Eastwood Breaks Silence, Explains Chair Speech

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 7 2012 11:44 AM

"When I Saw the Stool Sitting There, It Gave Me The Idea"

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Clint Eastwood addresses the audience at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Florida, on August 30

Photo by Stan Honda/AFP/GettyImages.

"There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down. When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea. I’ll just put the stool out there, and I’ll talk to Mr. Obama and ask him why he didn’t keep all of the promises he made to everybody."

That was how Clint Eastwood explained how he came up with the idea behind his performance-art-meets-stump-speech at last week’s Republican National Convention. The Hollywood icon, who has done his best to stay out the spotlight in the aftermath of his speech, broke his silence in an interview with his hometown newspaper, the Carmel Pine Cone, that was published today. It doesn't disappoint.

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A few highlights:

  • What he wanted to achieve: "I had three points I wanted to make,” Eastwood said. “That not everybody in Hollywood is on the left, that Obama has broken a lot of the promises he made when he took office, and that the people should feel free to get rid of any politician who’s not doing a good job. But I didn’t make up my mind exactly what I was going to say until I said it."
  • On whether he was vetted: "They vett [sic] most of the people, but I told them, 'You can’t do that with me, because I don’t know what I’m going to say.'"
  • On the unscripted nature of it: "It was supposed to be a contrast with all the scripted speeches, because I’m Joe Citizen," he said. "I’m a movie maker, but I have the same feelings as the average guy out there."
  • Bonus quote: "They’ve got this crazy actor who’s 82 years old up there in a suit," Eastwood said. "I was a mayor, and they’re probably thinking I know how to give a speech, but even when I was mayor I never gave speeches. I gave talks."

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

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