CC: That approach seems related to advice
I’ve read your father gave you about getting jobs.
CE: When I was a kid, I remember going out
looking for jobs, and I would ask him how I could
figure out how much I would make. He told me
to not worry about that, to tell them what I could
do for them and that I wanted to learn everything about their business and become a great
asset to the company. It’s an old-fashioned,
Mark Twain approach: Show them what you can
do and the rest will take care of itself. Not many
people live by those words today. I was fortunate
to be raised in that era.
CC: Thirty years after Play Misty, you
directed Mystic River for free. What was it
about Mystic River and then Million Dollar Baby
that made those films so difficult to make?
CE: When I bought the Mystic River story,
the studio thought it was a good idea, but by
the time the script was done they kept saying
it was such a dark story. But I said it was worth
telling. They hedged around until I went back to
where I was on Play Misty, and said I didn’t
want to be paid for directing Mystic River, I just
wanted to do the film. I was paid [Directors]
Guild minimum, and I took a percentage, so if
the picture made some money I would do OK;
if it didn’t, on to the next one.
With Million Dollar Baby, the studio execs
felt that it was a woman-boxing picture, and
there had been a girl-boxing picture called
Girlfight that had come out some months earlier. I didn’t see it—I heard it was pretty good,
but it didn’t make any money. So I had to say,
this isn’t really a boxing movie, that’s just what
this subculture is doing down in this gym, but
28 ;e Costco Connection JUNE 2010
In June, all Costco locations and Costco.com
will carry a selection of Clint Eastwood films
on DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD), including the
19-DVD box set
35 Films 35 Years, the BD
box set Clint Eastwood Collection and
Invictus. Warehouses will also be carrying
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Hang
’Em High, both on BD.
The Costco Connection
it’s really a father-daughter love story. That still
didn’t sound exciting to the execs, but they
finally said to go ahead and do it.
CC: Play Misty is also where you revealed
your interest in jazz. Not only did you play a jazz
DJ in the film, you also included performance
footage from the Monterey Jazz Festival.
CE: It was great. Once I got out shooting at
the jazz festival, one thing led to another. We
shot Cannonball Adderley, a big favorite of
mine, and had some wonderful footage that we
couldn’t use in the picture. In later years I tried
to get that footage back to make a jazz documentary, but Universal had dumped it all.
CC: In 1988 you did get to make Bird, a
film about the life of jazz legend Charlie Parker,
and there were reports in the press about you
talking with Leonardo DiCaprio about him playing another jazz legend: Chet Baker.
BORN IN San Francisco (1930), raised
mostly in Oakland. Drafted for Korean War
military duty, stationed at Fort Ord on
Monterey Bay. Bought his first house in that
area during Rawhide years, and gradually
acquired other property there, including
Mission Ranch hotel and restaurant. Elected
Carmel mayor for one term, 1986 to 1988;
completed two films—Heartbreak Ridge and
Bird—during that term. In 1999 developed
Tehama Golf Club in Carmel. Also in 1999
led investor group—including Arnold Palmer
and Peter Ueberroth—that purchased
Pebble Beach Resorts. Married twice, father
of seven children.
CE: He and I talked about it one time and
he was enthusiastic about it, but I’ve never
been able to get a script that went deeper than
just another guy who self-destructs. The thing
that made Chet different than Bird was that he
was sort of a matinee-idol-looking guy. The
first time I saw him, I was in the Army in 1951,
and the girl I was with ... when Chet came on,
you could tell that she was thinking he was OK.
CC: Some movies don’t find an audience
when they’re first released. I’m thinking of
films such as Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful
Life or Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane. Have you
been disappointed that any of your films didn’t
find the audience that you felt they deserved?
CE: I think that’s happened with a lot of
movies—that people look back in hindsight
and see there are interesting works that at the
time nobody really wanted to jump on…. For
me, White Hunter, Black Heart (1990) would be
an example of that, as well as some others. I’ve
learned this along the way: A lot of good movies don’t make money, and a lot of bad movies
do. That’s the way things happen.
CC: Would Changeling (2008) be in that
category? I didn’t see it get the attention it
deserved, but you did a great job of capturing
the look of California in the ’20s.
CE: It was one of those scripts that was
worked out very well, and everything in it had
happened. It was a terrible tragedy of that era,
and when you think back on that time, people
were driving in Model T cars and communications weren’t like they are today. I enjoyed
making it. It was not a picture that became a
big mainstream film, but it was fun to do.
CC: With Invictus last year, you put me in
a seat and then took me someplace I wasn’t
expecting to go—something you do consistently.
CE: Well, I’ve got a different one coming
out [scheduled for theatrical release in the fall,
2010]. Hereafter is an interesting film, I think.
I’m saying that with all due nonobjectivity. It
was fun to do. C