Many moviegoers know Clint Eastwood as an actor. He has been in over seventy films and TV shows over the course of his career. Eastwood stepped up to fill John Wayne’s shoes as the new western hero. He also played several other tough-as-nails roles including Harry Calahan, the hand cannon-toting cop who wants to know if you feel lucky. However, he doesn’t restrict himself to those kinds of roles. In fact, he doesn’t restrict himself to being an actor. Clint has also found plenty of success behind the camera.
Clint Eastwood had his directorial debut in 1971 with Play Misty for Me. Since then, he has directed forty-three films. His forty-fourth is currently awaiting release. He has taken home two Oscars for his directorial chops over the years.
Part of Clint Eastwood’s success as a director comes from his unique style. Eastwood is an actor first. So, he knows the best way to work with actors. He can get the best out of his cast in minimal takes. Barry Livingston, who played a part in Eastwood’s 2014 Four Seasons musical biopic Jersey Boys talked about Eastwood’s directing style in an interview with The Archive of American Television back in 2016.
Clint Eastwood’s Directorial Style
Barry Livingston starts out by saying that you may not think Clint Eastwood would be the right director for a musical. However, he notes that Eastwood is a musician in addition to his acting and filmmaking career. Livingston points out that Eastwood is a great piano player. So, he understands both the film and musical aspects of the movie. This made him a great choice to helm the film.
Then, Livingston goes on to talk about directorial styles. He points out that every director has their own unique way of doing things. For example, David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) likes to “wear actors out” by doing dozens of takes. Clint Eastwood, on the other hand, isn’t like that. He likes to do things in as few takes as possible.
There was something else very unique about the way that Clint Eastwood directed as well. When most moviegoers think of a director, they tend to think of the person in the chair yelling, “action!” to start the scene and “cut!” to end it. Eastwood didn’t do any of this. In fact, Livingston said the Eastwood was very soft-spoken on set. On top of that, he never said, “action,” or “cut.”
Clint Eastwood would start a scene by saying, “Whenever you’re ready.”
On the other hand, when it was time to end a scene, Eastwood would just say, “Stop.”
Barry Livingston said that, to him, Eastwood’s directorial style was the best way to handle actors. This probably comes from the fact that Clint has spent so much time in front of the camera.