Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Invictus" spurs Eastwood to ninth decade

Even approaching age 80 (on May 31) Clint Eastwood continues to grow as a filmmaker and, apparently, as a person, too.
Although the twice Oscar-winning director did not talk to many members of the print press about "Invictus," his stirring tribute to a pivotal moment in the presidency of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, producing partner Rob Lorenz did tell me why the former "Man with No Name" in those famous spaghetti westerns showed such a keen interest in making the film.
"Morgan Freeman (who plays Mandela) called (Clint) up and told him he had this great script; we both read it; and it was just so different than everything else that we had been getting," Lorenz explained. "It's just so powerful that both of us said, 'How can we not make this movie?'
"It's just a good, thoughtful, inspiring movie that we both wanted to make. With all the projects Clint chooses from these days, he's looking for things that he can learn something from or, better yet, that he can grow from."
Even though "Invictus" details how a grand leader such as Mandela can inspire real leadership in so-called regular people, it's easy to believe that Eastwood has learned his own lessons about assembling a team simply by letting them lead the way to bigger and better things.
Certainly, the folks on his moviemaking sets have picked up a few pointers from their boss over the years, as "Invictus" co-star Matt Damon discovered.
"Clint simply has this top-flight crew," begins Damon, who plays rugby star Francois Pienaar in Eastwood's spirited film. "And that includes every key and every person working under that key for every department.
"If you need something, it's given to you. If a key of a department says, 'I need that,' or 'I'd like a jib arm for this or a techno-crane,' it shows up," Damon adds. "It's just a very easy thing. Under Clint's real leadership,we've been entrusted to do our jobs."

Already, of course, "Invictus" is picking up some very early steam for awards season. The National Board of Review has named Eastwood the year's best director and Freeman, who tied for the honor with George Clooney ("Up in the Air"), its best actor.
Naturally, that inspired a quip from Damon about his old pal Clooney: "Obviously, I just think it's scandalous that Morgan has to share that NBR thing with George."
Look for more from Damon and Morgan Freeman right now at Sun News, where you'll also find my reviews of "Invictus" and "The Damned United," which keys on another game, the sport of soccer -- the English way.

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