The ris­ing sonofa­gun

Asa young ac­tor, Scot­tEast­wood had to pay hisway through col­lege, but ex­pect­ing­hand outs from his father Clint, one of Hol­ly­wood’s toughest ac­tors, would have been a big mis­take, he tells TaraBrady

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM -

Dad grew up in the Great De­pres­sion. His fam­ily had no money. He had no money. So he had to work. For ev­ery­thing. And he made sure his kids were go­ing to do the same

Scott East­wood greets me with an en­thu­si­as­tic hand­shake be­fore chill­ing back into a cross-legged pose on the couch. I can’t imag­ine his dad sits this way dur­ing in­ter­views. Or maybe now I can. Much has been made of the un­canny like­ness be­tween Scott and the younger Clint East­wood, a re­sem­blance Scott play­fully em­pha­sised by dress­ing up like dad’s name­less

Dol­lars Tril­ogy badass last Hal­loween.

Yet fam­ily ties – in ad­di­tion to the fa­mous fam­ily pa­tri­arch, Scott’s sis­ters Ali­son East­wood and Francesca Fisher-East­wood are also ac­tors – have not nec­es­sar­ily been help­ful in the young ac­tor’s cho­sen ca­reer.

“That’s just not how it works,” says Scott. “To be hon­est, the film busi­ness is not a busi­ness where, just be­cause your dad is an ac­tor, you get to be an ac­tor. It’s like any other line of work. It’s all built on rep­u­ta­tion and on your work ethic. There are a ton of tal­ented peo­ple out there. But they are too hard to work with. Or they are a pain in the ass. Or they just don’t have the drive or ded­i­ca­tion. It doesn’t mat­ter who you are: it doesn’t mean they are go­ing to be putting you in movies. You can’t just show up.”

There’s cer­tainly no sug­ges­tion that Clint East­wood ever put in a quiet word or Make-My-Day on his son’s be­half ei­ther. On the con­trary, while Scott has ap­peared in a num­ber of his father’s films – no­tably Flags of our Father, Gran Torino, Trou­ble with the Curve and In­vic­tus – he failed to get a call­back for Amer­i­can Sniper. That must have been a short con- ver­sa­tion? “Oh, there’s no con­ver­sa­tion with my dad,” he smiles. “You don’t even get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no. You just don’t get the call.”

No­hand­outs

Scott’s mother, Jace­lyn Reeves, was a flight at­ten­dant when she met the then-mar­ried Clint. Their af­fair lasted for years: Reeves and East­wood also have a daugh­ter, Kathryn. Clint, how­ever, has re­mained – lit­er­ally and fig­u­ra­tively – a big pres­ence in his kids’ lives. Scott spent many of his for­ma­tive years on his father’s ranch in north­ern Cal­i­for­nia and so much time on his father’s film sets that he can’t rightly re­call the first time he vis­ited one.

Tellingly, when he first started au­di­tion­ing, he used Reeves, his mother’s name, rather than East­wood. He needed to know he could make it on his own.

“I thought I’m just go­ing to give this thing a shot,” he says. “And if it doesn’t work, then I can go and be a fire­fighter.”

His dad, not a big fan of hand­outs, left Scott to pay his own way through Santa Bar­bara City Col­lege and to strug­gle through the lean early years of his ca­reer. By night, he tended bar near his San Diego home; by day, he com­muted to LA for au­di­tions.

Good grief. Shouldn’t he have de­manded a mis­spent youth mak­ing tabloid head­lines and do­ing ex­pen­sive stints in re­hab?

“Ah ha,” he grins. “Ap­par­ently I was do­ing it wrong; if I get a chance to go back I’ll make things right. You know that old joke? I spent half my money on girls and fast cars: the rest I wasted? I didn’t do any of that. That’s not how my dad does things. He grew up in the Great De­pres­sion. His fam­ily had no money. He had no money. So he had to work. For ev­ery­thing. And he made sure his kids were go­ing to do the same. I worked as a bar­tender. I worked as a valet.”

Look­ing back he’s glad he wasn’t handed any­thing on a plate. He uses words like “grate­ful”, “gra­cious” and “lucky” early and of­ten: “I know the value of things,” he says. “I have ba­sic life skills. I can change oil in my car. Be­cause I used to have to change oil. I was broke and that would save money.”

