The driving force: Scott Eastwood

Model athlete, risk taker, rising star in Hollywood: an interview with actor Scott Eastwood on challenges in the workplace, his distinctive last name – and his most recent short film for BMW.

Collin Erie
Marc Deckert

To the viewer, the scene seems so real you can almost feel the man’s breath. A forest, shortly before sunrise. A man sprinting through the undergrowth at first light. Is there someone in hot pursuit? No. It’s just intensive training, a complete workout before the day gets under way. Then it’s back to business. As the camera angle widens, the dream road points the way back towards civilisation.

This atmospheric commercial for the new BMW 5 Series was filmed on location in Los Angeles and in the misty forests along the California coast. But it’s not just the modern visuals that catch the eye. The ad also plays out on home turf for its protagonist – an actor who is currently the talk of the town in Hollywood. Scott Eastwood may boast a famous last name, but his recent work has also been attracting plenty of attention. In 2016, for example, he appeared in Oliver Stone’s drama Snowden, and around the same time he was cast as a tough and uncompromising soldier in the spectacular action movie Suicide Squad – just two of half a dozen major film projects he undertook over the course of a year. The 30-year-old actor, who made his debut in the 2006 movie Flags of our Fathers, the Oscar-nominated war epic directed by his father Clint Eastwood, is definitely on a roll.

Hard work pays off in the end

We got the chance to catch up with Scott Eastwood a few months after he completed work on the commercial for the new BMW saloon. It’s late December. Eastwood is on set in Sydney. Having just finished a full day’s filming, he’s in a relaxed mood. “That was the last day of shooting before Christmas,” he says. And after a very busy year, he has earned some much needed time off. “I’m thankful to have so much going on,” Eastwood insists. “I like to keep moving forward. I feel I’m growing as an actor right now – mainly by doing things I find really exciting.”

Landing a role in a major movie is certainly not something he takes for granted. No one hands out parts to young actors just because they have a famous last name. Nor is a distinctive face enough to set you apart from the rest of the Hollywood crowd. It really comes down to hard work and dedication – and Eastwood is known for taking his job seriously. Having the right attitude, showing up on set punctually, being a good team player – all that plays a major role in his work ethic, Eastwood explains. There have been times when he may have taken this a little too far. When he was asked to play a bull rider in the 2015 romantic drama The Longest Ride, he prepared for the role by mounting a bull. What might sound like some good, clean fun was in fact fraught with danger. “It was a rush, I can tell you that much,” Eastwood admits. But was it really necessary for the role? The actor laughs: “Not really. It was just one of those things – I guess I could never have looked a real bull rider in the eye. I didn’t want to go around promoting the movie and claiming I knew what it was like to be a bull rider. So I felt I had to find out for myself – I did it for them.”

The right man in the right place. The video for the new BMW 5 Series was filmed in Los Angeles and the California backcountry, Scott Eastwood’s home turf. He was born in the coastal town of Carmel, where he spent some of his teenage years.

Scott Eastwood is well known for taking his job seriously: know your script, be punctual on set, be a good team player. In his work ethic, all of that plays a major role.

Of course, it’s no coincidence that an actor as well muscled as Eastwood gets offered action roles (he is the latest embodiment of DAVIDOFF’s Cool Water fragrance). But the actor, who was raised between Hawaii and Carmel on the coast of California, brings another essential attribute to such roles besides his physique: he enjoys taking risks (he even tried out one of the famous Cool Water cliff dives himself). “It’s challenges that make life interesting,” says Eastwood.

For much of his life, the film business took a back seat. But sports have always been important to him: he trains regularly, does jiu jitsu and swims. Although he was born in Carmel, California, where his father still lives, he spent most of his childhood and adolescence in Hawaii with his mother. They lived in the natural paradise of the Big Island, the sparsely populated and largest of the islands in the archipelago. But he returned to live with his father in Carmel before high school. He has never lived far from the Pacific. He sees this as a blessing, not something to be taken for granted. “It was simply amazing to grow up like that. Always outdoors, in the open air. I’m still an outdoorsy guy today. I never had to play video games. We caught fish and were always busy doing something.”

“My father is definitely old school”

In his first joint interview with his father, which was recently published in the US magazine Esquire, Scott Eastwood spoke a little about his time in Carmel – and shared a humorous insight into the strict parenting principles of the Dirty Harry star. “My father is definitely old school,” he says, before emphasising: “My father is my hero.” Nowadays, Eastwood Senior doesn’t meddle with his son’s career choices: “Sure, we talk about the movie business,” says Scott. “But we don’t intellectualise it. Basically he tells me: just keep doing what you’re doing, one step at a time. You’ll make some good movies – and a few bad ones along the way.”

Even though he visited plenty of movie sets during his childhood, film was never Scott Eastwood’s declared ambition. “Sure, I was fascinated by the movies from an early age,” he explains, “but not so much by the idea of becoming an actor. These days I think acting is the fun side of the movie business. It’s amazing to be able to go out and act for people. But the really interesting part of the movie industry is the storytelling. I guess I’ve realised over the last five or ten years that storytelling is the side of the business that appeals to me most. And I’m working my way toward standing on the other side of the camera one day.”

There’s no doubt about it: Scott Eastwood’s career has moved into the fast lane. And before reaching his final destination, he’s sure to face a few more high-octane challenges along the way, adding more excitement to an already fascinating life. For even leaving aside the BMW commercial, cars and engines have figured heavily in his more recent roles. In 2016, for example, he was at the wheel in the upcoming instalment of The Fast and the Furious; and in the fast-paced action movie Overdrive, he starred as a car thief specialising in rare, luxury vehicles. Is it just coincidence that he spends so much time driving in his most recent films? “Actually, I love anything to do with the world of cars,” he replies. So was that really Eastwood driving the new BMW 5 Series in the new commercial? For the first time in our interview there is a moment’s hesitation. Disbelief? Eastwood sounds almost offended: “Hell, yes! The filming on location in LA was awesome. And we had this great driving machine. Why wouldn’t I want to drive it myself?”