Academy award-winning actor and director, Clint Eastwood has both starred in and directed many war movies, but has he spent time in the military himself?
Clint Eastwood has indeed spent time in the military. He was drafted into the army in 1951 for the Korean War. Could this experience have led him to star in and direct some of Hollywood’s most prolific war movies?
Read more below about Eastwood’s time in the military and his career following his stint in the army.
Eastwood’s War Without Combat
Clint Eastwood, one of Hollywood’s longest serving actors and directors, spent time in the U.S military before embarking on a career in film.
Drafted into the army in 1951 for the Korean War, Eastwood served at the Fort Ord base in California.
Spending his time in the army as a swim instructor and later a lifeguard, Eastwood was not seconded on a combat mission himself.
Although, working and living with other army personnel must have surely given Eastwood an insight into warfare that would influence the war films in which he would later star and direct.
However, Eastwood’s time in the military wasn’t completely without drama, in 1951 a Douglas AD-1Q dive bomber plane he was travelling in crashed into the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Francisco.
Both the pilot, Lt Francis Coleman Anderson and Eastwood himself escaped the crash uninjured and swam ashore to safety.
Watch Clint Eastwood visit U.S troops at Camp Pendleton on YouTube here:
Connections In High Places
According to Eastwood’s official biography, it was fellow soldier, Chuck Hill who had contacts in Hollywood that introduced him to Universal director, Arthur Lubin.
Lubin was impressed by Eastwood’s good looks, remarking that he was “so tall and slim and very handsome looking”. However, after setting up the aspiring actor’s first audition he was thoroughly unimpressed with his performance: “He was quite amateurish. He didn’t know which way to turn or which way to go or do anything”.
Nevertheless, Lubin continued to support Eastwood’s foray into acting and eventually signed him to Universal Studios where the actor attempted to hone his craft.
Eastwood remained a jobbing actor throughout the fifties until he landed a role in the TV series, ‘Rawhide’ which truly put him on the world’s radar.
Portraying War Cinematically
Following the success of ‘Rawhide’, Eastwood’s career soared, landing roles in blockbuster movies such as ‘The Man with No Name’ and all five ‘Dirty Harry’ movies.
In 1986, Eastwood produced, directed and starred in the war film, ‘Heartbreak Ridge’. The film is based on a Korean War veteran, the same war in which Eastwood himself was drafted.
With an obvious personal interest in the film, Eastwood attempted to persuade an Army general to lend his support and base to the filming of ‘Heartbreak Ridge’. However, the U.S Army eventually retracted their support due to discrepancies in the storyline.
Eastwood would go on to direct several further war films, most recently; ‘American Sniper’ (2014) nominated for six academy awards.
‘American Sniper’ is a biopic, loosely based on the true life events of the deadliest sniper in U.S military history, Chris Kyle.
Speaking of the movie at the Loyola Marymount University School of Film & TV in Los Angeles, Eastwood said: “I think it’s nice for veterans, because it shows what they go through, and that life – and the wives and families of veterans. It has a great indication of the stresses they are under. And I think that all adds up to kind of an anti-war [message].”
It’s clear from this statement that Eastwood’s time in the military did not glorify his view on war but instead led him to create films that reflect the true impact war has on those who experience it.