8 Surprising Facts about Clint Eastwood

His name is an anagram of Old West Action. He never actually said the line many attribute to him: “Do you feel lucky, punk?” Instead, in the opening scene of Dirty Harry, he challenges the bank robber to ask himself one question: “Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?” Close, but no cigar. Incidentally, he never smokes, despite his on-screen cigarette-love affair. Err… He was a swimming instructor for the US Army in the fifties. Um… He has four honorary doctorates from various colleges. I’ve got loads of these gems, read on to find out some more facts about Clint to drop that jaw of yours.

1)      He is an accomplished musician

He is an accomplished musician-002

Unfortunately, earlier in his career, this took him in the direction of bubblegum pop. Whilst enjoying stardom as the central character in the popular series Rawhide, Eastwood tried to branch out by appealing to young kids with the catchily-titled Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites. On the album, he sings cowboy favorites. Unbelievable, eh? Even more unbelievably, the record bombed. Fortunately, Eastwood took his musical career in another direction, becoming an accomplished jazz pianist and guitar player. In fact, he composed the scores for many of his films, including Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby and Changeling.

2)      He hates guns and supports gun control

He hates guns and supports gun control

As well as being a lifetime non-smoker, Eastwood’s character is at variance with his onscreen persona in other ways, too. He abhors violence and has expressed concerns about the growing levels of violence in film, despite making some very violent movies himself. “I am concerned about violence in film. In ’92, when I did Unforgiven, which is a film that [was] very anti-violence and anti-gun play, I remember that Gene Hackman was concerned about it, and we both discussed the issue of too much violence in films. It’s escalated 90 times since Dirty Harry and those films were made.” He has also placed himself in support of gun control laws, stressing it is important that guns don’t fall into the hands of just anyone… despite toting a ‘piece’ in almost all of his films. He is also against hunting, saying that it is unfair to kill an animal for the sheer fun of it.

3)      He has practiced transcendental meditation for the last 40 years

He has practiced transcendental meditation for the last 40 years

In 2013, Eastwood revealed that he meditates twice daily and has done for the best part of half a century! More than just a passing fancy then. He is an outspoken supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace, and even participated in a video for the foundation in 2011 endorsing meditational techniques for improving self-confidence, morale and releasing tension. He has, however, been a lifelong agnostic. Also, contrary to many internet-based rumors, he is not a vegan, and even had to be told what veganism was when confronted with the rumor.

4)      He rejected the chance to play James Bond

He rejected the chance to play James Bond-002

Imagine Clint as 007? How bad-ass would that have been? Apparently, he was offered the role of the slick secret service agent in 1969 for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but rejected it with the explanation that he thought Bond should be played by a British actor. Other roles rejected by Mr. Eastwood were Superman (which went to Christopher Reeve, who made the role his own), K in Men In Black (which went to Tommy Lee Jones), Willard in Apocalypse Now (it went to Martin Sheen) and Tony D’Amato in Any Given Sunday (Al Pacino took that role).

5)      He is the oldest man to score a US box office No. 1

He is the oldest man to score a US box office No. 1

Upon the release of Gran Torino in 2009, Clint was 78 years old. Directed by, produced by and starring the man himself, Gran Torino went to No. 1 at the box office and grossed a whopping $268 million worldwide. It remains his highest-grossing film to date. Four years previously, he had become the oldest man to win the Best Director Oscar for Million Dollar Baby. He is also the only person to have achieved the top ten actor list for Variety magazine in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

6)      His production company, Malpaso, is named after a piece of terrible advice from his agent

His production company, Malpaso, is named after a piece of terrible advice from his agent

In the early 60s, Eastwood was approached by Sergio Leone about appearing in the first of his ‘Spaghetti Western’ trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars. Eastwood was keen but was initially advised against taking the role by his agent, who thought the role of “the man with no name” would be a bad move (‘mal paso’ in Spanish). Of course, thankfully Clint ignored this terrible piece of advice and made, in hindsight, an incredibly good move. Years later, when he set up in his own production company, he remembered the bad guidance of his agent and so referenced it with a sly dig in the company name.

7)      As a director, he doesn’t say “action” or “cut”

As a director, he doesn’t say “action” or “cut”

So far, we’ve learned he is a non-smoking gun-hater who practices meditation… not exactly in keeping with the traditional image of tough-guy Eastwood. Reinforcing our faith in his manliness, however, is his refusal to comply with traditional Hollywood customs. Instead of “action”, Eastwood prefers a simple “okay”; and replacing “cut” is the far more expressive “that’s enough of that sh*t”. Despite the potty-mouth, Eastwood actually has a reputation as a very efficient and organized director, leading to him wrapping up Absolute Power in 1997 days ahead of schedule.

8)      He has been involved in two high-profile court-cases

He has been involved in two high-profile court-cases

Again this is more in keeping with the tough-guy image we might expect from Clint, though it does paint him in a bit more of a negative light. The first lawsuit was filed against him in 1988 after Stacy McLaughlin filed a $100,000 claim against him for intentionally ramming her car (it was parked in his space at Malpaso Productions). Eastwood claimed he was simply trying to park his car in the correct spot; he was forced to pay damages of $960 but nothing more. The following year, his former long-time partner Sondra Locke filed a palimony lawsuit against him for locking her out of their home and moving her belongings into storage. The saga rumbled on for years, with Locke suing him again in 1995 for fraud and breach of fiduciary duty. Finally, the pair came to an out-of-court settlement. Eastwood once said of his ex-partner: “She plays the victim very well. Unfortunately she had cancer and so she plays that card.”

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