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Monday, January 19, 2009

The Top 10 Awesome Things You Didn't Know About Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood has become a living monument of Hollywood. He is to film what Chuck Norris is to roundhouse kicks: the founding father and ruling king. His squint alone has the ability to make lesser filmmakers renounce the craft altogether and his gravelly snarl has made plenty of punks reassess the status of their luck. But everyone knows he’s a badass, and everyone knows he’s as talented behind a camera as he is behind the trigger of a .44 Magnum. But there are some things you might not have known about him.

By Nathan Bloch

The following article does not represent the opinions of Spike TV or its affiliates.

10. Clint has directed more movies than Steven Spielberg and George Lucas

Clint Eastwood's Questions

Can this be for real? A man who made his mark in this world for so long with his gritty performances of gunslinging toughs has actually directed more movies than the men who are arguably the two most famous American directors in history?

Clint has topped their counts?

Yes, it’s true. Clint released two films in 2008 (one of the strange times you could actually see a preview of an Eastwood movie at an Eastwood movie), as well as two in 2006, two in 1997 and two in 1990. He’s directed sixteen movies since 1990 alone. This is not normal. This is Clint Eastwood. Respect the man, for he is a living legend.

9. Clint played at Carnegie Hall


The man acts, directs, and he even plays a mean piano. And you know when Clint does it, it really is mean, as he demonstrated at Carnegie Hall in 1997. He’s played since he was a boy and is by all accounts self-taught, and has even scored some of his own films (Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino). This is what we call a triple threat. If anyone could take the ivories and make them lethal, it’s Clint.

8. Clint used to dig pools for a living

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - Six, The Perfect Number

This just goes to show that even Clint Eastwood came from pretty humble beginnings. Back when he was just getting bit parts in little movies here and there, Clint spent his time between acting employment digging pools for the Hollywood elite who’d already made their fortunes. Which means the next time you’re in the Hollywood hills taking a dip in your producer friend’s pool, take a moment to reflect on the flinty hands of Clint that quite possibly dug that pool for your overprivileged ass.

7. Clint tried his hand at recording pop records


One of the roles that helped make Clint famous was Rowdy Yates on the show Rawhide in the early ‘60s. In an ill-advised attempt to consolidate an audience amongst the teeny bopper crowd, he recorded pop songs meant to reach out to this demographic. He eventually recorded the album titled, “Rawhide’s Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboy Favorites”. Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone was in the mood for cowboy favorites from Clint or anyone else, and his brief stint as pop star ended about as soon as it began. Which is probably for the better. He turned out to be much better at writing scores for his movie and rocking the jazz standards, which is more than you can say for your average action movie star.

6. Clint was fired by Universal Studios for having an Adam’s apple that was too big

Inside The Actors Studio: Clint Eastwood on Getting the Role As Dirty Harry

This is one of those moments in cinema history that is just too ridiculous not to be true. After Universal signed Clint in 1954 for the princely sum of $75 a week, which landed him parts in forgettable movies like Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula, a couple of studio execs happened upon him one day and noticed his Adam’s apple. Deciding it was too big, he was out, just like that. The venerable Clint Eastwood was chewed up and spat out by a couple of Hollywood hacks.

Of course, it was only a matter of time – and not much time at that – before he was rolling, rolling, rolling rawhide, and those execs would be confronted with their own ineffable stupidity.

5. Clint received the French Legion d’Honneur award

image President Jacques Chirac, no less. Having received this award on February 17, 2007, Clint officially became a Knight of the Empire, which I suppose means that if France and Russia ever got into it like olden times, good ol’ Clinty boy would be at the front of the line to duke it out with Putin. I don’t care how many Judo belts Putin has, my money’s still on Clint.

4. Clint drives a beater

Gran Torino - Theatrical Trailer

One might think that with all the riches that come with Clint’s level of fame and success he’d be living about as high on the hog as he could without actually falling off the hog altogether. But one would be very, very wrong.

An anonymous source shared with me a very interesting story. My source, at the time, was an employee at the prestigious Hollywood hotel the Chateau Marmont and happened to see Clint, in the flesh, waiting for the valet to bring his car around. Cleverly quipping to the hoi polloi that surrounded him, “I have my Mercedes Benz here,” he patiently bided his time as the lower species of human marveled at the cinematic deity in their presence.

Clint stood there, squinting his scare-the-daylights-out-of-the-daylight squint, when up came his vehicle of choice. And what kind of vehicle would this be? The newest, slickest Benz on the market? No. In fact, a run-down, battered, late-‘80s Grand Marquis sputtered up to Clint, as if the valet had taken it upon himself to play a dirty trick on Dirty Harry.

But this was no ruse, this was simply more evidence that Clint is every bit the man’s man he appears to be. What kind of man needs leather interior? What kind of man needs a CD player, or seats that heat up, or windows that roll down? Not Clint. Clint only needs four wheels that are round and an engine that goes.

As Clint climbed into his Grand Marquis, the back bumper holding onto the rest of the car by a thread – or a Bungee cord, anyway – everyone else looked on in astonishment and admiration. And no one uttered a single word about the man’s mule.

3. Clint threatened to kill Michael Moore

Bowling for Columbine - Trailer

Once again, fact is way awesomer than fiction. So how exactly did Clint come to threaten Michael Moore’s life? Well, it just so happens that Clint got the opportunity to watch Moore’s film Bowling for Columbine, and he didn’t much care for the scene at the end where Moore sticks a camera in Charlton Heston’s face and pretty much makes an ass of him.

So, while accepting a Special Filmmaking Achievement prize for Million Dollar Baby at the National Board Of Review Awards in New York, he says, “Michael, if you ever show up at my front door with a camera, I'll kill you.” The audience laughs, everyone has a good chuckle, and then the laughter dies down.

To make sure everyone knows that this wasn’t a joke and there’s no punchline, he then says, “I mean it.” Gulp! These are the times when I’m glad I’m not a fat documentary filmmaker. Charlton may have been a gentleman about Moore’s boorish ways, but Clint, as always, knows the answer to obnoxious punks: the .44 Magnum.

2. Clint is allergic to horses

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly - I Thought You Might Tell Me Where We're Going

And you heard it first here. Now, while your reaction might be to recoil in horror at this juicy little tidbit of gossip, pause a moment and really reflect on this. The man has spent about half of his cinematic career sitting on horses. Horses that REPULSE his body. But did this ever stop Clint from getting the job done? Did he ever exchange any of his squints for a single wince? Nope. Not once. That's because while Clint's body may experience anguish over the hooved creatures that bring it pain, Clint himself is oblivious to discomfort.

1. Clint is a vegan


That’s right. You’d think Clint would maintain a steady diet of rare steaks, beef jerky and live ammunition, but no. He has said that, “I take vitamins daily, but just the bare essentials not what you'd call supplements. I try to stick to a vegan diet heavy on fruit, vegetables, tofu, and other soy products.”

Dang. Hard to believe the same guy who played Dirty Harry would also keep the same dietary habits of the hippies living in Haight Ashbury. Maybe that’s why he’s still in better shape at age 78 than most men are at 25. Well, part of the reason is that Death is too chicken to approach him when he’s awake – and Clint sleeps with at least one eye open. The other is because he apparently believes meat is murder.

Veganism just got 100% cooler.

Image source: Getty Images