Did the Republican National Convention throw Clint Eastwood a curveball?
If given the opportunity to redo his speech last month in Tampa, Eastwood told a roomful of reporters that he would indeed do things differently.
At this afternoon's press conference for "Trouble with the Curve," Eastwood's first film as an actor since 2008, the legendary star sat in the center of a long table, surrounded by co-stars Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and Matthew Lillard, director Robert Lorenz, and screenwriter Randy Brown.
The Q & A was lively and spirited, with Eastwood cracking wise at nearly every opportunity. The man may be 82 years old, but his comebacks are as quick as ever. And his acting chops have only gotten better; Eastwood's "Curve" performance takes him into uncharted emotional territory, subtly showing the kinks in the former action star's aging armor.
While the actors certainly seemed at ease with one another, and rightly proud of their new film, Eastwood's RNC performance -- where he spoke at length to an empty chair -- certainly weighed like an elephant in the room. However, as etiquette requires, most reporters kept their questions to the film at hand. (I wasn't about to ask Eastwood about the RNC. Would you purposely upset Dirty Harry?)
But one brave reporter pushed the bounds of etiquette (shocking, I know) and asked Mr. Eastwood what we were all wondering: "In terms of putting yourself in the public eye just before the release of this movie, your timing was impeccable. I'm wondering if you knew that your appearance at the Republican National Convention would get the response that it did, and how do you feel about that experience in retrospect?"
"Well it didn't get the response that I wanted because I was hoping they'd nominate me. My ambitions were tremendous."
A big laugh filled the room. The tension easily lifted as Eastwood went on to explain himself: "I don't know what the response was. My only message was that I just wanted people to take the idolizing factor out of every contestant out there. And just look at the work, and look at the background, and then make a judgment on that. I was just trying to say that, and I did it in a kind of roundabout way which took up a lot more time I suppose then they would have liked."
At the end of the press conference, another reporter asked, "If you could go back in time would you have given that same speech at the convention or would you have come up with something else and said something else?"
Eastwood thought for a moment, then slowly responded: "I'd probably say something else. But I'd try to get the same message across: that people don't have to kiss it up with politicians for the sake of -- no matter what party they're in. You should just evaluate their work and make your judgments accordingly. That's the way we do in life in every other subject. But sometimes in America we get gaga you know, and we look at the wrong values.
"I don't know if I'd do it the same way. I doubt it. Cause I thought of that about five seconds before we started. You walk out there and you've got an audience of ten thousand people who are extremely enthusiastic and you don't really get a chance to… well, your mind goes blank."
Eastwood, as an actor and a director, is famous for his capturing scenes in one to two takes. Apparently, as an RNC speaker, he needed another take.
Catch Eastwood's return to the big screen, the medium for which he's probably best suited, when "Trouble with the Curve" opens Friday, September 21.