Saturday 24 February 2018

Kyle Eastwood: I almost changed my name from Eastwood

Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds

Deirdre Reynolds speaks to Kyle Eastwood -- son of Clint -- as his band visits Ireland

With his familiar looks and famous last name, there's no mistaking Kyle Eastwood's Hollywood lineage.

But the acclaimed jazz musician, who's Clint Eastwood's eldest son, admits how he considered changing his surname to step out of his iconic dad's shadow.

"Changing my name did cross my mind when I went to university," he told the Irish Independent. "But I figured that people would find out anyway -- and I'd be stuck with some other last name!

"Now I'm proud to be an Eastwood."

Movie composer Eastwood (44) is among the special guests appearing at the inaugural John Ford Ireland Film Symposium in Dublin this weekend.

And the festival programme also includes a 20th anniversary screening of his director dad's own seminal western Unforgiven.

"It was around that time that I started doing recording sessions for film scores," recalls Kyle, whose mother is Eastwood's ex-wife Maggie Johnson. "I played in the orchestra [on Unforgiven] and remember visiting my dad on the set in Canada -- it doesn't seem like 20 years ago."

In fact, it's now three decades since the father and son first appeared together on the big screen in Honkytonk Man.

Since then, they've worked together behind the scenes on eight movies including Mystic River and Gran Torino -- with Oscar- winner Clint at the helm and his son helping to give his film scores their distinctive blues bassline.

"When I was a teenager, I always thought I wanted to follow my dad into acting and directing," says Kyle, himself a dad of one. "After about a year of studying film at university, though, I ended up veering off in the music direction -- and have been doing that ever since.

"Although I had fun filming Honkytonk Man, I wasn't so much bitten by the acting bug.

"But it's great to still be involved with filmmaking through music.

"Both my parents play the piano and my maternal grandmother was a voice coach -- so growing up, there was always a lot of music around the house and records being played.

"Me and my father would play the piano and go to concerts together.

"I really enjoy working with him," he adds. "I've grown up watching him work and we have similar tastes, so we have a really good working relationship. He's pretty easy to work with."

And having Dirty Harry as a dad wasn't as exciting as people might imagine, he jokes.

"Off camera, he's just a normal, soft-spoken guy," says Kyle -- who has one sister, director Alison Eastwood, and five half-siblings.

"Lucky for me, I didn't really grow up around Hollywood too much.

"When I was one-and-a-half, we moved up to Carmel, Monterey -- a small town about a six-hour drive north of Los Angeles.

"It was as normal a childhood as you could have."

Although he still pops up as an extra in his old man's movies from time to time, for now Kyle says he's happy to be the less famous Eastwood.

"I was in J. Edgar but it's sort of 'blink-and-you'll miss it'," laughs Kyle, who performs with his band at The Button Factory in Dublin's Temple Bar tomorrow night.

"Growing up with my father, that loss of your privacy and [paparazzi] following you around was definitely something I was aware of from a very young age.

"It's nice to be able to be anonymous.

"Unfortunately, my dad couldn't make it to Ireland this weekend," he adds. "He's just turned 82 and finished making a new film.

"I'm sure he'd love to come to over sometime -- he loves a good pint."


Irish Independent

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