â€œ Il buono, Il brutto, Il cattivoâ€ alias The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, was a big hit movie in 1966 that started Clint Eastwood’s career as an instant International star, but it wasn’t the only role that found him second fiddle to Richard Burton in those days. A tough-guy action hero with an offbeat humor, an exceptional talent, and later on, a brilliant director, Clint Eastwood has made his mark in the World as a living legend and a never-before icon who has set a standard in Hollywood that is truly unmatched by anyone else.
Nominated for an Oscar, six wins and six nominations, The Bridges of Madison County, which he not only directed but also starred in opposite Meryl Streep, was the most successful romantic drama of our generation.
This kind of love happens once in a lifetime if one is lucky, but expressing this on the big screen with seemingly little or no action to go on makes Eastwood the ultimate director of all times. Playing away from typecast, he proves himself diverse yet again with only one of the exact same ingredience as before: Excellence.
Charting onto tougher life-lessons, Eastwood then acted and directed arguably the best picture of his life, Million Dollar Baby, expressing the everlasting sorrow produced by a painful estrangement from love by blood, â€“ which then translates into a lost, but â€œtoughâ€ soul that has been seeking forgiveness for the past 25 years, despite the faÃ§ade of a â€œHell, do I careâ€¦â€ attitude. A critical and commercial triumph, the movie won the Academy Award for Best Picture, as well as earning Eastwood a nomination for Best Actor and a win for Best Director.
Both these movies linger with the soul for a lifetime. And, in one word, that is the trademark of Clint Eastwood.
The fact that he directed 9 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances just speaks about the magnetism and charisma he has on or off screen. Not a huge surprise then, that Clint Eastwood has again directed a new film that is vastly different from any other previous work.
This time the main character is Nelson Mandela in a breathtaking true story given life by such exquisite actors as Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in Invictus where the story is wrapped around rugby, a very popular sport in South Africa.
â€œThis project wasn’t approached because of rugby, like Million Dollar Baby was not approached because of female boxing either. It is the story of the use of the game, â€“ that’s what attracted me to the project and rugby. I like the game. The point however is that I try to tell about rugby as accurately as possible, but at the same token, the story is about the use of the game for reconciliation in a country that was on the verge of civil war when Mandela took office.â€
As obvious as history shows us, there must have been traps and possible held backs with such a task, which must have posed a need for a delicate balance for him as a director.
â€œMandela knew that the white population still controlled the army, the economy and the police, â€“ so he made the statement â€˜We need every brick to build the country, regardless of what color it is.’ â€“ and he did do. Yet, he did not strip a lot of the government offices, which is what politicians usually do, in which he is obviously a superior person, despite that he was in prison for 27 years. The normal human emotion would have been to come in and be vengeful, â€“ I think,â€ he says. â€œCome in and strip everything down, â€“ like we do it in this country, â€“ but Mandela sort of looked at the bigger picture of everything. That is what attracted me to the story, and in fact it was almost one of the biggest obstacles to not make him too Christ-like, â€“ but he is,â€ Clint concludes with a laugh-like smile. That famous one that supports what he means, yet charms you to your core, topping it with a voice that resonates with just the right decibel of authority and kind, unimposing intelligence. In other words, the qualities that make someone powerfully charismatic, yet deeply humble.
There is an understanding in Clint Eastwood that bubbles to the surface, but is hidden enough for the audience to discover layer after layer about the message unfolding in his films, unexpectedly reaching the deepest level of emotions in viewers. It’s a little bit like he seems in real life: starting a sentence, but then giving it up because there is just too much to say all at once and it is almost better to drop it and start anew scattering it all at once until one big painting becomes a Picasso. That is where genius is born.
When discussing the success of Mandela we touch on various points as to whether or not he was the ultimate success. â€œHe wasn’t successful in his marriage,â€ Clint says, â€œin his relationship with his daughter, and other children he had. And, I think he has, I am told, a lot of regrets about that, but he also came in and said, he was going to serve one term and that is it. And, I know how that feels.â€
While religion and culture separates people, this famous ‘95 rugby event really did bring people together in a way that sport seldom does. They were dancing in the streets together and everybody was having a great time. You had not seen blacks playing rugby before 1995, but now you do in the fields everywhere, although not always in uniforms. It is something people continue do to this day, thanks to the events of 1995.
Whether or not it is more difficult to portray a real story on screen than fiction depends on how well written the script is and whom one works with. On this film all of Clint’s actors were professional rugby players with just a few exceptions.
To the question as to whether or not he will play another role in one of his upcoming movies, which there is yet another one in the making right now, the answer is, â€œ Oh, I do not know. I never know what the last one is going to be, but I am at the age where they do not write a lot of great roles for people and I am happy in the back of the camera where I do not have to wear a tie and nobody is coming in saying â€˜this won’t match,’ so there is a lot of advantages.â€
What would he want the audience to capture from this latest movie?
â€œI would like the audience to understand this very unique kind of mentality that Nelson Mandela hadâ€¦ and think about it in terms of the whole world, â€“ if we could solve a lot of problems in a non-military way, this would be a great example.â€
Clint Eastwood, a five-time Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, and People’s Choice Award winner, continues to fascinate through his movies, always conveying a message that touches us deeply with lingering thoughts that only an artist with the deepest understanding can create. He is someone who continues to write entertainment history with every role he plays and every film he directs.