Interview : Alison Eastwood

Alison Eastwood is actress, clothes designer and recent Playboy centerfold. A high-profile life was unavoidable for Alison Eastwood, simply due to the fact that she is the daughter of American movie actor/director/icon Clint Eastwood. Her mother, former swimsuit model Maggie Johnson, and her father separated by the time Eastwood was five. While her father continued to work at a nearly feverish pace after the breakup, the family still maintained close contact. Eastwood has worked with her father three times, the first in the movie Tightrope when she was 12 years old.

In 1999, Eastwood formed her own production company, Purple Rose Productions, and has appeared in such films as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (1997), Just a Little Harmless Sex (1999) and If You Only Knew (2000), Her latest film is the low-budget Poolhall Junkies, in which she co-stars as the rich girlfriend of a pool shark out to prove himself.

In this candid chat with PAUL FISCHER, the beautiful 30-year old talks about her relationship with her dad, her new clothing business and that recent Playboy spread.

Paul Fischer: Was it inevitable, given your lineage, that acting was the profession that you would embark upon, or was it just kind of by accident?

Alison Eastwood: You know, when I was growing up I didn’t originally think that was, something I wanted to do. I had done that one film with my dad, but I wasn’t just raring to be an actress. That wasn’t my life’s dream like so many people, who are in the business, but it just kind of came around that way, you know? I was 18 or 19 and out of high school, and a friend of mine was doing a play, and I came to see a play, and it was actually by going to see him in the play that I kind of got inspired to maybe start doing some theater or taking acting classes.

P.F:Did your father every try to discourage you?

Eastwood: I wouldn’t say discourage. I think he just, you know, I think he made it very clear that he felt that he was really lucky. Obviously, I think he realizes he has talent, but a lot of people have talent and they never make it a sixteenth of where he has made it. I think he felt like kind of lightening struck for him, that he was very lucky. I think he wanted to make it clear that it is not necessarily based on how talented you are, but just sometimes if you get lucky or if you’re at the right place at the right time, or you have that one role that just happens to, you know, something that everyone sees, or something that gets well respected.

P.F:So, you never really sat down with your mother and your father and talked about, hey, I wanna get into the same business as you are, uh, what do you think? Any of that stuff, have you ever had that sort of heart-to-heart talk about?

Eastwood:No, we don’t have that kind of family. My dad wasn’t around a lot when I was growing up and the only time I saw him was on the sets and my parents divorced when I was quite young.

P.F:How does that shape you coming from a divorced family?

Eastwood : I don’t know. I think it probably has more personal affects on you than it does career-oriented affects. But, it definitely is difficult, because, you know, all of a sudden there is kind of this sense of being on your own. I think when you are a family, like even dysfunctional families that have problems like every family do if they are still married and there is still a family unit there is a certain amount of support and a certain amount of feeling that you are all together on the same kind of boat. Then, you know, when they divorce, it is very difficult because all of a sudden, you know, you have to visit one person one place and everyone is kind of separate all of a sudden and you kind of become separated from that kind of closeness and I think that is kind of difficult.

P.F:Why did your father want you to be in Tightrope?

Eastwood: I am not sure why he asked me to do it. I think he found the script and he really liked it, and I think that the ages were right for the characters and I think that he felt it would probably be easier for me at that age to play his daughter in a movie and that’s not a huge stretch. Although, obviously, the characters, he’s a much different person in that character as he is my dad.

P.F:You said that you were young when your parents got divorced and yet you made several movies with your dad. Do you think he felt, and did you feel, that by working with him in movies it brought you closer together and made up maybe for the absences?

Eastwood:I am sure there is some of that. I mean, I think most of the time that I spent with him, my brother and I spent with him, was either on vacations or visiting him at work. So, I am sure that by incorporating my brother, who was in films with him as well, and by incorporating us into his work, I am sure that kind of somehow gave him a feeling that he could spend some quality time with us.

P.F:You recently posed for Playboy. Now, as an actress, is it a calculated thing to lift your profile? Or, why did you do it I guess?

Eastwood: Well, I had been kind of approached by them before informally about doing it, and I was never interested at the time in doing it. So, I did it for several reasons. I started a company about two years ago, my own clothing company, called Eastwood Ranch. They approached me after seeing some press that I had done for the company and asked me if I wanted to do a layout and said that it would be the cover and that I would get to somewhat incorporate my clothes and clothing line you know, like on the cover I am wearing the clothes.

P.F:Even though there are no clothes normally required.

Eastwood:Yes, they said we’ll try and fit your clothes in there somewhere.

P.F:How did they do that?

Eastwood: Well, the cover, I am wearing the jeans and the blouse on the cover. I mean, it’s kind of open and sexy and it looks like the cover of a Maxim or Cosmo.

P.F: that the blouse you’re wearing?

