Has Clint Eastwood retired from acting?

Clint_lI stumbled across some Clint Eastwood news this week while I was bagging interviews for EW’s upcoming Fall Movie Preview issue and talking with Oscar-winning Crash writer/director Paul Haggis about his new film, In the Valley of Elah. Set to quietly knock you down starting September 14, Elah is a mesmerizing and sad true-life mystery-procedural about a retired military man (Tommy Lee Jones) investigating the disappearance of his soldier-son after the kid goes AWOL upon returning from a tour of duty in Iraq.

Not to rave on about it for too long, but Elah is the kind of great movie that rivets you as an entertainment at the same time it carefully sets about saying something deeper about the present time. Much more subtle than Crash, the movie is a brave risk — and whaddaya know, it turns out to be tough to make a film like that in this day and movie-age. Haggis told me it only came together because his friend Clint Eastwood, for whom Haggis wrote the script for Million Dollar Baby and Flags of Our Fathers, read the Elah screenplay and then called up Warner Brothers and put in a good word for the project.

So I asked Haggis if the rumor was true that he originally offered the Tommy Lee Jones part in Elah to Eastwood. His answer, in the Q&A reproduced after the jump, seems to indicate that we might’ve seen the last of Eastwood onscreen. Though Eastwood hasn’t officially announced any kind of retirement, it sounds like the 77-year-old director of Unforgiven may be done with acting.

Entertainment Weekly: There was talk of Clint playing the Tommy Lee Jones part. Is that true?
Paul Haggis: Well, that was my idea, but it was never his. (laughs) [Eastwood] told me from the beginning he was never gonna act in anything else. He said, "Well, Paul, I was in retirement, I came out of it to do Million Dollar Baby (pictured, with Eastwood and Morgan Freeman). I don’t think I can go out better, do you?" I went, "Oh, damn, how can I argue with that?"

EW: I didn’t realize he’d retired from acting.
PH: Yeah! [Million Dollar Baby producer] Al Ruddy, who was his friend, sent him the script [for Baby] and talked him into considering it again.

EW: Is that widely known?
PH: No, I don’t think so.

Hard to believe, but it’s worth remembering that Eastwood hasn’t appeared in somebody else’s movie as just an actor-for-hire since 1993′s In the Line of Fire. Since then, he’s appeared only in his own films; the directing’s really taken over. And of course, he did not appear in his last two films, Flags of Our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima, at all.

Are you bummed if indeed we’ve seen the last of Eastwood in front of the camera? What’s with the spate of old greats calling it a day lately — Paul Newman and Sean Connery both recently announced they were done? And if you want to get a little bit nasty, is there any old actor you’d actually like to see retire?

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  • Rose

    Wow. I don’t like hearing that. I think that he is a brilliant director. Absolutely but I will miss seeing his very handsome face on screen. Not just because it’s easy on the eyes but because I thought he was a great talent too. Unforgiven is one of my all time favorites and I’m not a fan of westerns.

  • BrandonK

    Yeah, I love me some Clint Eastwood. He’s done some great stuff, and I wouldn’t be disappointed to see him again. Same goes for Sean Connery and Paul Newman, but everybody deserves the chance to enjoy retirement, I guess.

  • Buttercup

    I know a lot of people won’t agree with me but I would rather see Warren Beatty retire. I never understood what was so great about him. The only movie of his I really enjoyed was Bonnie and Clyde.

  • Mike D.

    Seriously?!! I had hoped to see “The Man With No Name” appear in at least a couple more movies. At any rate, he left behind quite the line-up of masterpieces.

  • Sally

    I agree w/buttercup…better that Warren retire, but he hasn’t been in anything lately either….maybe he’s on his way?
    anyway, those guys should retire…come on….Paul Newman can have just so many face lifts for the camera…and he’s happy being a restauranter…and Eastwood seems better suited to direct….I’m not so sure I want to see anyone past the age of 70 in front of the camera and that means Jack Nicholson too. First they normally play younger than they are and they have women 1/2 their ages. They should be character actors at that point in their life not leading men.

  • Matthew

    YES YES YES!
    Warren Beatty. He hasn’t made movie since…umm, yeah. And he’s so conceited and stuck-up, it’s horrible.
    But I’m shocked Clint Eastwood is retiring. He’s a great actor [as is Connery & Newman]. I mean yes I guess they’re getting older, but really quitting acting for good? It just doesn’t seem right.

  • yothere

    Yes, I think it’s the right move for all of them and I say: Thanks for the memories, men. (This doesn’t preclude any surprise out-of-retirement Oscar worthy role.) They all must be plain…tired…of it all by now. Let them relax. Perhaps their basic human instinct plays a role here too – I mean would you want to see your aging face and body projected 40 feet high?
    What beautiful pictures we will always have of them.

  • kcholt68

    “M$B” was the role to go out on for him. Leave ‘em on top, leave ‘em wanting more.
    -kch, http://moviedearest.blogspot.com/

  • Priscilla

    Warren Beatty is a much underrated actor. He hasn’t officially retired from acting. He just takes ages between projects. Although it’s understandable that people want to bow out gracefully at a certain age, it’s a shame to see people with real talent and charisma like Clint Eastwood, Paul Newman, Warren Beatty and other contemporaries go. The generations that follow them are not half as gifted or charismatic.

  • Joe C

    Hey, retirement happens for everyone. I agree that I do get tired of seeing old gus like Nicholson paired with women half their age. If Clint has retired, then he went on top. Play your copy of Play Misty for Me in tribute.

  • Emperor Norton

    Yow guys,
    Here’s a central reason why American cinema is so flat and shallow.
    To actually not want to look at older faces? That’s where the wisdom is.
    I miss Jack Warden, and Toshiro Mifune, and Richard Harris, and I’d definitely miss Clint and Paul. I love to see Vanessa Redgrave, and Cloris Leachman, and Olympia Dukakis.
    When people are intelligent and well-rounded actors, I love to see them age and love to see what they bring to characters as they become seasoned human beings.
    We only seem to get the stories of the slender, the high-cheekboned, and the young. That’s pretty dull.
    Bring on the elders, the people of color, the unusual, and the deep. Young, pretty people are nice to look at, but they don’t have much substance!

  • Joaquin Carrasquilla

    I’m a huge fan of Clint, I will miss him out acting in films, but I thinks he deserve to retire from acting, some times,as an artist(I speak for myself too)you get tired of doing the same thing and need another challenges,he gave all us a lot,if he wants to retire in the top do so, people will always remember him!.

  • Ned

    I would like to see Clint do one more Dirty Harry, have him in retirement, then a serial killer taunts him back into the game.

  • BrandonK

    Emperor Norton, just because someone is pretty, that doesn’t mean they’re not deep or interesting. Conversely, being old and wrinkly doesn’t automatically make one wise or a good actor or whatever.

  • cary

    Clint likes what he is doing now, I’d bet. I say, Leave him be. Because of his success we see better movie material. I’d much rather hang out w/ someone that’s been to the circus than someone that hasn’t. Its cool that he is semi retired but still has an influence on the quality of the product.

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