cost or the rules that would be broken, Newman saw this character as too right-wing for his own liberal beliefs.

Paul Newman was an outspoken liberal during his life. He was open about his beliefs, so much so that he even made it onto Richard Nixon’s enemies list due to his opposition of the Vietnam War. Other issues that Newman spoke out for included gay rights and same-sex marriage, the decrease in production and use of nuclear weapons, and global warming. As a result of his politics, Newman quickly denied the role of Harry Callahan. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly as reported by Far Out Magazine, Clint Eastwood commented that he didn’t view Callahan in the way Newman did, but still respected him as an actor and a man.

Would Dirty Harry Have Been So Successful Without Clint Eastwood?

Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Callahan

Ultimately, it’s hard to say whether Dirty Harry would have been successful without Clint Eastwood. Arguably, any big-time actor could have made the film succeed solely based on their fame. However, one aspect of Dirty Harry and its carousel of actors is that the movie had various scripts, all with different plots. So, if Dirty Harry had been in a different location with a different serial killer and a different lead actor, there’s a chance it wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. In the end, Dirty Harry is a signature for Clint Eastwood, and most likely, audiences are lucky that it was made the way it was.

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The story of how Clint Eastwood prevented Ron Howard from embarrassment

A star of American cinema both in front of and behind the camera, Ron Howard is often forgotten when recalling the greatest directors of modern cinema, yet his contributions to the art form remain unmatched. Working with the likes of Tom Hanks, Chris Hemsworth, Russell Crowe and John Wayne, Howard has brought such classics as Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Rush to the big screen.
Entering the industry in the late 1950s and 1960s, Howard started his career as an actor, making a name for himself in shows like Just Dennis and The Andy Griffith Show before his role in 1970s Happy Days would catapult him to national acclaim. His directorial debut would come at a similar time, helming 1977’s Grand Theft Auto, the ropey first movie in a filmography that would later become known for its abundance of quality.
Known for his acting talents, Howard wouldn’t become a fully-fledged director in the eyes of the general public until the 1980s, when he worked with Tom Hanks on 1984’s Splash and George Lucas for the 1988 cult favourite Willow.
With hopes of becoming the new Star Wars, Willow was instead a peculiar fantasy tale that told the story of a young farmer who is chosen to undertake the challenge to protect a magical baby from an evil queen. Starring the likes of Warwick Davis, Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley, the film failed to make a considerable dent in pop culture at the time, largely being ridiculed by critics and audiences alike.
Screened at the Cannes Film Festival, the movie was spared humiliation by none other than Clint Eastwood, who saw the craftsmanship behind the picture, as described by Ron’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard.
Speaking to Daily Mail, the actor recalled: “My dad made a film called Willow when he was a young filmmaker, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival and people were booing afterwards. It was obviously so painful for him, and Clint, who he didn’t know at that time, stood up and gave him a standing ovation and then everyone else stood up because Clint did”.
Dallas Howard, who worked with Eastwood on the 2010 movie Hereafter, became very fond of Eastwood as a result, looking up to him as an exemplary Hollywood talent. “Clint puts himself out there for people,” she added, “As a director he is very cool, very relaxed, there’s no yelling ‘action’ or ‘cut’. He just says: ‘You know when you’re ready.’ I told my dad he should do that!”.
Take a look at the trailer for Howard’s 1988 fantasy flick below.

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