What is the Eastwood Rule?

Don't Mess With Clint

Because of the Eastwood Rule, it's now harder for filmmakers and actors to fire directors, even if there are "creative differences."
Because of the Eastwood Rule, it's now harder for filmmakers and actors to fire directors, even if there are "creative differences."
© TASS/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis

As you may have guessed, the Eastwood Rule is named for legendary actor and director Clint Eastwood. But the use of his name isn't a tribute -- if anything, it's a dig at Eastwood and his refusal to let anything get in the way of his vision as he films a movie.

In 1976, during the filming of "The Outlaw Josey Wales," Eastwood grew increasingly frustrated with director Philip Kaufman's slow, methodical style and unwavering desire to create the perfect shot, no matter how much time it took. Shortly after filming began, Eastwood used his star power to have Kaufman kicked off of the project. After he convinced producers to send Kaufman packing, Eastwood took over the director's chair for the remainder of the project.

The problem was that Kaufman -- who went on to direct "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Unbearable Lightness of Being" -- had not only put a great deal of work into pre-production and filming but also co-wrote the script for the movie. The Directors Guild fought hard for Kaufman's reinstatement, but Eastwood refused to budge. Determined to prevent other directors from suffering a similar fate, the Guild beefed up penalties for letting go of a director once he'd been hired, and the Eastwood Rule was born.

Ironically, Eastwood's actions would come back to spite him. When writer and director Richard Tuggle failed to meet Eastwood's expectations during work on the movie "Tightrope" in 1984, the Eastwood Rule prevented him from having Tuggle removed from the project. Eastwood did take over many of the directing duties for the project, but Tuggle still got the title and stayed involved with the movie till the bitter end [source: Denby].

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  • Avery, Kevin. "Conversations With Clint: Paul Nelson's Lost Interviews With Clint Eastwood." Continuum International Publishing Group. 2011.
  • Barra, Allen. "As a Director, I've Never Had Star Power." The Wall Street Journal. May 22, 2012. (Aug. 22, 2014) http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304019404577418600585837454
  • Denby, David. "Out of the West." The New Yorker. March 8, 2010. (Aug. 22, 2014) http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/03/08/out-of-the-west-6?currentPage=all
  • Directors Guild of America. "Basic Agreement." 2011. (Aug. 22, 2014) http://www.dga.org/Contracts/~/link.aspx?_id=7D5BFF125CE044E6B049F7E2B1A4FD70&_z=z
  • Kapsis, Robert E. and Kathie Coblentz. "Clint Eastwood: Interviews, Revised and Updated." University Press of Mississippi. 2013.
  • McGilligan, Patrick. "Clint: The Life and Legend." St. Martin's Press. 1999.