Clint Eastwood's now-infamous appearance at the closing night of the 2012 Republican National Convention, endorsing Mitt Romney, has other celebrities, along with the rest of America, talking about the aging director and actor.
For one brief Sunday morning, Clint Eastwood took a back seat to real political discussions. Then, we all went back to talking to empty chairs.
The rambling address, in which Eastwood conversed with an empty chair representing President Barack Obama, was politely described as "unique" by aspiring first lady Ann Romney, and Romney aides were observed cringing on the sidelines at the time.
"As a film, I wouldn't say it's one of his greatest pieces of work," Eugene Hernandez, co-founder of Indie Wire, told the Daily Beast. "He's obviously an acclaimed and respected filmmaker, and we've had a great relationship with him at the Film Society over the years, but personally, there was something off about it."
But actor-director Ben Affleck, a devoted Democrat who spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston in favor of John Kerry, defended Eastwood.
"You see these excerpts and you think, 'What's going on? He's talking to a chair? What is this?'" Affleck said to the Daily Beast. "But once you actually watch it you go, 'Yeah, I get what he's doing.' Look, everyone knows Clint is a Republican. He's 82 years old. He's old enough where you don't expect Obama up there, you know? He's got a right to speak his mind. He didn't kill with the speech, but I by no means thought it was a huge embarrassment."
Todd McCarthy, longtime chief critic at Variety and now the Hollywood Reporter, as well as a documentary filmmaker, was harsher toward the elderly Western star, calling his speech "bizarre." McCarthy told the Daily Beast that he and Eastwood are longtime friends, but "to see this wackier thing happen is not in line with his super-cool personality that we're used to."
Celebrated film critic Roger Ebert posted in a similar vein Thursday night: "Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him."
Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic. He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him.
— Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) August 31, 2012
Obama even joined in the Twitter fun, by tweeting, "This seat's taken," with an attached picture of him in a chair labeled "The President."
This seat's taken. OFA.BO/c2gbfi, twitter.com/BarackObama/st… — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 31, 2012
Eastwood's rant immediately spawned an Internet meme called "Eastwooding." People post pictures, angrily pointing at chairs in a mockery of the actor's speech where he aggressively addressed an empty chair as the president.
"It was weird to me ... but I'll still see his next movie," added Hernandez while speaking with the Daily Beast. Though the "Gran Torino" star's speech may hurt Romney, Eastwood's fan base will still see his movies.
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