Why Clint Eastwood Believes Every Actor Should Direct: “It Made Me Much More Sympathetic”

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Clint Eastwood is without a doubt one of the most recognizable performers of all time, having almost completely transcended the industry to become a genuine cultural force in his own right. Eastwood’s place in the annals of great actors was confirmed by his overtly masculine performances in movies like Dirty Harry and the Dollars Trilogy by Sergio Leone.

Eventually, though, Eastwood attempted to convert his talents behind the camera, having already proven his quality in front of it. He made his directorial debut with the 1971 psychological thriller Play Misty for Me before delivering some of his most outstanding work in the shape of The Outlaw Josey Wales, Unforgiven, The Bridges of Madison County and Million Dollar Baby.

Eastwood once discussed the difference between directing a movie in which he also stars and being able to direct without having to worry about an acting performance during an interview with the Directors Guild of America. “You split your attention definitely,” he stated. “Most actors who have transitioned to directing have needed to be in the film to land the directing job, and that’s what happened with me,” the actor says.

The “ideal thing” for Eastwood, though, is to just be focused solely on directing. “To do one job and concentrate on that one job,” he commented. “I always expected to withdraw from acting at some point and just stay behind the camera, and in recent years, I’ve done that.”

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Nevertheless, Eastwood has starred in the lead roles of the majority of his films that he has directed, or at least those that are the most notable. He specifically mentioned one that he appeared in and was still able to exercise the level of control he desired. Even now, he reflected, “I had a huge role in Unforgiven, but there’s also a lot of the picture that I’m not in.

But in the end, Eastwood believes that every actor should try their hand at directing. He says, “I actually think every actor should direct at some point to learn the hurdles and the obstacles the director faces and the concentration it takes-an concentration equal to that of the actor, just in a different way.”

The effect directing had on Eastwood was one of “sympathy” for his directors, and he became an easy actor to manage after sitting in the chair for the first time. He signed off: “When the director wanted another take for reasons other than performance, I didn’t bog down and say, ‘Come on, what do you need that for?’”

 

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