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HIS OWN MAN - Scott Eastwood

By Brennen Matthews

Photographs by Jesse Natale

Following in the footsteps of a famous father, especially one with as legendary of a Hollywood career as Clint Eastwood, can be daunting. And for Scott Eastwood, who is a spitting image of his father; with the same striking good looks and gunslinger eyes, that journey can be wrought with constant comparisons. However, make no mistake, Scott Eastwood is forging his own path in Hollywood. Talented, grounded and ready to tackle anything that comes his way, Scott has become a full-fledged movie star, with the intense presence and versatility of a solid performer. With several successful films already under his belt, Scott credits his father’s old school style of parenting - if you want something, go and get it yourself, no handouts - to his work ethic and his philosophy on fame and riches: they are a privilege, and not what defines him. It's with that same spirit that Scott, who holds a deep belief in American greatness and exceptionalism, co-founded Made Here, a clothing line that is manufactured in America and supports and celebrates American workers.

Scott recently sat down with ROUTE to share on his unique upbringing, his new movie The Outpost, and so much more.

What was your childhood like?

I was born in California, [but] lived for about seven or eight years in Hawaii, which was pretty cool. I grew up fishing, doing a lot of diving, a lot of surfing, a lot of ocean activities. I had a pretty simple childhood to be honest. I lived with my mom for the first half and we lived between California and Hawaii. When I was young, we spent a lot of time in rural California, like up at my dad’s ranch in Northern California, riding horses and fishing. Same in Hawaii. We had a bunch of acres. We lived on the Big Island of Hawaii, on thirty acres of ranchland [behind] Parker Ranch, which is one of the biggest ranches in Hawaii. Actually, I think one of the biggest ranches in the United States. It was known for Black Angus cattle.

In Hawaii?

Oh yeah, in Hawaii. Most people don’t know that. The Big Island of Hawaii is mostly ranchland. Obviously, there are beaches and stuff, but the majority of the island is very rural. It’s rolling grass hills and ranchland, and for a long time it was one of the biggest cattle ranches in the United States. Then I think it became too expensive to transport meat out of there. But, yeah, we backed up to Parker Ranch. We had cattle on our property all the time. But at the same time, you [could] drive thirty minutes, twenty minutes, down to the beach and be on the coast and be in what we all know as Hawaii. It’s like going back in Hawaii like a hundred years. You’d be four-wheeling down to remote beaches with nobody on them, having bonfires at night, cooking, camping on the beach in the back of a pick-up truck. Really, it’s still kind of the stuff I’m into. That’s where I’m most happy, I think, in the outdoors.

That was kind of how my childhood was, between there and California, and then I lived with my dad through high school. I moved back with my dad in California … I got into a little bit of trouble; every kid does. I sort of straightened out and then decided that I would go to college, but I’d also chase film and try to make a career and try to charge a career in making film.

As a child, did you find that having a famous father led you to be treated differently by your friends and teachers?

I never lived around a lot of famous people growing up because I went to school in Hawaii. Going to middle school in Hawaii was tough in its own regard because I was what’s called a haole, so I was the minority. There wasn’t really any noticing of being a famous person’s son. I was [just] trying to get through being a white boy in Hawaii.

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I lived more of a normal childhood because my dad was pretty old school when I lived with him. There were no real handouts. It wasn’t like that. It was like, ‘Get a job. You want something, go out and get a job and make a career for yourself.’

Growing up, you were interested in cliff diving, hunting, surfing and more intense activities. I know that you also like to do some of your own stunts. Do you think that you’re an adrenaline junkie?

Yeah, I definitely do. I like doing things that make [me] face fear and push past [my] limits. I think that gives you a lot of growth in life. If you’re scared of, let’s call it, big surf, and you’re scared of going out in bigger waves, or you’re scared of diving deep, or you’re scared of jumping out of airplanes, or whatever it is that you’re scared of, if you do it, and you face your fears, you push past that, and it gives you perspective. You’re no longer scared of some virus that comes through. You’re less scared because you’ve faced fear, you’ve faced death a little bit more, I think. I think that people should face their fears more. It pushes them, it makes them grow.

Speaking of fear, does it ever cross your mind when you’re surfing: ‘I wonder what’s below me’?

