“Clint Eastwood is the least disappointing American icon I have ever encountered”, says Sean Penn, “He wants me for anything, I mean anything, a cameo, I am there without reading the script.”
“It was an experience unlike anything I have ever had on a film set”, explains Meryl Streep, “He shot rehearsals and printed them, we never did more than three takes, and he was open to ideas from anyone. And such a quiet, peaceful set that I felt so at peace. It was such a nurturing environment, I loved every minute I was working with him.”
“So much of my job is finished with casting, I hire actors to do their best and expect them to arrive ready and raring to go. The let me make a film, they hire me to shoot a film, so I am not going to sit around and play games. These people are the best of the best, they are professionals, they know their job, so yeah, I leave them alone”, explains the director.
As an actor himself, Eastwood appreciates a comfortable working environment, and believes that actors work best when they are nurtured and trusted. There is a famous story of Eastwood and actor Kevin Costner on the set of ‘A Perfect World’ (1993). Costner, by then an Oscar winning director, grew impatient waiting for a set-up, and stormed off to his trailer. Angered, Eastwood brought the actor’s stand in to the shot, re-arranged it to shoot over his shoulder and got the shot. Costner cooled down, came back and realized what had happened, and apologized, never doing it again. When he asked Eastwood why, he replied, “I am here to shoot a film, not jerk off.” Costner never let him down again and Eastwood responded with one of his finest performances.
He has been known to shoot entire films filled with complicated shots in less than a month, editing as he goes. Often, the beginning of the shoot to the release can take as little as five months, a pace unheard of for a major filmmaker.
“I never understood ten takes, even more than five seems wasteful when professionals are at work. Sometimes the best take is the rehearsal, so I run the camera, sometimes without the actors knowing”, he says.