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The New Icons

Mr Scott Eastwood

Why this son of a gunslinger is hell-bent on casting his own shadow

What’s in a name? Try asking Mr Scott Eastwood. Until about five years ago, he was quietly making his way in the movie business under the unassuming title of Mr Scott Reeves. Nobody, save for his family and friends, was aware of who his father was. And that was just the way he liked it. “I knew I had to do things on my own terms for a while,” explains the 28 year old from his home in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, a southern California seaside town north of San Diego. “I’ve been brought up to understand that you’ve gotta make your own way in life. My dad… he isn’t the kinda guy to give hand-outs. He’s old-school like that; anybody who knows him will tell you.”

For those who haven’t already made the connection, his dad is none other than that silver-screen legend, cultural icon and paragon of masculinity, Mr Clint Eastwood: a man with four Oscars and more than 50 movies under his belt, who at the ripe old age of 84 is still receiving major award nominations and breaking box-office records, most recently with American Sniper, his most financially successful film to date. You start to understand why Mr Eastwood Jr felt the need to forge his own path. His dad’s Dirty Harry Callahan, after all… those are some mighty big boots to fill.

But despite the planet-sized expectations saddled upon him by that famous surname, Eastwood the younger is certainly making his way. He recently appeared in the WWII tank movie, Fury, with Messrs Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf. During filming he found himself on the receiving end of some serious Method acting from his co-stars after he spit tobacco juice on the back of the tank. “No room for sissies on that set,” he laughs. This year sees him taking his place on the certifiable hunk-launching pad that is The Longest Ride, a movie adaptation of a love story penned by the prolific author Mr Nicholas Sparks, whose previous books include The Notebook. As the big-screen adaptation of that did for Mr Ryan Gosling, so may The Longest Ride do for Mr Eastwood. He’s also managing a bulging portfolio of modelling contracts on the side, and has recently been named as the face of Davidoff Cool Water, a spot that belonged, until recently, to Mr Paul Walker, the late epic hero of The Fast and the Furious saga.

None of this was necessarily in the script for the son of Ms Jacelyn Reeves, a flight attendant with whom Mr Clint Eastwood had two children in the 1980s. As Mr Scott Eastwood tells it, his father was a constant presence – “I can’t remember a time that he wasn’t around” – but his youth, which was spent between Hawaii and the West Coast, couldn’t be further from what you’d expect of a spoilt scion of Hollywood royalty (Cardiff-by-the-Sea is hardly known as a party zip code frequented by Tinseltown brats). “It was weekend jobs, hitting dive bars, surfing and fishing with the boys,” he says. As he reasserts throughout the course of our interview, he never sought out the limelight. Smart move: fame, especially of the inherited kind, can be a double-edged sword.

So why, then, did he eventually decide to change his last name? “Family has always been important to all of us,” he says, referring to the larger Eastwood clan. “I guess it was just time.” While that might be true, we’re hazarding a guess that it also had something to do with the striking physical resemblance that was beginning to manifest itself in his features. I mean, just look at the guy. He’s the spitting image of his old man. The famous jawline, the furrowed brow, the clenched-jaw smile: it’s all there. The only thing that’s missing is the cigar.

Step forward Town & Country magazine, who captured him for their September 2013 issue with a cigar clenched between his teeth in a clear nod to his father’s most iconic (and laconic) on-screen character, The Man with No Name. Something about it must have struck a chord because the piece went viral, racking up more than five million hits in a week. The then 27 year old suddenly found himself the subject of a huge amount of media attention, and it wasn’t long before he was anointed an “eligible bachelor”, attained “heart-throb status’’ and all the rest that goes with it.

This sudden surge in popularity didn’t do his career any harm, but still… playing the “Eastwood” card must have been difficult for a guy who so clearly wants to make his own way in the movie industry. Sure, he’s open about the fact that his first, tentative steps came courtesy of a little parental help – he made his debut with a small part in 2006’s Flags of Our Fathers, directed by his dad, and went on to appear in Gran Torino and Invictus – but any suggestion that he received preferential treatment beyond that is shot down with venom. “I am making it by myself,” he snaps at one point. None of which is to suggest that he isn’t happy to discuss his family. Quite the contrary: it’s here that he speaks with most fluency and candour. And as for his father, he genuinely seems as in awe of him as the rest of us are. “He’s my hero,” he says. “I just wanna continue his good name.”

All of which brings us, in a roundabout fashion, back to our original question: what’s in a name? Fame? Family? A legacy? If the name happens to be Eastwood, then all of the above. But as the heir to that name is just starting to find out, it’s what you make of it that counts.