Although fans may have seen Jimmy Stewart as the ‘nice guy’ on-screen, Clint Eastwood warns that Stewart had a “great touch with his own anger.”
Both Jimmy Stewart and Clint Eastwood have had notable acting careers. In an interview with the American Film Institute, Eastwood praised Stewart’s acting abilities, one star to another.
Clint Eastwood Raves About Jimmy Stewart
Eastwood says that fans may remember Stewart for his “everyday man” characters. However, he could really let loose at times.
“Yeah, well, Jimmy Stewart had this ability, even though he was known as a guy who was very gentle and the guy with the rabbit (from the 1950 movie Harvey) and in playing like the Philadelphia Story kind of movies. But he did have this great touch with his own anger.”
Jimmy Stewart stood at 6’3″, well above the average height for a man. However, Clint Eastwood, who is a mere inch taller than Stewart, says that the actor could seem more terrifying than most while getting into scene.
“When he did an anger scene, you felt a genuine anger kind of develop inside of him, and though he wasn’t a big guy. He was a fairly tall rangy man, but he wasn’t a big man. He always managed to reflect that on the screen. You felt that he could be capable of the tremendous meanness if necessary, and I think that’s what propelled him along so successfully in all those Anthony Mann westerns over the years, because he was always the reticent protagonist who’d come along and he’d all of the sudden, you know he was Mr. nice guy.”
Better Than the Greats
According to Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Stewart was one man you didn’t want to make angry. Eastwood notes that Stewart did an even better job on screen than some of the greats.
“Then went crossed, and when wronged, he would step forth and really let loose. I think he did that almost better than any of his contemporaries of that day- Wayne and Cooper and some of the others. Especially the men who played westerns but even the Bogarts.”
Clint Eastwood compares Jimmy Stewart to another famous actor, Jimmy Cagney. However, although the two could give convincing anger scenes, Stewart stood out due to his calm and gentle nature.
“So that maybe Cagney would be very explosive, but he was an explosive personality, and you sort of expected that out of him. But Stewart, it was always held back to the last moment. And maybe that was that holding back to the last moment that made it so effective, but I think he just managed to be able to draw on himself when necessary.”
Jimmy Stewart died in July of 1997 after starring in over 90 movies. Although Eastwood raves about his ability to act malicious on screen, we will always remember him for his docile nature.