Yeah, you wonder all the time, for sure. If you spend enough time in the ocean, you’re going to see sharks. I’ve swam with my fair share of sharks, seen sharks, seen great white sharks, seen tiger sharks. Oh yeah. But to be honest, you can’t live life like that. You can’t live life in fear, and that is something I’ve always lived as a mantra. You can’t live life in fear. You obviously don’t want to be stupid and not think things through, but if you live life in fear, you’re going to live a pretty mundane, pretty boring life. You need to take chances. I think you need to get out there.

You started off your career with some small parts in some great films that were all directed by your dad, Clint Eastwood. But for a long time, you went under your birth name of Scott Reeves rather than Eastwood. I read that you really wanted to try to avoid the appearance of nepotism and to just do what you needed to do to grow as an actor and to make it on your own. But your father was the director, wouldn’t he or the casting director have known that it was actually you auditioning?

I was young, I was a young actor. I wanted to fly under the radar a little and see if I could do it and if I could get any roles. It wasn’t really about being in those films with my father, but trying to get some roles on my own, and see if I could do it. Really, to be honest, though, what I realized, and I think that’s why I started to go by the other name, was that it didn’t really matter. You still have to go in the audition room, you still have to win a role, you still have to be good enough to get it. No one’s going to hand it to you. It doesn’t matter what your name is. You have to go in and face the fire and do it, because no one’s going to hand it to you.

In the early days, did you feel any pushback from cast or crew for being Clint Eastwood’s son in any of those movies?

Oh, I’m sure there was. I’m sure there are people and casting directors who said, ‘he’ll never make it, he’s whatever, he’s blah blah blah, he’s just Clint Eastwood’s son.’ There are definitely people who said those things, or probably felt that way. If I’ve learned anything, it’s just to keep your head down and keep going, and if you work hard and you show up and do the job, and you’re good to work with, and good to people, and you work hard and you want something bad enough, you’re going to make it happen whatever business that is, right?

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Is it more difficult to work with family and stay focused and in the scene?

I think anyone who’s ever been in a family business knows it’s hard working with family. You know what I mean? There’s no difference in this business. [It’s] no different.

What’s the best advice you ever received from your father?

Shut up and listen.

Now that you’re a bit older, and you’re starting to really come into your own with your own work in film, do you think that seeing your dad’s experience with fame and celebrity has helped you better prepare for the attention that comes with it for yourself?

Sure. I think that I watched it so much growing up, I watched everyone always wanting something from my father. Wanting his time, wanting something from him. Wanting, wanting, wanting, wanting. Wanting to be around him, wanting all his time. I learned from him that material things: stuff and money, these things are not the driver of him and not what makes him happy. He enjoys telling stories. He enjoys making films. That is what he does and there’s a real craft to it, and to learn that and get good at something is the most important thing, because it gives you self-happiness and self-worth. All the other frivolous bullshit of being famous is garbage.

People who want to be famous, they say that a lot, ‘I want to be famous.’ I don’t want to be famous; I want to get good at something. I want to be useful at something, to master something. If you do that, you’ll be happy. If you master something you love, you’ll be happy. This idea of ‘getting famous’ is a really dangerous idea. I hear a lot of young people and now with the social media—people want to be famous. I think it’s a road to disaster to go down that [path].

Have you ever had fans send you any strange or unusual gifts?

I received a letter a day for one year from a fan. 365 letters.

Every day?

Every day.

Speaking of crazy things, I’ve got two words for you: Bear Grylls.

Bear Grylls! Yeah.

You were over in Bulgaria with him in season four of Running Wild. It was a great episode. What was that experience like? Is it more produced for television or is Bear really that intense?

He’s real. He was the real deal. I mean, he had me rappel off a cliff held by a backpack as a counterweight, you know? There was enough surface tension on the rope … he said it would hold me. I was like, ‘This is insane! You’re not going to let me die, are you?’ He’s like, ‘I hope not.’ He’s the real deal. The guy’s someone you’d want if you were lost in the wilderness or had to go out in the wilderness on your own. You’d want to be with a guy like that.

Were you ever concerned for your safety?

Oh yeah. It’s the real deal. It’s not Hollywood at all. You’re out there in the elements. You’re doing it. You’re responsible to not get hurt and to follow what he says.

So, would you do it again?

Yeah. Fuck yeah. Why not?

