Clint Eastwood is often viewed more as an icon than an actor.
In Sergio Leone films, he’s the “man with no name,” staring down adversaries with a deadly squint and a malevolent hint of a grin, his craggy face mirroring the rocky landscape of the Spanish countryside where the spaghetti westerns were shot. As Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan, Eastwood explodes on the screen with a kind of laconic intensity, daring crooks and psychopaths to “go ahead, make my day.” And somehow, over the decades, that persona has ripened, with Eastwood allowing moviegoers to see him grow more vulnerable. In later life masterpieces like “Bridges of Madison County” and “Million Dollar Baby,” Eastwood’s still a loner, still tougher than everyone else on the screen, yet willing to show the ravages of time, gruffly holding off the dying of the light. True, he’s no shape-shifter. No Daniel Day-Lewis style chameleon. There’s an inherent “Clint-ness” to all of his performances. But the notes he hits are played with a master’s flare.
Eastwood returns to screens this Friday in “Cry Macho,” still going strong at age 91. Here’s a look back at some of the defining performances of his storied career.