He doesn't play Dirty Harry on his sets, but there are a few things Eastwood won't tolerate

By Liane Bonin
Updated March 30, 1999 at 05:00 AM EST
Warner Brothers

Sure, he’s the original Dirty Harry. But as a director, Clint Eastwood isn’t so tough… as long as his coworkers follow a few rules. And we’re not just talking about skipping the ”Every Which Way but Loose” wisecracks. Here are the ”True Crime” director’s three laws of filming, according to cinematographer Jack N. Green, who has worked with Eastwood on 27 movies.

DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF Forget Stanley Kubrick and his million reshoots. This is one director who doesn’t think it’s so nice to be precise, opting for jazz-inspired improvisation over perfectionism. ”Clint gives what I call a finger-wave rehearsal, where he points and says, James (Woods) will be standing over here, I’ll be roughly over here, and Denis (Leary) will be over here,” says Green. ”He hates putting marks on the ground.” Eastwood also films rehearsal, preferring the natural quality of a first read. ”There’s an adrenaline motivator that makes actors either paraphrase or stumble for the words in a really natural way,” explains Green.

TAKE IT EASY All work and no play doesn’t fly with Clint. Eastwood’s easygoing approach means shorter hours (9-hour days instead of the Hollywood average of 13 plus) and a history of bringing in the finished product early and under budget. ”It’s not that we’re slackers at all,” says Green. ”It’s just that in a happy environment you have better output.”

FRANKLY, MY DEAR, I DON’T GIVE A DAMN Audiences haven’t always loved Clint, and he couldn’t care less. While ”Unforgiven” and ”The Bridges of Madison County” struck gold, Eastwood flopped with ”Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” And ”True Crime” finished a disappointing No. 7 ($3.3 million) in its second weekend in release. But that’s not what truly matters to the film legend. ”I remember a time when we were filming ‘Bird,”’ says Green, ”when, after finishing a take with Forest (Whitaker), Clint looked at me and said, ‘I don’t care if anyone sees this film, this is such a wonderful film to work on.”’ One wonders if he said the same about ”Honkytonk Man.”