Feature

Why Clint Eastwood never yells

Eastwood lives by the Spartan motto “Get on with it.”

Clint Eastwood has no use for unnecessary drama, said Walter Kirn in Men’s Journal. The 80-year-old actor-director, long an icon of cowboy masculinity, really does see the world like the no-nonsense tough guys he’s played. He grew up idolizing actors like Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney—men who instinctively “planted their feet and told the truth” rather than “intellectualize” performances. “Cagney had a great influence on me,” says Eastwood. “He had tremendous nerve. All those guys did. They weren’t afraid. They weren’t trying to be glamour guys.”

He lives by the Spartan motto “Get on with it,” and as a director has become legendary for capturing performances in a single take. As angry as he sometimes may seem, his gruff voice barely ever rises above a whisper. A real man, he says, doesn’t make a fuss. “When I first got into the movie biz,” says Eastwood, “everyone was talking about, ‘Play it [with swagger].’ And I thought, ‘Why?’ Rocky Marciano [the boxer] was the toughest guy in the world, and he shook hands with me, and he didn’t come in all Texas. It was as gentle as any woman’s handshake. He didn’t need to break my hand, and he didn’t feel the need to show off.”

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