Had you ever watched the show before agreeing to take part?

I’d watched a few episodes. I knew what I was getting myself into.

You have a number of projects that you are currently working on. Anything that you want to share?

I’ve got a few things going. I’ve got a couple of different TV shows in development. I’ve got a show with Jamie Foxx in development. I have a movie with Nick Cassavetes that we are probably going to make as soon as everyone can get back to work after all this nonsense.

You went back to Bulgaria for your new war film The Outpost.

I randomly went back to Bulgaria. Yeah, man, it was crazy. I didn’t think I’d be back in Bulgaria after [Bear Grylls] but then they said, ‘hey, we’ve gotta shoot in Bulgaria,’ and I signed onto it and went back.

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What drew you to this picture?

One, that it was a true story. I love true stories. True stories like this are amazing, you know? When a true story comes your way, you’ve got to take a hard look at it, especially something like this with all of the decorated soldiers that were there that day. Not just the characters, not just the Medal of Honor winners like Clint Romesha who I played, but everyone who was there that day. Really, the story is about everyday people under extraordinary circumstances, overcoming odds that seemed insurmountable at the time. They’re everyday heroes. That’s what was so interesting about this; we put people in these situations, and how they acted, they’re all real heroes.

Did any of the main cast get to meet any of the people that they were representing?

Daniel Rodriguez, who was there that day, played himself in the film. We had Hank Williams, who was there six months prior to [the attack] at that outpost in Kamdesh, who was there and was part of it. We had a lot of different people working on it. Ty Carter was one of the advisors to the film. We had a lot of people who were there, and that’s always super helpful in a story like this.

Growing up did you and your family do many road trips?

Yeah. We have a ranch in Northern California where I spent a lot of time going to as a kid, and in my teens. I’d go up there with my dad. When I was fifteen, or fourteen, I did a road trip more or less across America. I think we drove all the way to Missouri through the Rockies, to the Lake of the Ozarks, to the Grand Canyon, to the South. I saw all of these national parks and all these great places. Even in my early adult life, when I was in college, I would go. I would just go. I drove to Texas, went down to Austin. My buddy was going to school down there, so I went down there to go party with him and hang out, and I fell in love with Austin. That’s why I live in Texas now.

Did you ever get on Route 66 in any of your trips?

Oh yeah. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve been on Route 66 for sure.

What are your favorite parts?

I think probably the long stretches through Arizona. The desert, right? That really stands out, how beautiful sunsets and sunrises are there beyond those open roads. It’s pretty amazing. The sky looks endless when you’re out there.

Have you ever been up in the Panhandle of Texas? Route 66 runs through the Panhandle.

I’ve never been to the Panhandle, the only part of the route I’ve been on is through Arizona and California. I’ve only bumped back down and gone the lower route through El Paso and sort of the center of Texas on the way to Austin.

Did you ever pop over to Marfa?

I have.

Are you more of a big city or a small-town guy?

I’m not a big city guy. I like enough city where you can get into it, you can be close enough to it … that you can have a nice dinner, go out, see a show, go see a concert, but I like space. I like open space. That’s what I’ve really learned about myself. I’m not a city guy. I don’t want to be in the concrete jungle. That’s why I moved away from L.A. many years ago. I couldn’t deal. I just don’t like being in traffic every day, I don’t like being in that mentality. There’s a certain city mentality, like a ‘I don’t really care about my neighbor’s mentality, ‘I only care about myself.’ It’s sort of the fast-paced-ness of the city. Whereas, when you live a little more rural and you live more on the land, I feel like people care more about their neighbors.

What project of yours are you most proud of?

You know, there’s a lot that I’ve been proud of in different ways. That’s a really hard question to distill down to one answer. I have great friendships that I’ve formed with great people, great life experiences. Some films have turned out better than others, but to be honest, it’s about the experience. The audience only gets to see the finished product … the bulk of the energy that goes into making film. You go somewhere for two or three, four months, you’re spending time with those people. Are you getting along? Are you having a creative thing that you’re proud of? Are you having fun? Are you getting to see a new part of the world? I’ve been super lucky.

As you get older and dive deeper into projects that matter to you, what do you want Scott Eastwood's legacy to be?

I want it to be about friendship and family and good times; lots of laughs.

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