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Why Clint Eastwood only ever does one take

Some directors are so exacting they want to do hundreds of takes to achieve their vision but not Clint Eastwood, he's famously a one and done guy, here's why

Clint Eastwood in The Mule

Some directors have such a clear vision of what they want to achieve that they’ll do hundreds upon hundreds of takes to get what they need. This rather intense attitude to filmmaking works for directors like David Fincher, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese, who’ve made some of the best movies ever.

Still, not everyone agrees with doing multiple takes, most notably Clint Eastwood, who’s infamous in Hollywood for his one-and-done approach to filmmaking. This slightly less hands-on approach led to Scatman Crothers openly crying with joy when he worked with Eastwood as he’d spent months doing hundred of takes for Stanley Kubrick’s horror movie The Shining.

In an interview with Film Comment from 2005, Eastwood elaborated on his reputation and basically said it all comes down to having a well-oiled team behind him, dedicating plenty of time to rehearsal, and (reading into his statement) being a bit of a tyrant on set.

“Everyone directs movies differently, but the way I get that is just by doing it,” Eastwood said. “Certain scenes I’ll rehearse if there are technical difficulties [with] lighting and camera. Fortunately, I have a camera crew that’s very well-oiled, so they pretty much know where I’m headed without much explanation. And then, when we get to the point where I’m doing it, no one asks questions when I’m trying to get into the part.”

One star who’s admitted to being a bit intimidated by Eastwood’s ‘my way or the highway’ style of directing is Tom Hanks. While appearing on Graham Norton in 2016, Hanks explained the way Eastwood works and how he treats actors.

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“You certainly don’t want one of those Eastwood looks,” he said. “He treats his actors like horses because when he did the ’60s series Rawhide, the director would shout ‘Action!’ and all the horses bolted. So when he’s in charge, he says in a really quiet, soft voice, ‘All right, go ahead,’ and instead of shouting, ‘Cut!’ he says, ‘That’s enough of that.’ It’s intimidating as hell!”

If you love Eastwood’s work, check out our list of the best Westerns, or if that’s not your style, we have a guide to the greatest thriller movies.