Eastwood:Yeah, my whole outfit is.

P.F: Oh really?

Eastwood:Yeah.

P.F:So, your mother was a little concerned about you being in a movie which contained hookers and such at age 12 I understand… Was she concerned that you are going to be naked in a magazine?

Eastwood:No, you know, I wanted to make sure I asked them if they were okay with it. I guess if they weren’t, then I wouldn’t have done it. And, obviously, I would ask my boyfriend as well,’ cause, you know, I wanted to make sure he was alright with it. You know, they seemed to be fine. My mom was concerned because I was 11 years old, and I was in a movie with some pretty heavy subjects. I am 30 years old and making my own choices as an adult to do whatever I please, and I think my mom and my dad both trust that whatever I would do, would be tasteful and wouldn’t be explicit or pornographic, but somewhat along the lines of artistic and beautiful which I think they turned out that way. There is a little bit of an age difference; you know 30, 11, and they finally said we’ll let her make her own decisions now.

P.F:And, you obviously don’t have concerns about nudity.

Eastwood:No, I don’t, I am very comfortable with myself, I am very comfortable with my body and I am not one of those people that’s really shy. I wouldn’t say I am an extrovert, but I am not a really shy person. I kind of feel like, you’re only gonna look as a woman, pre-children or marriage or pre menopause or whatever you want to call the different milestones of life. You are only going to look and feel a certain way for a certain amount of time, and you know, I turned 30 this last year.

P.F:How was that?

Eastwood:It was fine. You know, sometimes I feel like I’m 87 and other times I feel like I am 23. So, I kind of run the gamut of age.

P.F:So how did your boyfriend react, when the magazine came out?

Eastwood:Well, I think he kinda’ had conflicting feelings. One, I think there are a lot of guys, and he’s a guitar player in a rock band, and I think in some way, he was kind of like, oh wow, my girl’s gonna be on the cover of Playboy. Oh, and then on the other side, oh my god, it’s my girl …

P.F:He wants people to admire you, but even if it’s my girl, I don’t want other guys ogling her.

Eastwood:Right, exactly. There are very conflicting feelings. And then when it came out, he was a little weirded out for about three or four days.

P.F:Is it a famous band that he’s in?

Eastwood:No, they’re a band from Orange County that has been around for a long time. They are kind of famous in their own. They are kind of like a rockabilly, kind of punk band; they are famous in that type of music, but not as far as global –

P.F:Not nationally.

Eastwood:Not nationally.

P.F:What is his name?

Eastwood:His name?

P.F:Yeah.

Eastwood:Michael Comb. No relation to Puff Daddy.

P.F:What’s his band called?

Eastwood:Uh, Cadillac Tramp.

P.F:Where’d you meet him?

Eastwood:We met through a mutual friend. Actually, a girlfriend of mine who I’d known who was dating a singer in a band. We were gonna go see another friend of mine play at The Roxie and then went to go see him play, and we’ve kinda’ been together ever since.

P.F:And how long have you been together?

Eastwood:It’s been about a year and three months I guess.

P.F:Marriage in the works now?

Eastwood:I don’t know; coming from divorced parents, I am not really in a hurry to get married. But I couldn’t see myself getting married. Like I said I am 30. I could see myself getting married somewhere in the next three to seven years, but I am not in a rush.

P.F:What do you think about kids?

Eastwood:Same thing.

P.F:Yeah, because a lot of women as you know, worry about their time clock.

Eastwood:Oh yeah, they’re very very concerned. I am not really so concerned about that, because I think I got pretty good jeans as far as my mom had me when she was 40 and she didn’t, that was in 72 and back then people never had kids when they were 40 or even late 30’s it was pretty unheard of. So, you know, if it happens, it happens. I kind of believe in things that are meant to be. But, I am not gonna; well I have to have a kid now if I don’t want one. I love kids and I love animals and I have a great motherly instinct. It’s just, responsibility-wise, I am not ready. I have a lot of things I want to do. You know, you start your own business, and you are trying to pursue a career and do all these things and you still want to go out and see the world a bit, and you can’t really do that with toddlers attached to your hip. So, I figure there will be a time and a place when that will be right.

P.F:Is it the clothing or the acting that you think is going to occupy most of your professional life at this time? Would you have a preference either way?

Eastwood:That’s a hard question, because right now I am literally just split right down the middle. I am kind of doing, I feel like I have two full time jobs. I took a bit of a hiatus from acting, to just start the business and get it rolling, and now that it is kind of up on its feet, I am actively going out looking for work again and testing on pilots and doing all this stuff. You know, it’s been a hard balancing act. I don’t know which one will be. I kind of have to let time figure out what’s going to happen. Ultimately, I think I am going to gamble a little bit more on the company, on my company, just because as you know, actors and actresses is a fickle business. You know, women after a certain age don’t get hired as much. It doesn’t matter how good they are. It’s difficult, It’s hard to put all your eggs in the acting basket because it’s uh, you know, it’s one of those things where, you know.

