“Sergio Leone, who directed Eastwood in his breakthrough role in the Man With No Name trilogy of spaghetti westerns, said he liked the actor because he had only two expressions: ‘one with the hat, one without it.'”
Among other things, Eastwood dismisses the old tale that Frank Sinatra was dropped from the lead role in Dirty Harry (1971) when wrist tendinitis kept him from holding the cop’s huge .44 Magnum revolver. But it seems true that John Wayne and Steve McQueen both turned down the part before Eastwood seized it.
(Helpful time-waster: Try imagining Sinatra, McQueen and Wayne each snarling Harry’s signature line, “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?” Sinatra wins the delivery derby in our mind, with Wayne an all-too-easy-to-imagine second and McQueen a chilly third.)
The Guardian, not so well known in America, has some of the smartest film coverage and criticism online. (And for sheer fun, there’s their film blog.) This isn’t the first time they’ve interviewed Eastwood. Their critic Philip French did a (72-minute!) audio interview with him last year, which is posted here.
And in 2003 they transcribed his interview at the National Film Theater during the release of Mystic River. Including this thoughtful bit:
“There’s really no way to teach you how to act, but there is a way to teach you how to teach yourself to act. That’s kind of what it is; once you learn the little tricks that work for you, pretty soon you find yourself doing that. Sometimes you go off to the side of the set and you hit the table or something like that to get your steam up.
Or you can do the Olivier trick if you’re in a play – you stand behind the curtain and you cuss the audience out and tell them what lowlifes they are and when they open the curtain you’ve built up all this aggression that’s made you look larger than life.”