Veteran Clint Eastwood hits straight into Trouble With the Curve

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BEVERLY HILLS—Well, somebody had to ask. After his imaginative performance at the Republican National Convention three weeks ago, the Man With No Name Who Talks to Chairs—as he’s been referred to around the Georgia Straight office of late—was obviously going to face the music when confronted by a room full of liberal-media types at a news conference for his new film, Trouble With the Curve (opening Friday [September 21]).

And to his credit, Clint Eastwood doesn’t squint, grimace, hoist a .44 Magnum, or in any other way avoid the question. The question being, in a nutshell, “Come again?”

“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,” Eastwood says, his voice soft, as we sit there idolizing him. “And I did it in kind of a roundabout way which took up a lot more time, I suppose, than they would have liked.”

The 82-year-old actor also concedes that he’d probably do it differently next time. “I thought of that about five seconds before I started,” he shrugs. “When you walk out there, you get an audience of 10,000 people that are extremely enthusiastic, and your mind goes blank anyway.”

Fair enough. Let it be said, at least, that when he isn’t stumping for Mitt Romney, Clint Eastwood’s mind is anything but blank, and his presence remains undiminished. In Trouble With the Curve, he transplants the crotchety-old-asshole-with-a-heart character from 2008’s Gran Torino inside the story of an aging baseball scout dealing with incipient blindness, obsolescence, and a daughter (Amy Adams) carrying a lot of resentment for Daddy—something the two are forced to resolve when she joins him on a scouting mission to small-town USA at the behest of his worried boss (John Goodman).

Cue lots of baseball-as-metaphor drama, ably carried by a strong cast that also includes another résumé-strengthening turn from Justin Timberlake. But even with his two costars in tow, the news conference is all about Clint, and then mostly about Clint facing his twilight years on-screen.

“You get to a certain age, you’re just glad to be there,” Eastwood says, smiling. “I don’t know what to add to that. You have to be a realist, so you try to look for roles that are within the age you’re in. You know, it’d be kinda ridiculous if I said, ‘Well, I wanna play this 35-year-old guy,’ or something like that. They’d have to get a sandblasting machine out.”

Notably, Eastwood handed the film to long-time producing partner Robert Lorenz, marking the first time since 1993’s In the Line of Fire that Clint Eastwood has been directed by anyone besides Clint Eastwood. After Gran Torino, he explains, “I kinda thought, ‘This is kind of stupid to be doing both jobs. I’ve been only doing it for 40-something years,’ and I thought maybe I should just do one or the other, allow myself a little bit of [a] comfort zone. And so this was an opportunity for that, and he stepped right in and just took over, and I didn’t have to do anything except watch Amy throw the ball.”

He did more than that: Lorenz also gave him the chance to turn in an unusually vulnerable performance. For that reason alone, you can probably expect that Eastwood won’t be facing any more empty seats for the time being.


Watch the trailer for Trouble with the Curve.

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