Born: 31 May 1930
in: San Francisco, California, USA
With his rugged looks and icon status, Clint Eastwood is one of the few actors whose name on a movie marquee can still guarantee a hit. Less well-known (at least until he won the Academy Award as Best Director for Unforgiven), is the fact that Eastwood is also a producer/director, with an enviable record of successes.
Born May 31, 1930, in San Francisco, Eastwood worked as a logger and gas station attendant, among other things, before coming to Hollywood in the mid-'50s. After his arrival he played small roles in several Universal features (he's the pilot of the plane that napalms the giant spider at the end of Tarantula ) before achieving some limited star status on the television series Rawhide. Thanks to the success of three Italian-made Sergio Leone Westerns -- A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) -- Eastwood soon exchanged this limited status for bona fide international stardom.
Upon his return to the U.S., Eastwood set up his own production company, Malpaso, which had a hit right out of the box with the revenge Western Hang 'Em High (1967). He expanded his relatively limited acting range in a succession of roles -- most notably with the hit Dirty Harry (1971) -- during the late '60s and early '70s, and directed several of his most popular movies, including 1971's Play Misty for Me (a forerunner to Fatal Attraction), High Plains Drifter (1973), and The Outlaw Josie Wales (1976). Although Eastwood became known for his violent roles, the gentler side of his persona came through in pictures such as Bronco Billy (1980), a romantic comedy that he directed and starred in.
As a filmmaker, Eastwood learned his lessons from the best of his previous directors, Don Siegel and Sergio Leone, who knew just when to add some stylistic or visual flourish to an otherwise straightforward scene, and also understood the effect of small nuances on the big screen. Their approaches perfectly suited Eastwood's restrained acting style, and he integrated them into his filmmaking technique with startling results, culminating in 1993 with his Best Director Oscar for Unforgiven (1992). The same year, Eastwood had another hit on his hands with In the Line of Fire. In 1995, Eastwood scored yet again with his film adaptation of the best-selling book The Bridges of Madison County, in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep; in addition to serving as one of the film's stars, he also acted as its director and producer.
Aside from producing the critical and financial misstep The Stars Fell on Henrietta in 1995, Eastwood's subsequent efforts have proven to be largely successful. In 1997 he produced and directed the film adaptation of John Berendt's tale of Southern murder and mayhem, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and followed this as the director, producer, and star of 1997's Absolute Power, 1999's True Crime, and 2000's Space Cowboys.
Bruce Eder, All Movie Guide