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Clint Eastwood = Still Baaaaad

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Oct 08, 2008 | 1:35pm EDT

"Make my day"--are three words uttered by Clint Eastwood during a moment that would go down in bad ass cinematic history. Well, according to the audience consensus at the press screening of the Changeling at the 46th New York Film Festival, he's badder than ever and still leaving his cinematic mark--especially with his latest tenacious leading lady. 

Prolific actor, director, producer, composer Eastwood, one of America's biggest homegrown icons, has brought to the fold a powerful directorial voice--particularly for the past five years with: Mystic River (2003), Million Dollar Baby (2004), Letters from Iwo Jima and Flags of Our Fathers (2006), and now the Changeling; with two centered on a strong, female-driven story.

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CLICK HERE FOR RED CARPET PHOTOS: NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL CHANGELING PREMIERE

Having worked with the captivating, angular Oscar winner Hilary Swank--who nabbed her second statue collaborating with him on Million--Eastwood's gut instincts were on the money again with the Changeling: who better to cast than Angelina, the alluring, noir-ish, classic Hollywood 'dame'?

Set in 1928, the crime-laced mystery is based on a true story about a single, working mother, Christine Collins, who gets caught in a web of lies and shocking intrigue, when the LAPD attempts to recover her nine-year-old son who's gone missing. 

It's a role requiring emotional prowess and the ability to simmer with (deferential) defiance. Clearly, like his own acting persona, Eastwood likes his leading ladies toughened too--and why not?

Self-assured Eastwood, a crisp, matter-of-fact speaker, shared with us, his inquisitive audience, the THREE REASONS that made Angelina the 'one'--that is, the right actress to work with to play the role of the very feminine yet unyielding Ms. Collins--the celebrity machine aside:

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REASON #1: "I always thought of her as a very interesting actress, and a very good actress. In recent years she’s had so much publicity and being on the cover of almost every possible publication in the world, you all of a sudden you might start taking it [her talent] for granted. There's a lot of people who get on the covers of so many magazines; that may not mean they’re necessarily talented but in her case she's really talented."

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REASON #2: "She is the most prepared actress, or certainly as prepared as any actress I’ve ever worked with--she came in with the material in her mind and her attack on the character was amenable--you could shoot almost immediately, which is something I like to do."

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REASON #3: "I like to catch somebody [an actor] before they’ve had a chance to think about it [their lines] too much ... She’s very amenable to that--and of course she does have the most striking face that one could imagine. We wanted to drop all that and just get into the character."

CLICK HERE FOR THE CHANGELING MOVIE STILL PHOTOGALLERY

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