Clint Eastwood directs and stars as an elderly World War II veteran and horticulturist who works as a courier for a Mexican drug cartel in "The Mule."
It’s a pretty great year at the movies when a couple of legends like Robert Redford and Clint Eastwood are still entertaining crowds well into their 80s. Yet while Redford remarked that his latest, “The Old Man & the Gun,” will likely be his acting swan song, Eastwood, 88, isn’t hearing any of that retirement talk.
Asked if his interest in acting and directing is beginning to wane, Eastwood, whose new film “The Mule” is out Dec. 14, tells USA TODAY, “Maybe I just don’t want a certain volume of work, but, no, it hasn’t lessened. I love what I do.”
In other words: Make his day, punk. He’s not going anywhere.
Earl (Clint Eastwood, right) attempts to mend fences with estranged daughter Iris (Alison Eastwood). (Photo: CLAIRE FOLGER/WARNER BROS.)
“I’ll probably keep on going. I feel good, but it depends on material. I probably wouldn’t do something just because it was marginal – I have to kind of think it has some validity and has some relationship to today,” says Eastwood, who mentions “Million Dollar Baby” and “Unforgiven” as two of his projects where “they’re not necessarily problems of the day, but they have a certain dramatic appeal that is worth studying.”
Eastwood is as efficient a filmmaker as ever: In a time when some directors take years to make a film, he prepped “The Mule” – in which he also stars an accidental drug courier for a Mexican cartel – in April and May before filming last summer and just putting the finishing touches on it earlier this month. He loves that he doesn’t have dull moments in his career: “It has ups and downs, but it doesn’t have a lot of monotony. When it gets monotonous, I think some people back away from it.”
He does ponder why the prior generation of filmmakers he admired left the business early. “I wonder why Billy Wilder quit in his 60s, or did the business quit him? Or maybe he just didn’t find enough good material,” Eastwood says. “I knew Frank Capra in his later years socially a little bit and I always thought, ‘This guy is so bright. Why isn’t he still doing it?’ With a lot of other people, was it that their health went bad or did they just get bored with it? I often wonder, because I haven’t gotten bored with it.”
Clint Eastwood (left) plays a Korean War vet who comes to his Asian neighbors' aid in "Gran Torino." (Photo: WARNER BROS.)
One aspect about performing in front of the camera that still appeals to him is the fact that he’s always learning something. “In acting out somebody else’s problems or adventures, it kind of brings out thoughts of how you would do it in real life or what your feelings would be about it to real life,” Eastwood says.
He mentions his character in 2009’s “Gran Torino,” a racist Korean War vet who’s negative about the world and other nationalities but ends up giving his life for his Asian immigrant neighbors. “Everybody thinks older people never learn anything – only school kids and young people,” the filmmaker says. “Older people, if they keep their mind open, can be just as interested in improving and learning and new knowledge as they go along.”
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