P.F:You know, talking to you now. I think your mother is much quieter, but you seem to have a fairly good self-containment, and you seem to be very good within yourself. That’s a certain confidence. Where did you get that from? I mean, even your dad was not Mr. Pat-him-on-the-back character, yet you are very easy and gregarious with people. How did you get that?

Eastwood:I don’t know. It must have fallen from the sky. I have no idea. My mom’s kind of shy and my dad’s you know a man of very few words. You know.

P.F:He is very private.

Eastwood: He is very private, and he doesn’t say a lot. He is not much of a Chatty Kathy I would say, but I don’t know. I have just had kind of a strange upbringing and it’s been kind of a strange life and I have had a lot of experiences happen at a young age that probably most kids had much more sheltered lives.

P.F:What do you mean by that, can you expound on it?

Eastwood: Well, you know, I grew up quite quickly I think. I think, like I said, when you come from a family when your divorced you kind of, all of a sudden, have to deal with much more mature issues, and I think also plus spending time around my dad and having an older brother and all his older friends. Just being around a lot of older people, I kind of even at 13 and 14 was always kind of thought of as, oh, you’re so mature for your age. You’re quite precocious and, I was like this little kind of wild cat, and I just think I kind of had a big growth spurt, and then I think now I am just more settled.

P.F:Has your dad seen this Poolhall Junkies?

Eastwood: No, he hasn’t seen it but I haven’t seen his last movie, Bloodwork. I don’t always get to see his movies. Sometimes I try to go to the premiers when I am in town, but I don’t think he’s seen. He’s seen a few things I’ve done, and I’ve seen almost everything he’s done. There are a few things I haven’t seen.

P.F:You were saying earlier that you kind of wanted to build your acting career. This is a pretty small movie, which may or may not be seen. We don’t know how many people will end up seeing it.

Eastwood:Right.

P.F:Why do you always do that, why were you interested in doing a small independent film?

Eastwood:Uh, I think that I wanted to do this film for several reasons. I mean, first of all, the cast I thought was great. I mean the chance to work with Christopher Walken and Chaz and Ron Steiger and you know, there are a lot of great young actors in it as well. You know, I had worked with a couple of them before. I like independent movies, I like them because they don’t have the luxury of lagging and overindulging and a lot of drawn out. You know, it’s just, you get there, you all know that you’re there, everyone is working on a tight budget. Everyone is working towards something. You go there, you get it done, and I like that pace. I like feeling that you kind of all become this little family. It’s not like some big movie where everyone goes off to their trailers, and never see each other. We all became very close and I like that environment, I like the independent spirit. So, I’ve done a lot of them. I think between the cast and the fact that I just thought it would be a fun little movie.

P.F:Are you a pool player?

Eastwood:I am, I liked pool. I played pool a lot growing up. I grew up with a pool table in the house.

P.F:Give us a quick line on your character, Tara.

Eastwood: Well, I think that even though, unfortunately, the relationship part of the main character and my relationship doesn’t get enough time in the movie to show why we’re together, but I think the important thing is that she is the one kind of character in his life that really knows what she wants. She’s driven, she’s got a job, and she’s going and wants to be a lawyer. She is very much on her path, and she’s pretty regimented, like this is what I am doing and you need to get, you know, your stuff together and figure out what you’re going to do and none of this playing around in pool halls. Figure it out. I think she starts out real kind of rigid and black and white, but I think as you go along in the movie she kind of realizes that he really is good at what he does and that, you know, she kind of ends up letting him just be who he is and doing what he wants to do. It’s kind of one of those great little things in life, you know, where a lot of people who are in relationships always try and make people. You know, you need to do this and I want you to do that or I want you to change that, and people always try and fit these people into their ideas of what they want, and I just liked her because she started off being very rigid and kind of like at the end was like, you know, I’ll stand by my man. No matter what, you gotta be happy, do what you want in life and what you’re good at. So, I think, I liked that kind of part of her character and you kind of get to see her soften a little bit.

P.F:Does having a famous name in the film community open doors?

Eastwood:It’s a plus and a minus. It’s kind of a plus because obviously, people are curious and they want to go ok, we want to meet so and so’s daughter and let’s see if she’s a chip off the old block kind of thing. But, on the other hand, as I was starting to kind of get into acting as an adult on my own and kind of take classes and starting to learn how to audition and really work, it took me a few years to really get a sense of what I was doing. Everyone has to learn in their own time. Growing pains and life lessons, and the only problem is that I can’t get away with having growing pains and life lessons and going in and maybe falling flat on my face or screwing something up or having a bad audition without people remembering it because oh it’s Clint Eastwood’s daughter. You know, there’s no anonymity for me, where as somebody, Sara Brown can walk in and go through all these different things that actors go through to really know their craft and get to know their what they need to do to prepare.

