October 14, 2010 / 3:09 PM / 9 years ago

A Minute with: Clint Eastwood on death, afterlife

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Clint Eastwood wrestles with mortality in his latest directorial effort, “Hereafter,” but the Hollywood legend is hardly sentimental about the possibility of an afterlife at the age of 80.

Director Clint Eastwood is interviewed at the Los Angeles premiere of his film "Invictus" in Beverly Hills, California December 3, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Prouser

“Hereafter” stars Matt Damon and weaves in spectacular scenes of real life events, including the 2004 tsunami and the London 2005 bombings. The script by British writer Peter Morgan explores several characters who face questions of what is beyond life and death.

Eastwood talked to Reuters about whether he thinks more about death as he ages and if he believes in psychics.

Q: Why did Steven Spielberg recommend you to do this film?

A: “He always loved ‘Unforgiven.’”

Q: What about the film’s topic interested you enough to take it on?

A: “The whole thing of near death experiences has always been a curiosity. Because there have been so many people who have done that — who have died for a few minutes and then all of a sudden, resuscitated, or came back. They do report a similarity of things, whether it’s psychologically induced or pre-induced or whatever, I don’t know.

“But for whatever it is, people are curious about it. Everybody is curious about an afterlife, even if they don’t believe it, you are still curious about it. It’s an ultimate fantasy, visiting parents or grandparents or people that have gone before you and seeing them again.”

Q: Is it something you are thinking more about now?

A: “I know people associate that because I am 80 years old now, but I think I would have done this script if I was 30 years old. I like the material.”

Q: In general do you think older people think about mortality more?

A: “I don’t know, I don’t think it is anything that somebody is rushing toward.

“I don’t think older people think about it that much, my mother was 97. She passed away a few years back. The only thing she ever said to me, toward the last, she said, ‘I want out of here, I am tired.’ And I said ‘No, no, three more years. We get the century mark.’ I figured I could coax her into more after that, but when she finally did pass away, she couldn’t talk because she had had a stroke. They said do you want to be resuscitated for while, and she said ‘no.’ So, I had to grant her that wish.

“She had no fear and I think as you get older — you probably have more fear as a younger person than you do as an older person. Because as an older person you have stacked up a lot of background and time-in-grade, so to speak, so you are probably thinking what the hell ‘I have had a good time’.

Q: Is there one particular story you are still yearning to tell?

A: “No, I mean I just see it as it comes along. The next picture I am doing is about J. Edgar Hoover.”

Q: Do you believe in mediums, is it possible to connect with people who have passed away? Have you had such an experience?

A: “I haven’t had any personal thing. The only thing I have ever had that is sort of offbeat, that is I have watched Uri Geller spin the keys and things like that ... I have seen that so I am a believer. It was my house key and the only way I would be able to use it is get a hammer and beat it out back flat again. So there are certain energy things that are outside of the norm ... But as far as people ... to actually visualize the dead, maybe they do it, maybe it’s for real, or maybe you just guess a certain amount of things that are common to most people.”

Q: So do you think you will live as long as your mother?

A: “Oh I don’t know, I don’t deal with fate. My grandfather lived to be late 90s on one side and on the other side, 70s or something. And my father died young, at 63. But he didn’t take very good care of himself. I think it depends on what you do. What you put into life is what you get out of it. Take good care of yourself and do the best you can and the rest is wherever it is.”

Editing by Patricia Reaney

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