Hap­pily, there were other peo­ple on hand to check un­der the bon­net dur­ing the pro­duc­tion of

Fast and Fu­ri­ous 8. More than 15 years after the orig­i­nal boy-racer film zoomed into cin­e­mas, the $4 bil­lion-gross­ing-and-count­ing fran­chise sees re­turn­ing cast mem­bers – Vin Diesel, Michelle Ro­driguez, Dwayne John­son, Tyrese Gib-

son, Chris ‘Lu­dacris’ Bridges, Nathalie Em­manuel, Ja­son Statham and Kurt Rus­sell – make new chums with He­len Mir­ren (play­ing Ja­son Statham and Luke Evans’ moll-mother) and East­wood (as Rus­sell’s ju­nior partner, Lit­tle No­body), to take down su­per-bad­die Char­l­ize Theron.

“It was easy for me in that re­gard,” says East­wood. “I’m the rookie and I play the rookie. Fit­ting, right?”

Some com­men­ta­tors have noted that East­wood and, in­deed, his char­ac­ter – if you squint just right – is a kinda/sorta re­place­ment for the late Paul Walker, who died dur­ing the film­ing of Fast and

Fu­ri­ous 7. Last spring, var­i­ous out­lets at­tempted to kick up con­tro­versy by sug­gest­ing that Ro­driguez was (ap­pro­pri­ately) fu­ri­ous to dis­cover that Scott was re­plac­ing Paul Walker. (In fact, she sim­ply re­spect­fully said: “No­body will ever fill that role.”)

East­wood, who first met Walker on the set of Flags of Our

Fa­thers and who de­scribes the late ac­tor as a “big brother”, is keen to dis­miss any com­par­isons.

“In no way am I re­plac­ing Paul. My role isn’t even like that. My guy is the stick­ler for the rules rookie. Paul was a very close friend of mine so I thought this was a great way to re­con­nect, I guess. Be­com­ing part of some­thing that was a part of his life. And be­ing around peo­ple who were talk­ing about him.”

I’m not sure what the cor­rect col­lec­tive noun is for ac­tion heroes. An ex­plo­sion of Stathams? A crag of Rocks? An en­gine of Diesels? But I do won­der if the fa­mous on-screen-off-screen

Fast and Fu­ri­ous fam­ily aren’t ever af­fected by a sur­feit of testos­terone?

“Hon­estly? Ev­ery­body gets along, which is crazy be­cause, as you say, there’s a lot of testos­terone. All those guys are huge stars. All those guys are huge. You’ve seen them. The Rock is a big boy. But ev­ery­body is re­ally nice. And re­ally nice to each other.”

He has just seen the fin­ished film. For East­wood, who was al­ready a firm fan of the fran­chise, it was full of pleas­ant sur­prises.

“It’s not su­per heavy drama,” he says. “It’s Fast and Fu­ri­ous. You grab your pop­corn, turn off your brain and have a fun ride. But I was blown away by how fun. After we were fin­ished there was another 70 days of work for the sec­ond unit. So this is the first time I can see it with stunts and vis­ual ef­fects. It was magic.”

Directingam­bi­tions

He sounds gen­uinely en­chanted. Magic? Surely some­one who has spent their life in and around the “biz” isn’t so eas­ily im­pressed?

“Re­ally good movies shine through. It doesn’t mat­ter how much you know about pro­duc­tion. You can still be trans­ported.”

Aged 31, the ac­tor re­tains a par­tic­u­lar soft spot for the movies of the 1990s.

“There’s some­thing about the dra­mas they made back then. Un­for­given. Brave­heart. Courage Un­der Fire. For­rest Gump. Shaw­shank Re­demp­tion. A Few

Good Men. Those are the films I watched grow­ing up. And I still love them.”

He has been around long enough, he notes, “to tell a good direc­tor from a, um, not-so-good direc­tor”. Does he have am­bi­tions to fol­low dad (again) be­hind the cam­era?

“Def­i­nitely. Film, as ev­ery­one says, is a di­rec­tors’ medium. Al­beit a mas­sive col­lab­o­ra­tion. But – even when they didn’t write it them­selves – the direc­tor is there craft­ing and shap­ing all the way through cast­ing, shoot­ing, post-pro­duc­tion, mar­ket­ing. It’s a hugely creative job. And I’ve seen enough to think: How would I do this? I would have done that this way in­stead.”

For the mo­ment, hav­ing bounced from last year’s Sui­cide

Squad and Snow­den into Fast 8 and Pa­cific Rim: Up­ris­ing, he has plenty go­ing on. And he reck­ons he can al­ways go back to valet work: “At least I’d be driv­ing.” Just not so fast. He smiles: “Let’s just say that then.”

Paul Walker was a very close friend of mine so I thought this was a great way to re­con­nect, I guess. Be­com­ing part of some­thing that was a part of his life

Scott East­wood “It doesn’t mat­ter who you are,” Above right: dressed as dad Clint’s Man with No Name char­ac­ter

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