P.F:Did you ever think of not using Eastwood?

Eastwood:I did. I did briefly when I was a teenager, but it wasn’t really so much for acting, it was just because in Carmel where I grew up I was so infamous because I was kind of a wild teenager and driving around like a nut and just carrying on. I didn’t have a terrible amount of structure. My parents were doing their own thing and I think I got turned loose. I turned myself loose a little bit, and I kind of, now I think I am just a rebellious person and I like to have fun and I like to kind of be wild and crazy.

P.F:So, you were rebellious?

Eastwood:Yeah, but not like that. I think the problem is that when you are a teenager you have these feelings of wanting to kind of be your own person and kind of push things to the limit, but you’re around a whole bunch of other people, teenagers that do the same thing and there is no one there to really say, okay, you can take it this far, but be careful; someone to kind of guide you. I just didn’t have a lot of guidance at that point in my life. I just kind of was running wild.

P.F:Did you get into trouble?

Eastwood:Yeah, I got into trouble. I had a few run-ins with the law and spent the night in jail.

P.F:Spent the night in jail?

Eastwood:Yeah, I got arrested for drunk driving.

P.F:Do you think at the age you are now, you’re half-proving yourself?

Eastwood:I’ve never really tried to prove myself. I just try and do the best that I can. I don’t think I am like a great actress. I think I am working towards trying to be better. I am working towards trying to be a good businessperson, a great clothing designer. I mean, you choose what you want to do in life and all you can do is try and be the best, but there is a process somewhere in the middle of that.

P.F:Do you think that posing for Playboy is kind of an act of rebellion?

Eastwood:I don’t really think so. I didn’t really feel that way. Maybe subconsciously, I mean, if you want to get out your Ph.D. and start digging through my brain it could be I guess, but I really did it because I felt like okay, I am 30, I am in great shape, I feel like it’s the prime of my life. I am not always going to look this way and feel this way and also, I really felt it was going to be a great help. Which it has been in a lot of ways to the clothing line. I didn’t really do it because, oh, this is going to help my acting career.

P.F:Would you like to be directed by your father again? Do you think it would it be an interesting experience to go back to that?

Eastwood:Interesting? That’s always a good word. That’s very interesting. No, I don’t know, it depends. When he works with me as a kid, it was obviously kind of you know, very tenderly, and I was a kid. And then, you know, he directed me as an adult and it was like a whole different story.

P.F:How so?

Eastwood:Well, because I wasn’t a kid anymore well I was just playing he gave me a role in this film playing his daughter which is kind of a small little role. This, you know, was kind of a different thing. I had to audition like three or four times. I had to come back in and constantly re-read more material. I mean, he didn’t give me the role and he never called me to say I got it. We went through my agent and everything. He never mentioned it to me at all. I mean he literally, I got the script and as was like apparently your dad wants you to come in for this movie. He thinks you’re right for the role. And, I went in and I did it, and I went on tape three or four different times and went back and did some improvising and my agent called me and said you got it. But then when I showed up it was a different story, because he really wanted to make a point that I was to show up and be professional and be prepared and there was not going to be any favoritism. Like it was going to be anti-favoritism. He was going to be like, I am going to make a point that nobody thinks that I am just, that you’re my kid and I am giving you this job and that I am gonna treat you the same. It was very stressful. The first two weeks were very stressful and very, but then after a few weeks, everyone kind of found their groove and everyone. I think he realized, he felt that I was doing a very good job and was happy with my performance so then it was fine. But the first few weeks were very tense.

P.F:Is there anything else coming up?

Eastwood:I had a couple of things in the can. I had a couple of little movies I did that are in the can.

P.F:Which are?

Eastwood:There is one called Waiting to Live, which is a small movie and it was a movie, god, who is in that? Lee Majors.

P.F:Oh really?

Eastwood:Yeah, I know it’s very funny.

P.F:And what do you play in that?

Eastwood: Um, I play kind of a small role. It was really kind of a favor. This director Joey Travolta, I’d worked with him before, and he asked me if I would come and do. John’s older brother.

P.F:And what’s the other film that you?

Eastwood:The other one I have is called How to Go Out On a Date in Queens.

P.F:Is that also an independent, small movie?

Eastwood:Yeah.

P.F:And how do you go out on a date in Queens?

Eastwood:I don’t actually, I am the one person that doesn’t go on a date. I am kinda’ like the one person who doesn’t play pool in this movie. Um, I don’t get to do any of the fun stuff. No, I play this kind of struggling waitress who ends up kind of helping out the lead character and he’s kind of all messed up.

POOLHALL JUNKIES OPENS IN LIMITED RELEASE THIS FRIDAY.