Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Mystery of Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino

Clint Eastwood

No, I'm not talking about the old Ford like the one driven by Starsky & Hutch. Gran Torino, according to Variety, is apparently the next film that Clint Eastwood will direct and - get this - play a leading role. The 77-year-old is returning to his thespian roots, despite the general understanding that he had pretty much retired from acting after Million Dollar Baby. The mystery doesn't stop there since we have virtually no details about the upcoming film, except that Torino is scheduled for a quick December release this year. Adding to this puzzle is the fact that Eastwood's The Changeling is due out just one month prior to Tornino. Very strange.

Plot details of the upcoming project aside, I'm more interested in why Eastwood is taking an acting role again. Last year, Paul Haggis, writer/director of the Oscar nominated In the Valley of Elah, told EW.com that he actually considered Eastwood for the role played by Tommy Lee Jones. Eastwood turned down the idea, stating, "Well, Paul, I was in retirement, I came out of it to do Million Dollar Baby. I don't think I can go out better, do you?"

So why the return? There must be something about Gran Torino that has piqued the legend's interest. An undocumented quote on Eastwood's Wikipedia page has him stating at one point, "if a good western script turns up, you never know." Hhmm…

Eastwood certainly has an affinity for westerns, though much of his recent work has not dealt with that time period. He last directed the World War II-era films Flags of our Fathers and Letters from Iwo Jima. And The Changeling is a period piece set in the 1920s. So does Gran Torino sound like a western to you? Equally confusing is the fact that Warner Brothers hasn't exactly officially announced the film, opting instead to quietly slate the film for a December release. Why all the mystery?

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