Clint’s son Scott bursts out of the chute in The Longest Ride, the new rodeo romance movie based on the Nicholas Sparks bestseller.
Like father, like son? Maybe. Scott Eastwood, the impossibly hunky offspring of Hollywood icon Clint Eastwood, has already borrowed a few pages from his father’s playbook while building the foundation for his own acting career.
Much like Clint, who made fleeting appearances in Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula during his salad days as a contract player, Scott paid his dues in the horror genre with a standout supporting role in Texas Chainsaw 3D (2013). Also like his father, who rode tall on prime time for several seasons in Rawhide, Scott gained invaluable experience as a TV actor during a short run on NBC’s Chicago Fire.
Now the 28-year-old actor-model is kinda-sorta carrying on the family business by getting his cowboy on. In The Longest Ride, a forthcoming 20th Century Fox release, he stars as Luke Collins, a former bull rider torn between mounting a comeback on the Professional Bull Riders circuit and pursuing a romance with a city-bred college girl, Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson of TV’s Under the Dome).
Based on the bestselling novel by Nicholas Sparks (The Notebook) and directed by George Tillman Jr. (Men of Honor, Soul Food), the romantic drama entwines the story of Luke and Sophia with that of Ira Levinson (Alan Alda of M*A*S*H fame), a much older man haunted by the memory of his late, much-beloved wife. Chief among the movie’s supporting players: Jack Huston — grandson of legendary filmmaker John Huston, nephew of Oscar winner Anjelica Huston — who plays Ira in flashbacks; and Oona Chaplin — daughter of actress Geraldine Chaplin, granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin — as Ira’s spouse, Ruth. If you count Alan Alda — son of character actor Robert Alda — Scott Eastwood is actually one of four cast members with impressive pedigrees.
The eldest of two children Clint Eastwood fathered with Jacelyn Allen Reeves, a former flight attendant, Scott spent much of his childhood in Hawaii with his sister, Kathryn, and their mother. From an early age, however, he saw a lot of his dad. As he told the Chicago Sun-Times, “If I wasn’t in school, I was on his sets as a kid. ... I had to earn my keep, which was good. It was quite an education. You don’t want to just be ‘the son.’ You want to be part of the team.”
Not surprisingly, young Scott developed a hankering to follow in Clint’s footsteps. He eventually landed small parts in four of his father’s movies: Flags of Our Fathers (2006), Gran Torino (2008),Invictus (2009), and Trouble With the Curve (2012). But he insists that he has never exploited the shortcut of nepotism while blazing a trail for his own success as an actor.
“Years ago,” Scott says, “I realized the important thing is, if you keep working hard and you keep being a good guy and showing up on time, you keep getting work. That’s the way it works. If you’re a [bleep] and you’re not reliable and you don’t work hard, then you don’t get work. It’s as simple as that.
“You do the same at any job in life. If you’re reliable and you show up and you’re good at what you do and you work hard and you’re respectful, you work,” Scott continues. “If you don’t, then you don’t.”
He must be doing something right: Even before The Longest Ride opens April 10 in theaters and at drive-ins everywhere, Scott has continued to add credits to his résumé. He recently grabbed attention for his strong supporting performance opposite Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf in the World War II action drama Fury. (Writing for The Huffington Post, Carole Mallory singled Scott out in the “terrific” ensemble cast, emphasizing that “he is not just another handsome face.”) Later this year, he will be seen alongside Walton Goggins, Adam Beach, and Danny Glover in Diablo, a period psychological thriller directed by Lawrence Roeck (with whom Scott previously worked on the 2012 indie drama The Forger), in which he stars as a troubled Civil War veteran forced to search for his kidnapped wife.
Scott also has a few other projects in various stages of development, and not all of them involve emoting in front of cameras. (Or even posing for the camera, as he did as a model for Abercrombie & Fitch.) He’s close to earning his license as a helicopter pilot — “But I don’t have a copter on the front lawn yet,” he jokes — and he hopes to soon announce marketing plans for Eastwood Whiskey, a product “we’ve been working on for several years.” Once it’s ready, you can be sure the spirit will be available at the Saddle Bar, the Solana Beach, California, watering hole in which he’s an investor.
