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Clint Eastwood Supporting Roles: 3 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor

Image: Clint Eastwood Supporting Roles: 3 Times Star Shined Without Being Lead Actor
Clint Eastwood, 1961. (CBS/Landov, file)  

By    |   Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 08:50 PM

Clint Eastwood's star power looms large in both Hollywood and the movies in which he has acted. Except for a few roles early on where he had minor, often uncredited roles, Eastwood has been the lead actor.

However, there are three films, all with ensemble casts, where Eastwood took a less-prominent role while still standing out among the cast.

1. Lieutenant Morris Schaffer in "Where Eagles Dare" (1968)

Taking second billing behind Richard Burton, Eastwood portrays Lieutenant Morris Schaffer in "Where Eagles Dare, a World War II movie that tells the story of a daring escape behind enemy lines from a Nazi-held Swiss castle. The movie was directed by Brian G. Hutton and also features Mary Ure, Patrick Wymark, Donald Houston, and Michael Hordern.

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Universally, the film received good reviews, with some noting that Eastwood's character was a good contrast to Burton's Major John Smith.

2. Pardner in "Paint Your Wagon" (1969)

A departure of sorts for Eastwood, "Paint Your Wagon" features an ensemble cast that includes Lee Marvin, Jean Seberg, Harve Presnell, and Ray Walston.

Even though Eastwood is a noted musician, even having won a Grammy Award for the score for "Million Dollar Baby," this is one of the few movies, such as "Honkytonk Man," where viewers also get to hear Eastwood sing.

Eastwood's Pardner sings several numbers in the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical, including "I Still See Elisa" and "I Talk to the Trees."

The movie itself, the story of two gold prospectors married to the same woman, received mixed reviews, including Eastwood's warbling. Vincent Canby of The New York Times did say that Eastwood's performance was "appealing."

3. Chief Red Garnett in "A Perfect World" (1993)

Another movie where Eastwood takes second billing, this time to Kevin Costner, is also one of his stellar directorial efforts. The movie, which also includes Laura Dern and Bradley Whitford in the cast, is the story of a convict (Costner) who kidnaps a boy in Texas a few days before President John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, and the Texas Ranger (Eastwood) assigned to bring him in.

Eastwood is at his best when playing gruff characters and his Chief Red Garnett is all about being gruff. The movie has earned high marks for both acting and direction, and remains one of Eastwood's low-key but best directorial efforts.

As far as the actors, Rolling Stone's Peter Travers said, "In going beyond chase-yarn duty, Eastwood and Costner do themselves proud."

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Clint Eastwood's star power looms large. Except for a few roles early on where he had minor, often uncredited roles, Eastwood has been the lead actor. However, there are three films, all with ensemble casts, where Eastwood took a less prominent role while still standing out among the cast.
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Tuesday, 17 Mar 2015 08:50 PM
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