Its one curveball after another for maverick Clint Eastwood
By Geoff BoucherLos Angeles Times | Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Mileage and misadventure leave their marks, but we don’t always notice the damage right away. For instance, Clint Eastwood recently had a realization that stopped him in his tracks just outside his bungalow on the Warner Bros. lot.
“Son of a gun,” the 82-year-old muttered as he leaned over his beloved 1992 GMC Typhoon and dragged an index finger over the mysterious inch-long scratch marring the forest-green paint just above the grill.
A little later, sitting among the brown-leather shadows of his office, Eastwood seemed considerably less concerned about any dents in his reputation after his eccentric, meandering speech at the Republican National Convention late last month.
“I didn’t want to do the usual teleprompter thing. ... I didn’t know what ... I was going to do,” the genial star said of his spur-of-the-moment decision to use an empty chair as a prop representing President Barack Obama. “If I had more time, I would have organized more. Maybe, but I don’t know.”
As Eastwood related his tales of Tampa, he nodded to the couch cushion next to him for effect even though it wasn’t empty, it was occupied by Robert Lorenz, the director and co-producer of “Trouble With the Curve.” The two have worked together since 1994, and when Eastwood said the Republican leadership “probably had a little apoplexy” during the speech, a winking Lorenz said he could feel their pain.
“That kind of sums up what it’s like to direct Clint Eastwood,” Lorenz deadpanned. “You never know what’s going to come out. But at least you have an advantage of having an editor afterwards.”
The two laughed, but during the interview, there were moments when Lorenz’s tight grin looked suspiciously like the silver-medalist smiles you see at the Olympics. If that was indeed the case, it would be understandable. Eastwood’s speech might be a strike against “Trouble With the Curve” before the movie even gets up to bat.
Opening Friday, the movie stars Eastwood as the cantankerous Gus Lobel, a baseball scout who may be in the last inning of his storied career as his eyesight goes out.
Eastwood last appeared onscreen in 2008 in “Gran Torino” as Walt Kowalski, another man staring into the twilight with a scowl and clenched fists. “Get off my lawn,” Kowalski snarled, adding a surprise late-career entry to the Eastwood catchphrase collection.
“There are certain things people enjoy seeing Clint do on the screen,” Lorenz said. “You can make the characters different, and they are different, but there is a quality to the character that people enjoy seeing up on the screen, of course, so you don’t want to run from that.”
Eastwood punctuated Lorenz’s thought: “They enjoy my unpleasantness.”
He might be on to something with that. “Gran Torino,” directed by Eastwood, had a production budget of $33 million and went on to gross $270 million worldwide. But the longtime box office hero isn’t motivated by commercial imperatives, and most people (himself included) expected it would be his last screen appearance considering the recent career emphasis and vigor he’s found in directing. With “Curve,” he’s acted in five films since 2000, but in that same window he’s directed 11 feature films with several gaining serious critical accolades and major trophy attention.
Was Lorenz distressed later about the possible effects Eastwood’s appearance at the RNC might have on his film? Lorenz hesitated, and Eastwood filled the space. “He was thinking maybe we shouldn’t release this movie,” the actor deadpanned.
The response came from the not-empty seat next to him on the couch.
“I’ve learned from Clint over the years that there really isn’t any such thing as bad publicity and he’s going to do what he does and go out there and be himself. Clint people love Clint, and that’s not changing. And so it’ll all be fine.”