“I’ve got a few other things coming up,” Scott promises in a playful tone, “but I’ll leave it at that. Can’t give away all the cards in the deck.”
When we caught up with him a few hours after his Cowboys & Indians cover photo shoot, as he unwound with a few friends on a balmy evening in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, Scott Eastwood came across as affable and unpretentious, open to talking about his famous father but eager to discuss The Longest Ride. When he self-deprecatingly noted that he required a “crash course” in bull riding before production of the film began, that seemed like a good place to start the conversation in earnest.
Cowboys & Indians: So just how does one take a crash course in bull riding?
Scott Eastwood: You just drive up to Moorpark [California] and meet a guy named Troy Brown. He’s one of the stock contractors in the PBR, and he knows everyone. And then you just start getting on the back of bulls in the chute and hanging with the boys. I grew up [going to] the Salinas rodeo in California, so it was really nice to be a part of it — because PBR is something I’ve watched and enjoyed and really like.
C&I: Did you ever get hurt while you were in training?
Scott: Oh, no. I mean, small little injuries, cuts and bruises. But nothing major. Not like the guys in the PBR. They get hurt all the time.
C&I: You’re said to be quite a surfer. What would you say is more challenging or more dangerous, bull riding or surfing?
Scott: More dangerous? Bull riding, hands down. But more challenging? Well, it’s probably harder to get good at big-wave surfing. But bull riding is definitely more dangerous.
C&I: Do you think you’re ready for the PBR circuit now that you’ve been on the back of a bull?
Scott: No. Not even close. I have the ultimate respect for these guys. They’re the last real American cowboys. The last real cowboys in the world.
C&I: When you got out of high school, you worked at a number of different jobs: construction worker, carpenter, valet parking attendant, bartender, etc. Which job do you remember the least fondly out of all of them?
Scott: Oh, I don’t really look at them like that. They all shaped who I am as an individual. They all made me realize that I’d better figure out how to do this acting thing because that could be more challenging, or at least more engaging, than some of those things. But they’re all great occupations, and I have respect for all of them.
C&I: Which one do you think you could seriously make a living at right now if the acting thing didn’t work out?
Scott: [Laughs.] If I didn’t do acting, I’d want to be a firefighter.
C&I: Do you remember how old you were when it finally dawned on you just what your father did for a living?
Scott: Well, I remember being a kid and being on the set of Space Cowboys  and thinking how big it was. And then seeing the movie after it was made and really realizing he makes movies that are entertainment for people. And I thought how cool that was.
C&I: But that wasn’t the first movie of his you’d ever seen, right?
Scott: Oh, no. I used to see all his movies while I was growing up. But this was the one I really remembered.
C&I: Did your father ever attempt to dissuade you from going into acting? Or warn you that it could be a tough business?
Scott: I think he wanted me to experience some other things. He wanted me to go to college, and he wanted me to learn some other professions and some skills. But he also said, “You know, I don’t really care what you do. Just do it to be the best at it. Do whatever you want to do.”
C&I: Patrick Wayne tells the story about how his famous dad was, ahem, disappointed by the way he was riding his horse in a movie they were making together. And how The Duke demanded that he shape up and ride right real quick. Did you ever displease your father while working on movies with him?
Scott: [Laughs.] No, not to my knowledge. He’s a tough, tough, tough guy. He’s old-school in his mentality, so if you piss him off he’ll let you know. But, no, I think I was really respectful and worked my ass off and shut up and tried to learn as best I could.
C&I: Are you as avid a golfer as your father?
Scott: Yeah, I like golf. I also dive and fish. I’ve got a lot of hobbies. I’ve got a lot of friends from a lot of different areas, so we do a lot of different stuff.
C&I: What’s your favorite way to spend your time when you’re between acting gigs? Like, if you had a free month or so ...
Scott: I’d be flying. I’d be traveling around the world. I’d be surfing, I’d be diving, I’d be fishing, I’d be going to jiujitsu events. I’d be doing it all. See, I don’t like to sit still for very long. I like to keep going.
