Clint Eastwood, Jessica Chastain Have Near Encounter on NBR Red Carpet

Jessica Chastain on the National Board of Review Red Carpet | Paula Schwartz Photo
Jessica Chastain on the National Board of Review Awards Red Carpet | Paula Schwartz Photo

At the National Board of Review (NBR) Awards gala last week, Clint Eastwood and Morten Tyldum were honored for “American Sniper” and “The Imitation Game,” respectively. (Both men and their films were snubbed last weekend at the Golden Globes, but the NBR was before all that.)

But in the roller coaster that is awards season, both men received good news Tuesday from the Directors Guild of America, who celebrated them and their films for directorial achievement. The other directors who made the cut are Wes Anderson (“Grand Budapest Hotel”), Alejandro G. Inarritu (“Birdman) and Richard Linklater (“Boyhood”).

But back to the red carpet at the NBR where I had brief encounters – along with other screaming journalists – with the aforementioned directors.

Before that, the ethereal Jessica Chastain, who is as smart as she is celestial, glided by. A reporter asked her about Russell Crowe’s comment that there were plenty of roles for women over 40, if they would just act their age.

“I think there are some incredible actresses in their 50’s and 60’s that are not getting opportunities in films, and for someone to say there are plenty of roles for women that age is not correct,” said Ms. Chastain, much more diplomatically than I would have.

A reporter who had a previous encounter with her on the red carpet, where she told him she got star struck, asked if she still had that problem. That has not changed, she said. A friend emailed her that Clint Eastwood was going to be at the NBR and she should go over to him and say hello. “That’s great, but I’m way too shy to just walk up to Clint Eastwood and say ‘How you doin’?’”

Chastain was then rushed in by her publicist before a fashion photographer was able to get a shot and they pleaded balefully, “Just a shot, please Jessica, please, please, please, please.”

The director of “The Imitation Game,” who is Norwegian and very blonde, told me he took great pains to ensure the film, which is about World War II code breaker Alan Turing, was historically accurate.

“It’s always a challenge, especially since there’s no way you can win. You have two hours to tell it so you have to compress it,” he said. “We all took it very seriously, and every particular of this story that happened is true, but you have to leave out some people.”

He added that a priority was to portray Turing as how it must have been for him as an outsider. “He was somebody who didn’t fit in. How important it is to have these people who come with new, original ideas!”

Handsome Allen Leech then walked by. He portrays a code breaker in “The Imitation Game,” but is most famous for portraying Tom in “Downton Abbey.” There was the inevitable question by a journalist about whether his character would find love again. “I’d like to see Tom do that,” Leech said. “It would be hard to see him do it in the abbey. That’s all I’m going to say.” Then of course, he made his graceful exit before any spoilers.

If Jessica Chastain had only stuck around for that fashion photo op, she might have run into Clint Eastwood, who was brought over to our end zone on the line by his kindly publicist.

Someone referenced Russell Crowe’s comment about actresses over 40 and asked Mr. Eastwood whether there were good roles for mature women.

“Yeah, I think so,” he replied, although over the screaming he may have heard only part of the question. “I think the best actresses around are over 45, but you never know. I’m always looking for good roles. I’m over 40 myself. I know you don’t believe that,” he chuckled.

Then a journalist asked the 84-year-old recently-divorced actor, “Do you think you’ll ever get married again?”

Personal questions are off bounds, as everyone knows on the red carpet. It looked like the publicist – and I don’t blame her – was about to lead him away. “Don’t make me regret this,” she told the reporter.

But Mr. Eastwood is a great sport and has made a great film in “American Sniper.’” Someone saved the moment and asked how great a responsibility he felt towards veterans in making the film.

“I hope veterans will like it. I certainly do, because they are doing a job that a lot of people don’t want to do, and it’s dangerous work. Yeah, I hope they respond positively,” Eastwood said. “I hope everybody will, but veterans especially.”

Before Mr. Eastwood went inside I mentioned that in past years, he told me he liked to make a movie a year like 1940’s directors, but this year he has made two, including “Jersey Boys.” Why?

“Yeah! I’m crazy!” he laughed.


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