Aside from his famous starring roles as The Man With No Name and Dirty Harry, Clint Eastwood has had an impressive career as a director. The 92-year-old, who still hasn’t retired, has a famously unique way of handling his stars on set – as shared by Dame Judi Dench in a new interview.
Dame Judi starred in Eastwood’s 2011 biopic of J Edgar Hoover with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. She played his mother Annie and admits she still hasn’t seen the film as she finds watching herself on screen “irritating”, preferring acting in the theatre.
She told the BBC’s Louis Theroux: “You don’t get so many goes at it either. I mean, for me, the whole filming is…is agony for me simply because you can’t…once it’s, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? Once it’s there, it’s there. If you’re in the theatre you can get it better on Tuesday and perhaps not so good on Friday. But in Film, you work on it and you do it and then the director decides and says, ‘Cut’ and that’s a print.”
Clint Eastwood: How Hollywood legend shut down Dame Judi Dench on set
Clint Eastwood on set of J Edgar The 87-year-old found this particularly frustrating when being directed by Eastwood, who regularly didn’t allow more than one take.
Impersonating their back-and-forth conversation, she said: “‘Mr Eastwood, could we possibly do that again?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Sorry?’ ‘Why?’ ‘Well, because we’ve just done it once. Could we have another go?’ ‘No.’”
Asked by Louis if she was curious to see her performance in J Edgar at some point, Dame Judi replied: “I’ll see it at some point. I have no idea [if I was any good in it].”
On the same subject, Tom Hanks has compared being directed by Eastwood to being treated like a horse.
Leonardo DiCaprio played J Edgar in Clint Eastwood’s biopic
Hanks told Jimmy Kimmel previously: “Well, here’s the deal in other movies they make a big deal about ‘Action!’ Y’know, ‘Alright, start it up, get ready everybody we’re rolling, we’re rolling, we’re rolling…and everybody, stand by! AND… ACTION!’ That’s what most movies are like.”
Eastwood, on the other hand, would quietly raise his finger in a circle on the Sully set to signify “rolling” and everybody else in the crew would do that same thing.
Hanks continued: “And then he’s standing right next to you and he says, ‘Okay, go ahead.’ And then you do it and maybe he’ll say, ‘Just take that again. Just do it one more time.’ And then you do it and he says, ‘Alright that’s enough of that.’
The star asked him what the deal was and where that came from. Eastwood replied that when he was doing his early 1960s Western TV show Rawhide playing Rowdy Yates, he had all these old movie directors who just loved the megaphones and the attention and they would do that.
Hanks shared: “So he and all the other cast members of Rawhide were on their horses and they were supposed to have a conversation and that whole build-up to ‘ACTION!’ would make the horses [freak out and buckle]. So one day he just said in his inaudible way, ‘Is there any way that you could just, y’know, tell us to ‘go’ instead of saying ‘action’ so the horses won’t flee?’”
He added on The Graham Norton Show when telling the story: “When you’re in a Clint Eastwood movie, you don’t know the camera’s rolling, and you hear over your shoulder, ‘Alright, go ahead.’ You just keep doing it until you hear him say, ‘That’s enough of that.’ And then you move on to the next setup. It’s intimidating as hell.”
Despite Eastwood’s different way of working, Dench admitted to Louis with a smile in her recent interview: “Clint Eastwood is the most laidback man I have ever met. You start at nine, you finish at four.”
Putting on the 92-year-old’s deep croaky voice, she said: “‘In your own time,’ that’s what he’d say. Then at the end of the scene, he says, ‘Stop.’ Not ‘cut’. And he didn’t shout it, either. Just that, ‘In your own time.’”