A spaghetti western star whose ‘Dirty Harry’ films made him an anti-hero of the political right, the Oscar-winning actor and director later praised Donald Trump. But as he turns 90, his true legacy is as an auteur.
In 2016, when Clint Eastwood said he’d support Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton during the US presidential election, he also had a lot to say about the “political correctness era” that was “weakening society.” Sick of the “kiss-ass generation,” he pined for a time when “nothing was politically incorrect because everything was always a joke.”
It was something his character Harry Callahan from the Dirty Harry franchise of the 1970s and 80s might have said in a swipe at the social liberalism of the era.
But lately there’s been a shift. In February, Eastwood said he sympathized with the #MeToo movement, itself a vanguard of identity politics and political correctness. He stood by women and men who are “standing up against people who are trying to shake you down for sexual favors,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. He also endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg and distanced himself from Donald Trump.
As a director, Eastwood’s films have mostly transcended politics. The uncompromising auteur has emerged as a true artist, honored with best director Oscars for the arthouse western Unforgiven of 1993 and his stripped-back, heartfelt portrayal of a female boxer in Million Dollar Baby. He remains difficult to pigeonhole — and at 90 years of age, a formidable filmmaker who can’t be ignored. Last year’s Richard Jewell attracted controversy but also won plaudits and a place in the American Film Institute’s top 10 films of the year.