Clint Eastwood: ‘I don’t see myself as people see me, and certainly not as a legend’

Million Dollar Baby
Warner Bros.

In 2005, Clint presented Million Dollar Baby in Premiere.

C8 program this evening the poignant drama of Clint Eastwood, Million Dollar Babywho follows the boxing training of Hilary Swank . When it was released in the spring of 2015, the filmmaker answered Christian Jauberty’s questions in First (n°337 with Will Smith on the cover). We’ve selected five below to wait until the rerun of this classic boxing movie.

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Why did you choose Hilary Swank for the role of Maggie?

I saw her in Boys Don’t Cry [Kimberly Pierce, 00] of course, and in a few other movies like insomnia [Christopher Nolan, 02]. I like the way he plays, his presence. She looks real and always brings a little something to her characters that isn’t necessarily in the script. When I met her, I noticed that she moved very athletically. But she was also very thin, too much for the role. To bulk up, she had to undergo intensive physical training and a strict diet. I must say that his will impressed me. She wanted to do justice to the character with the same force that Maggie deploys to become champion

The atmosphere of Million Dollar Baby refers to some films of the 30s and 40s like We won tonightby Robert Wise [49]. Is it voluntary?

I really like We won tonight. It’s a really good boxing movie. I think one of the things that attracted me to this project is that it reminds me of fiction that could have been shot in the 1940s or other times, a far cry from those stories about contemporary characters who are waving in superhero costumes. I love my job passionately. But the more Hollywood tries to make prefabricated products, the more I find pleasure in playing the rebels by shooting stories in which the characters take over the special effects.

There is an equal share of joy and sadness in Million Dollar Baby [critique]

Is there a relationship between jazz (as for Mystic RiverClint himself composed the music for Million Dollar Babyeditor’s note) and your way of making films?

Certainly. I play the melody and respect its structure, but I also like to improvise to see what can happen. When an actor’s instinct leads him to do something different from what I had planned, I’m ready to go with it. I like that the people I work with feel free to try things out.

The word legend often comes up when we talk about you. How do you feel about that?

I don’t see myself as people see me, and certainly not as a legend. I have to live with myself all the time and familiarity breeds contempt. I have been making films in different ways – and with more or less success – for fifty-one years. It’s a lot. There will probably be people who say it’s too much. For others, I’m just part of the decor…

Do you feel the weight of those years?

I do not know. Recently, I was asked to record new dialogue for previously unreleased scenes from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. [Sergio Leone, 68]. It’s hard to believe that my voice could be the same as it was then… Fortunately, I didn’t have many lines. I found myself in front of the screen, facing a guy who was younger than my son. It has a funny effect. I had a moment of nostalgia thinking back to those days spent on the plains of Spain with Sergio, Tonino Delli Colli and the whole team. I tried to remember what was on my mind at the time, my dreams, but it’s hard. In any case, I could never have imagined then that at 74 years old, I would be doing what I do today. Instead, I pictured myself sitting in front of my house smoking a pipe, like Gene Hackman in Ruthless.

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