Clint Eastwood First Met Oscar-Nominated Director by Saving His Horses

Clint Eastwood was around plenty of horses over the course of his career in Western projects. However, they would also be a part of a fateful encounter between the actor and one of the most famous movie directors of all time. Eastwood once recalled the first time he met filmmaker Howard Hawks when he saved his horses after chasing them down the street.

Clint Eastwood never worked with ‘biggie’ filmmakers of the era

Clint Eastwood, who saved Howard Hawks' horses. He's wearing a blue suit jacket while sitting in a chair. He's looking to the side, talking.
Clint Eastwood | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

According to Kevin Avery’s Conversations with Clint: Paul Nelson’s Lost Interviews with Clint Eastwood, the actor didn’t work with any of the big directors when he was younger. However, he certainly wishes that he had the opportunity to do so.

“I never had the great fortune of working with any of the biggies, with any of the so-called big names of those eras,” Eastwood said. “I never was in a [William] Wyler or a [George] Stevens or a [Cecil B.] DeMille or any of those things. I never even got bit parts in those. I did do a picture with Bill Wellman one time [Lafayette Escadrille in 1958], but Wellman was kind of in a cold spell at that point in his life, and it wasn’t one of his major efforts.”

Eastwood continued: “The time to have been with Wellman was The Ox-Bow Incident and some of the great films he did. But I was never of any value to those guys at that time. Most of those guys were coming to the end of their careers as I was coming on.”

However, Eastwood would find that he would encounter one after rescuing some horses.

Clint Eastwood first met Howard Hawks when he saved his horses

Eastwood once recalled how he first met Hawks when he saved his horses. However, this was before the actor entered the Hollywood scene. Otherwise, perhaps the world would have a collaboration between the two names.

“Funny thing, I met Hawks one time,” Eastwood recalled. “I was 17 years old. I came down on the weekend with a bunch of guys from Oakland, a bunch of crazy characters, and we stopped off in San Luis Obispo and partied with some gals who went to Cal Poly there. We were just punk kids.”

Eastwood continued: “We ran into this guy who invited us to a party at his house in Westwood. The guy’s family had a few bucks. We went down to this party, and we were all drinking a lot of beer and stuff, and we saw some horses running down the street. We said, ‘God, we’ve got to catch these horses.'”

“They’re just running down the boulevard—Sepulveda,” Eastwood said. “This was before freeways and all that. We ran out, and we stopped these horses, and we herded them all back up the street. We saw this man come running down the street and he said, ‘Oh God, you got the horses. Thanks, you guys.’ The guy who lived down there said, ‘That’s Howard Hawks, that guy we were just talking to. A big movie guy.’ I was really impressed.”

Howard Hawks didn’t remember the situation

Eastwood had the opportunity to meet Hawks again long after saving his horses. He wasn’t exactly sure how the animals got out, but he thought he’d bring it up when he met him again. However, the occasion didn’t necessarily stand out for Hawks in the same way it did for Eastwood.

“They were his, and they got out of the corral at night somehow,” Eastwood said. “But that’s the closest I ever came to anybody in the movie business at that time of life. I had no ideas about anything. Later on, I ran into Howard Hawks one time at a party, and I reminded him, but he didn’t remember it. It wasn’t much of an incident to him, but to us, it was an event.”

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