Actor Clint Eastwood has worked with a variety of filmmakers during his years in the film industry. In his experience, there was one filmmaking habit he could barely tolerate from other directors.
It might have also showed Eastwood what not to do when he indulged in a career behind the camera.
Clint Eastwood once called out directors who did too many takes
Eastwood became interested in directing fairly early in his acting career. After getting his big break in the classic Western series Rawhide, he asked to direct a couple of episodes.
“Then, the production company reneged on their promise that I could do it,” Eastwood once told DGA.
“They said that CBS didn’t want actors who were in the shows to be directing the shows. So I kind of dropped the idea for a while and then, after I’d been working with Sergio Leone on A Fistful of Dollars, observing the crews in Europe and getting a broader look at filmmaking around the world, I got interested again.”
Opportunity presented itself when Eastwood eventually directed his first feature Play Misty for Me.
“It was a great experience, and I had the bug after that,” Eastwood said.
It was perhaps because of his own time as a filmmaker that Eastwood understood the process behind other directors. At one point, Eastwood became very critical of directors who did multiple takes. So much so that he called into question their qualifications and expertise as filmmakers.
“Some of these new directors will shoot 30 takes of a scene just because they don’t know what they want. They wind up with thousands of feet [of film], then they cry for some some editor to come in and save their butts. If you can’t see It yourself, you shouldn’t be a director,” Eastwood once told The New York Times.
Clint Eastwood has been known for only doing a couple of takes
Eastwood seems to have maintained his philosophy for limited takes in his more mature years. Actors like Matt Damon have been pleasantly surprised by the veteran star’s efficiency as a filmmaker. The Bourne Identity star had even gotten chewed out by Eastwood for wanting to do more than one take in Invictus.
“We did the first take, it went pretty well, but Clint says, ‘Cut. Print. Check the gate.’ Which means we’re gonna move on,” Damon recalled on Hot Ones. “And I said, ‘Hey, boss, maybe you think we can get one more?’ And he just turned and he goes, ‘Why? You wanna waste everybody’s time?’ I was like, ‘Ok, we’re done. Alright good, let’s move on.’”
But Eastwood believed his own habit for working quickly in films came down to his work on the small screen.
“I came up through television, and in television you had to move fast. The important thing, of course, is what comes out on the screen. I like to move fast only because I think it works well for the actors and the crew to feel like we’re progressing forward,” he said.
However, Eastwood cautioned that his reputation as a quick director could easily backfire.
“You don’t want to do Plan 9 from Outer Space, where the gravestones fall over and you say, ‘I can’t do another take. We’re too busy. Move on.’ You’re still making a film that you want to be right. But I find, as an actor, that I worked better when the directors were working fast,” he said.
Clint Eastwood once preferred directing over acting
Although he’s experienced massive success doing both, Eastwood asserted that there were certain benefits being a filmmaker had over being an actor.
“To doing both jobs, I’ve done it so many times that I never put the difference in. Directing a film is the same… it’s a little more leisurely that way. You don’t have to suit up. People aren’t coming in and combing your hair or whatever. It’s a little more leisurely, but different. But they both have an adventure. It’s a new adventure,” he said.