Clint Eastwood has finally explained why he decided to address an empty chair during his speech at last week’s Republican National Convention. As further proof that the “Million Dollar Baby” director does things in his own unique way, he chose to comment on this much-debated matter exclusively to the Carmel Pine Cone, a weekly newspaper in Monterey County with a print circulation of 19,000. While that media-strategy decision may sound odd, it’s not quite as weird or unprecedented as it sounds. (More on that in a minute.) It also allows him to weigh in on this matter on his own terms before he begins doing media for his next movie, the baseball dramedy “Trouble With the Curve.”
Now, let’s get to Eastwood’s account of what happened before he spoke in Tampa and inspired a generation to create a tidalwave of memes.
Compelled to speak because he feels “President Obama is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and also to demonstrate that Hollywood is not populated solely by lefties, Eastwood said he agreed to appear at the convention after Mitt Romney extended a personal invitation
Romney’s aides, naturally, wanted to know what Eastwood planned to say, to which the film icon responded, “You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say.” Apparently Romney’s staff was fine with that because they’ve seen “Dirty Harry” a ton of times and know better than to mess with that guy.
Eastwood said he didn’t start outlining his remarks until after he had gotten to Tampa on Thursday and taken a nap at his hotel. But even with a loose outline in place, the concept that would eventually lead to the creation of an Invisible Obama Twitter account didn’t strike him until 15 or 20 minutes before he was scheduled to speak.
From the Pine Cone:
“‘There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down,’” Eastwood said. ‘When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody.’”
Getting an Eastwood exclusive is not unusual for the Pine Cone, which covers the town where Eastwood once served as mayor and only exists online in PDF form. In 2003, as this L.A. Times profile notes, the small newspaper attracted national attention when the Oscar winner voiced his opposition to recalling then-California governor Gray Davis within its pages
Eastwood’s manager Leonard Hirshan told the Associated Press this week that his longtime client still plans to participate in the upcoming media junket for “Trouble With the Curve,” which opens Sept. 21. Presumably Eastwood will still get questions about his RNC speech, but by taking a preemptive approach to providing answers, perhaps he’s attempting to make sure this matter doesn’t derail every interview. He also may be hoping to blunt any negative impact this whole episode may have on the movie’s box office fortunes. Either that, or he just felt like talking to the Pine Cone. Or both.
When it comes to the independent-thinking Eastwood, any and all of these things are possible.
One thing is certain: the conversation between Eastwood and a chair ended up being 85 times more interesting than anything that happened during this year’s MTV Video Music Awards.