Before he was a film star and a director, Clint Eastwood got his start in television. He starred in the popular western series “Rawhide.”
In a book on filmmaking, Eastwood discussed his early beginnings on the show and lessons that he learned about directing. The show taught him a couple of things not to do when directing. For instance, when he was on the show, production used megaphones to try to quiet the cast. Often, their efforts had the opposite effect instead.
“I remember when we were doing ‘Rawhide’ on sound stages, people would use megaphones to get everybody quiet. And the more people yelled ‘Quiet,’ the louder the extras would yell,” Eastwood wrote in FilmCraft: Directing. “Nothing was quiet. I realized that actors need a little bit of time to think, not feel pressured about the whole thing. Because not all of them are extroverted people who can’t wait to clown around in front of a camera. They want to stay there and get into a role, and I want to keep them there as long as they want to be there.”
Clint Eastwood on ‘Rawhide’
Eastwood starred as Rowdy Yates in eight seasons of “Rawhide,” from 1959 to 1965. The show offered Eastwood his first big break as an actor. But he also learned invaluable experience, which would later help him as a director. Since it was a TV show, “Rawhide” brought in a variety of directors for each episode. Eastwood often judged how effective they were.
After “Rawhide,” Eastwood got the opportunity to work and learn from Italian director Sergio Leone. The two worked on the “Dollars” trilogy, three influential Spaghetti westerns together. Eastwood took aspects from these directors when he decided to be a filmmaker himself.
“I took from everyone I worked with of course—from Sergio Leone and Don Siegel, and all the directors on the TV series ‘Rawhide’ (1959–66). You see different people approaching things differently and you can tell when they have a certain amount of knowledge or when they’re faking it,” Eastwood continued.
As a director, Eastwood had a much more relaxed set than his time on television. He believed in working individually with his cast to establish the best working relationship. The director also is fond of using only one or two takes for scenes in his movies. Throughout his career, Eastwood has directed numerous films, several of which he also starred in himself.