Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson's Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood, 1979-1983
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Clint Eastwood has forged a remarkable career as a movie star, director, producer and composer. These newly discovered conversations with legendary journalist Paul Nelson return us to a point when, still acting in other people's films, Eastwood was honing his directorial craft on a series of inexpensive films that he brought in under budget and ahead of schedule. Operating largely beneath the critical radar, he made his movies swiftly and inexpensively. Few of his critics then could have predicted that Eastwood the actor and director would ever be taken as seriously as he is today. But Paul Nelson did.
The interviews were conducted from 1979 through 1983. Eastwood talks openly and without illusions about his early career as an actor, old Hollywood, and his formative years as a director, his influence and what he learned along the way as an actor-lessons that helped him become the director he is today. Conversations with Clint provides a fresh and vivid perspective on the life and work of this most American of movie icons.
had described them to me, his projections and insights, his abiding gaze. I watched them with Paul even though Paul wasn’t with me at the time. We never discussed Clint Eastwood. I’m guessing now, having read Kevin Avery’s terrific reconstruction of Paul’s conversations xii C onversat i ons w i t h Cl i nt with the actor-director, that this was more than happenstance. Given the size of Paul’s engagement with Eastwood’s work, and seeing the extent and intimacy of their friendship, the way
could be a pretty flat show.” CLINT: One person made the point that in no town in the United States would that situation ever have happened—that many police shooting on a public street.39 PAUL: The comment had actually originated with Paul, in private conversation with Jay Cocks and Verna Bloom: “It’s a terrible scene at the ending. I had read somewhere that he really considered that a really, terrific, perfect screenplay that he didn’t have to do anything with, and I thought it was a
in Las Vegas. PAUL: CLINT: We went out to see Bob Berosini and his wife Joan. They had a place outside of Vegas because they were performing at the MGM T h e C onversat i ons 121 Grand there. They brought three of the orangs in to meet us, and they all came bopping in. Pretty soon they were all flocking around. The one male that really liked me, Manis, the one that played most of the lead, he just walked right over to me, took my hand. So I just talked with him, sat with him a bit. He
of having the fight cut away to other sequences that are playing simultaneously. So he wrote it in that vein, where all these little vignettes were going on at the same time the fight’s going on. Of course, when I told Warner Bros. they were ecstatic, because they didn’t know. All of a sudden, I had it and they said okay. CLINT: PAUL: Who directed this one? Buddy Van Horn. He’s worked for me before. You didn’t meet him because he wasn’t on Billy, but he did second unit for us on several
the security goes. You don’t have to have any security to direct a low-budget film when you don’t have the power to direct anything else. But once you get to a certain status, maybe you start thinking, Well, what the hell. CLINT: Kubrick seems to have lost his ear completely for American speech. The Shining is so stilted. I don’t see why he would want it that way. PAUL: I never saw so many good actors, really good performers you’ve seen in many, many films—all these people who are old