If there’s one actor who represents Americana, it’s Clint Eastwood. He’s an icon of masculinity, toughness, and heroism. But these qualities go beyond his on-screen persona: he’s the real deal!
He’s now in his 90s, yet he’s still in the game. His latest release was Cry Macho – released in 2021 which he directed and starred in. How many 91-year old’s have that kind of energy?
Did you also know that Clint Eastwood did many of his own stunts – including those in the film The Eiger Sanction?
And what about his life before show business? He’s been a steelworker, a lumberjack, and even a bouncer at a Military Officer’s Club! It’s no wonder he played tough guys like The Man With No Name, Harry Callahan, and Walt Kowalski with such ease…
Let’s learn about the incredible life and career of Clint Eastwood and why he’s the toughest man in Hollywood…
LIFE BEFORE HOLLYWOOD
Clint Eastwood’s toughness developed way before he played such macho characters in his films. He didn’t come from a showbiz family and had to struggle to find a career in the industry.
He wasn’t a particularly good student and went on to work a variety of odd jobs. These included working as a grocery store clerk, a paper carrier, and a golf caddy.
But he also had quite a few odd jobs that required both mental and physical toughness. These jobs included being a lifeguard, a forest firefighter, a lumberjack, steelworker, and a bouncer at a Military Officer’s Club – quite an impressive resume even before becoming a film star!
He worked at the Seattle Steel Mill before moving on to working as a logger. The pay was great for a single man, and he enjoyed the work – especially being outdoors among Oregon’s incredible nature.
But he knew that logging wasn’t his destiny. He eventually had to move on to something else. In fact, one day a large bundle of logs came down from the crane and were suspended above Clint’s head. He ran as fast as he could before the logs fell firmly to the ground.
As a bouncer at a Military Officer’s Club, he recalled having to keep some of his fellow officers in check. He had to throw out a few of them and he has stated that his height was to his advantage.
One wonders if Clint knew at the time that his tough persona would help him play similar characters in a film and television career that would span several decades!
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Clint Eastwood’s heroism is reflected in his movies and his real life. One of the bravest moments in his life occurred in his early twenties.
Clint had been drafted into the US Army during the Korean War. One of the perks, he recalls, was that he could get free military flights across the country. In 1951, he traveled from Seattle to Monterey on a Douglas AD bomber – as the sole passenger.
He was clearly looking forward to this flight, yet it turned out to be a nightmare! The radios stopped working and the oxygen supply began to dwindle. The fuel eventually exhausted and the plane flew into the ocean!
Luckily, Clint, the pilot, and the crew all survived and managed to swim to the shore. Clint later learned that the ocean was full of white sharks, and he could have easily become their prey!
This rather frightening incident, however, didn’t seem to traumatize Clint Eastwood. He continued to display such bravery throughout his life and even while working on his films.
One of Clint’s best performances in the 1970s was in the film The Eiger Sanction. This film required his character to assassinate a Russian killer who is part of a mountain climbing team! In the film, his character, Dr. Jonathan Hemlock performs many stunts – including one where he had to dangle over an abyss and eventually, fall!
Clint performed all but one of the stunts in this film. He often felt stressed about the stunts and had to undergo rigorous training. Nevertheless, he never gave up or asked his stunt double to fill in no matter how frightening some of the stunts were!
But it wasn’t just in The Eiger Sanction in which Clint Eastwood displayed his toughness through stunts!
One of the most famous characters that Clint Eastwood is known for is as ‘Harry Callahan’ which he played in the 5 “Dirty Harry” films. And a couple of these films, he also performed his own stunts.
Clint Eastwood himself jumped off a bridge on top of a moving bus In Dirty Harry. In Magnum Force, he rode on top of the hood of a moving car! In the film, The Gauntlet, there’s a famous scene where Clint rides a motorcycle while chasing after a helicopter. He actually rode the motorcycle for the scene!
Clint’s philosophy was that he shouldn’t cheat the audience by having a stunt double perform his stunts. While there were occasions when his stunt double, usually Buddy Van Horn, filled in – Clint was adamant that he should perform his stunts as often as possible!
A MAN OF MANY TALENTS
Nothing makes a man more masculine if he can do many things. A man of high value is one who has many talents. Clint Eastwood is truly a Renaissance man in this regard.
At the height of his stardom, he decided that he should try his hand at directing – which he continues to pursue with 2021’s Cry Macho being his latest directorial venture. Clint had the confidence that he could direct films as well as star in them.
He didn’t have a particularly good experience on the film Paint Your Wagon that directed by Lee Marvin. Then he realized that this experience taught him what not to do when making a film. He was confident that, in future, he’d do a great job as a filmmaker.
His directorial debut was in the thriller Play Misty for Me – released in 1971. He also directed the “suicide jumper sequence” in Dirty Harry which was also released in the same year.
Some of Clint Eastwood’s most popular directorial efforts include Bird, The Rookie, Unforgiven, Space Cowboys, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino, Invictus, J. Edgar, American Sniper, Sully, The Mule and Richard Jewell.
As a director, Clint has a reputation of insisting on full creative control with his films. He often ignores suggestions from the studio and makes the film as he pleases. Many of the films that he’s directed have become huge hits, so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s doing!
Apart from acting and directing, he’s also worked as a musician and singer! He’s composed the score for many of his films, including Paint Your Wagon. He recorded an album for the TV show Rawhide where he got his start. He also performed the song “Bar Room Buddies” along with country legend Merle Haggard. The song eventually became a Number 1 hit on the Hot Country Singles chart.
But Clint Eastwood’s talents don’t end in show business. He has also showed incredible leadership in his real life. He served as the mayor of the town of Carmel-By-the-Sea in 1986.
Part of the reason for serving as mayor was so that he could modernize the otherwise old-fashioned and sleepy town. He helped increase tourism to the town, increased the book collection in the town’s library, created more stairways for beach access, and built more public toilets!
He served one term before deciding to go back to his entertainment career. During his time as mayor, he focused on politics and didn’t let his entertainment career interfere with his mayoral duties.
CLINT DOESN’T HOLD BACK
What truly makes a man tough? One of the things is that he doesn’t hold back and speaks his mind – even if it’s unpopular. His rebellious nature, in real life and in his work is proof that Clint Eastwood is the Toughest Man in Hollywood.
Look back at a film like Dirty Harry and you’ll not only admire his performance, but how he wasn’t afraid to play a character with unfashionable political views – particularly among Hollywood’s elite.
Look at his performance as Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino and you’ll be amazed to see a character unafraid of being politically incorrect and putting others in their place. Few actors would dare to play Dirty Harry in the 1970s and even fewer would dare to play Walt Kowalski.
Clint Eastwood hasn’t been afraid to speak his mind. During the Presidential election of 2012, he mocked President Obama by debating an empty chair – a now famous scene! But he hasn’t been afraid to upset people on both sides of the political spectrum. He’s shown sympathy for liberal causes such as same-sex marriage as well as conservative causes such as limited government and gun rights.
He’s truly in a class of his own and this is what makes a man tough. He represents the ideal of the American pioneer and truly embodies the cowboy spirit that he’s portrayed in many of his films.
Clint Eastwood was once asked how he stayed so young even as he aged.
He simply stated, “Because I never let the old man in.”
Those, are the words of the toughest man in Hollywood!
Are you a fan of Clint Eastwood?
Do you think that there’s a contemporary actor that’ll make the impact that Clint has throughout his career? Or do you think that newer generations of actors simply can’t match up Clint’s iconic status?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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