C&I: How much of your personality do you think has been shaped by your father? And how much by your mother?
Scott: Oh, it’s 50-50, you know? From my dad, I got a no-bullshit attitude: Go out there, work hard. The world’s what you make it. If you want something, you’ve got to go and get it, and people get what they want. So if you go out and you work hard, you’ll get it. If you want it bad enough, you’ll get it.
C&I: And from your mom?
Scott: She’s more of the soft side. She told me to be honest and to be caring and sensitive. And not be so selfish.
C&I: Did she ever try to talk you out of pursuing a career as an actor?
Scott: No, not at all. My mom wanted me to do whatever I wanted. But my mom’s a smart lady. She wanted me to go to college, too, and learn something. So I went to Loyola Marymount, where I got a degree in communications.
C&I: Let’s talk a little about Luke Collins, the character you play in “The Longest Ride.” What’s your take on the guy?
Scott: Luke Collins is a cowboy. He grew up bull riding, and that’s about all he does. He is a hard worker. He’s loyal, he’s honest. And then he falls in love with this girl, and it sort of spins his world out of control. As love tends to do.
C&I: What would you say you and Luke have in common?
Scott: He says it like it is. Doesn’t beat around the bush. And he’s a hard worker, and honest.
C&I: Actors often talk about the process of learning how to trust a director. What did George Tillman Jr. do to earn your trust while making “The Longest Ride”?
Scott: George is so great he commands a lot of trust. He’s got the talent, everyone knows that. He’s made some great movies. He was just a really easygoing guy — and he brought his edge to [the film]. He took a genre that’s usually done a certain way and he put his footprints on it, which was great. He gave it some real grit that he thought it needed.
C&I: Looks like you’ll be back in the saddle for your next movie, “Diablo.” What’s the scoop on that one?
Scott: It’s sort of a psychological thriller. It’s an interesting take on a western. In fact, it’s not quite a western. It’s more of a period piece.
C&I: What attracted you to that project?
Scott: I was a part of the development of it through the years, through the script. Friends were trying to get it made, and we got it to a place that I thought was really interesting, and we got a great cast together. All the elements had to be there to make me do the project.
C&I: Sounds like you might also be following in your father’s footsteps in terms of producing and directing.
Scott: I don’t know about that. I just take it day by day. But producing, I think, is something I’m doing more and more. Maybe directing is the next project after that.
C&I: Do you think you’d ever be able to direct yourself in a film?
Scott: Well, once again, maybe down the road. Ask me in 10 years.
C&I: Do you think of yourself as someone who has a 10-year plan for the future?
Scott: No. I just keep moving day by day. And if I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I keep doing it. If I’m not, then I make a change.
C&I: Do you have a sense that after “The Longest Ride” hits theaters, your career likely will move to another level?
Scott: I try not to think of anything like that. I just try to keep working hard and keep fighting for good films and good projects that I want to be a part of, or developing good projects that I want to be a part of. You can do a great movie and you can get excited about it, but then it’s around for just a second, and then it goes away. So, you can’t really think about it like, Oh, after this movie, it’s going to be great. I always try to steer young actors away from doing that because you’ve just got to keep working hard and fighting for the good stuff.
C&I: What are some of the lessons you’ve learned about your craft recently while working on “Fury” and “The Longest Ride”?
Scott: Every experience in moviemaking is a learning experience. If you’re not learning, then you’re not growing. So I always try to learn everything I can. A lot of people don’t understand that, sometimes, you do a movie and maybe it doesn’t turn out to be the best movie in the world, but I had a great time doing it, or at least a life experience doing it. So, for me it’s fun. Every experience is a learning experience. No matter how good, bad, or ugly. It’s all learning through all life.
C&I: Since you mentioned “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” — sort of — I have to ask: Is that one of your favorite movies featuring your father?
Scott: Yeah, that’s a good one. That and Unforgiven. And The Outlaw Josey Wales.
C&I: What are some of your other favorite westerns?
Scott: Those are them. [Laughs.] I’m a Clint Eastwood fan, myself.