LOS ANGELES — “Am I aging?” Clint Eastwood asked with mock surprise.
Those were the first words out of the 82-year-old Hollywood legend's mouth in response to the opening question at last weekend's news conference promoting his new movie, “Trouble with the Curve.”
In the film, Eastwood plays a veteran baseball scout who's losing a vital tool of his trade — his eyesight. So a reporter had asked the star to weigh the good, the bad and the ugly aspects of getting older.
“The pros and the cons? Well, you know a lot more, at least until the time you start forgetting it all. Actually aging can be a fun process to some degree. But ask me a year or so from now and I'll try to give you the same answer.”
One event in his life the press won't soon allow him to forget is the night he spoke to an empty chair and an imaginary President Barack Obama at the Republican National Convention, where he was appearing in support of Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy. Eastwood himself has joked that Democrats who were watching thought he was going senile, while “Republicans knew I was.”
A reporter asked Eastwood how he felt about the experience in retrospect.
“Well it didn't get the response that I wanted because I was hopin' they'd nominate me,” he said, flashing a wry, thin-lipped smile that gathered crinkles around his eyes. “My ambitions were tremendous.”
Then, a little more seriously: “I don't know what the response was. My only message was that I just wanted people to take the idolizing factor out of every contestant out there and just look at the work and look at the background and then make a judgment on that. I was just trying to say that and I did it in kind of a roundabout way which took up a lot more time, I suppose, than they would've liked.”
Eastwood has played the politician himself in his time, serving as mayor of his hometown, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Calif., for one term, and as an appointee on the California Parks and Recreation Commission. A self-described Libertarian, he has supported causes and candidates on both sides of the political fence.
But he's dedicated most of his long life to filmmaking — on both sides of the camera — as actor, director, producer and even musical composer.
“Trouble with the Curve” marks the first time Eastwood has not directed himself since the 1993 Secret Service thriller “In the Line of Fire.”