‘J. Edgar’: Clint Eastwood Taught Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer How to Fight in an ‘Impromptu Fight Scene’ at 81 Years Old

Clint Eastwood is one of Hollywood’s biggest names. The industry respects the Oscar-winner as both an actor and a director. J. Edgar star Armie Hammer once recalled how Eastwood showed him and Leonardo DiCaprio how to properly put on a fight scene in an “impromptu” take. He did it in true Eastwood fashion.

J. Edgar tells the story of its title character

'J. Edgar' Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and Clint Eastwood on the red carpet
L-R: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, and Clint Eastwood | Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

DiCaprio stars as J. Edgar Hoover, the powerful head of the FBI for almost 50 years. The biographical drama is written by Oscar-winner Dustin Lance Black. The cast also includes Naomi Watts, Josh Lucas, Judi Dench, and Adam Driver in his feature debut. J. Edgar incorporates a nonlinear narrative exploring his rise to power and fighting to protect it in his later years.

Critics and audiences gave J. Edgar mostly negative reviews. However, they praised DiCaprio and Hammer’s performances. However, some criticized the movie’s inaccuracies to the real J. Edgar and the events that took place. Nevertheless, Eastwood’s involvement certainly boosted the film’s buzz, allowing the movie to get made in the first place.

An 81-year-old Clint Eastwood taught Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer how to fight in an ‘impromptu fight scene’

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Hammer about the biographical drama. He explained J. Edgar‘s all-out brawl and how Eastwood prepared them for it. The 81-year-old filmmaker showed DiCaprio and Hammer how to perform the fight scene himself along with one of his stunt worker friends. What happened next shocked Hammer at the time.

“Clint was there with one of his stunt-guy friends, Buddy Van Horn, and they put on an impromptu fight scene for us,” Hammer said. “There’s Buddy standing in the middle of the room and Clint says, ‘I think it should be something like this’ — and he explodes into Clint Eastwood the fighter and they start smacking each other around and rolling on the floor. And then Clint just gets up and says, ‘OK, something like that.’”

Eastwood has no shortage of experience as an actor, so it makes sense that he has so much knowledge regarding how it should be done. It’s clear that the filmmaker’s ability to quickly transform into performing such stunts impressed Hammer and benefited the scene for the final cut.

Clint Eastwood made J. Edgar for a small budget

Warner Bros. agreed to do J. Edgar largely because of Eastwood’s involvement. However, they wanted to do it under a reasonable budget. The Hollywood Reporter explained how the 128-page script was shot on a small budget within 39 days. The film’s 50-year timeline only cost the studio $35 million to complete. This is rather impressive, given the movie’s scope, scale, and cast.

J. Edgar isn’t one of Eastwood’s biggest movies, but it’s certainly remembered for its stellar cast. DiCaprio and Hammer both earned SAG Award nominations. The J. Edgar lead also scored a Golden Globe nomination.

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