Clint and a fistful of flak: Clint Eastwood's wife reveals how she talked him into entering the reality TV show arena
22:22 GMT, 22 June 2012
As no-nonsense San Francisco cop Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry movies and the cheroot-smoking Man With No Name in A Fistful Of Dollars, Clint Eastwood has always been used to getting his own way.
But can the same be said at home After Clint’s wife, Dina Ruiz, announced earlier this year that she and her family were going to appear in a reality TV show, Clint has come in for some stinging criticism.
Fans question how a Hollywood legend with five Oscars, numerous lifetime achievement awards and a career spanning almost 60 years could stoop to doing reality TV.
Dina Eastwood with Clint's daughter Francesca (left) and Morgan (right), her daughter with Clint
But for the reason Clint signed up to Mrs Eastwood & Company, which arrives here next month on the E! channel (home to ubiquitous reality stars the Kardashian family), one need look no further than his wife of 16 years – a pretty, gregarious former TV news anchor some 36 years his junior.
The couple were in South Africa three years ago while Clint was directing Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in Invictus. While there, they came across an a cappella group called Overtone, who were then invited to feature on the film’s soundtrack. Dina then became their manager and invited them over to the States.
experienced virulent hatred from some people saying that I’ve dragged
Clint into the reality arena.
‘I started filming the boys having fun in their new surroundings – there was chaos on a daily basis,’ says Dina. ‘I thought, “Why not pitch this as a show and really get them on the map” That’s how the reality show came about. It’s been three years in the making.’
But if the show’s primary intention is
to bring Overtone to a wider audience, it’s Clint who everyone really
wants to see. In truth, his appearances on the show are fleeting,
relegated to family get-togethers or weddings, but the man certainly
knows how to make an entrance. Meeting his wife for dinner at a
restaurant, he is stopped by an elderly female fan who exclaims, ‘Oh,
you’re so handsome’, to which the 82-year-old Clint replies, ‘Well, we
need to get you to an optician straightaway!’
Clint and his wife Dina
But if that particular fan was charmed,
others have been less so. Viewers have been lukewarm about the show,
with some taking their criticism even further. ‘I was prepared for a lot
of criticism, but we’ve received death threats,’ reveals Dina. ‘I’ve
experienced virulent hatred from some people saying that I’ve dragged
Clint into the reality arena. I’m married to the guy, so of course we
discussed this a million times.’
As well as brief glimpses of Clint and long segments on the six-man band Overtone, the show features Dina, her 15-year-old daughter with Clint, Morgan, Clint’s 18-year-old daughter Francesca (by actress Frances Fisher) and their slightly kooky Korean housekeeper, Lisa, who is emerging as the show’s unlikely star (‘She called me “newslady” for years before she called me Dina,’ says Mrs Eastwood).
But Dina admits that getting Clint to agree to the project wasn’t easy. ‘In the very beginning he was fine about it, but he became more tentative,’ she admits. ‘Then Francesca agreed to appear on it because they offered her boyfriend [30-year-old photographer Tyler Shields] a slot and Morgan said, “Well, if Francesca’s doing it, then I’m doing it too.” I’ve worked in TV, so I knew we’d be picked apart.
'I warned the girls, “You’re going to be called fat, moronic, spoilt – everything under the sun.” But they love being part of the culture of social media. But me If I’m honest, it’s far more challenging than I thought it would be. We’ve had lots of compliments saying what a normal family we are, but the death threats…’ Dina sighs. ‘Francesca and Tyler have received the most, but they handle it the best.’
Tyler, for one, is used to controversy – he infamously snapped actress Lindsay Lohan holding a gun to her mouth, and provoked a media storm by photographing Francesca burning a 64,000 handbag. ‘Tyler’s a very nice fellow and a smart guy but when he’s in our house, he doesn’t have guns and blood and handcuffs like he does in his photos,’ says Dina.
‘So there are two sides to him. I had an argument with him on camera and unfortunately drama tends to result because the camera accelerates reality. Clint thinks some of the photoshoots Francesca is doing are too much. We haven’t watched the show together – there are some things I don’t want him to see. It’s hard for him to watch when he thinks his child is at risk.’
I warned the girls, “You’re going to be
called fat, moronic, spoilt everything under the sun.” But they love
being part of the culture of social media.
You get the sense that Dina almost regrets taking on the project, although she insists, ‘I only did this to get Overtone launched – it’s all about the band. I have everything I need – my parents, my kids and my husband – and I don’t need anything else. I’m not materialistic and neither is my husband and I think that’s partly why we’re together – because we share the same values.’
The couple met in 1993 when Dina interviewed Clint for a local TV show, although initially Dina’s romantic motives were entirely different. ‘I thought he’d find my mum attractive because she’s a petite redhead and he’d been going out with similar women like Frances Fisher and Sondra Locke. So nothing happened, but then a year later we were sat together at a function. It was bizarre: we started holding hands underneath the table and just never let go. My parents weren’t starstruck when they met him, as they were more concerned about the age difference, but it’s hard not to love him. He’s so genial and so cute with a great sense of humour. He defies age.’
It would be easy to dismiss Dina as a woman intent on carving out her own portion of fame in the shadow of her brilliant husband, but in truth, it’s easy to warm to her as she’s funny and self-deprecating and personable, cheerily admitting, ‘I look terrible in nearly every scene of the show!’ In one episode she gets her belly button pierced to deter Morgan from doing the same, ‘and when I told Clint what I’d done he just laughed and said, “You’re such a kook.”’
Clint once said of Dina, ‘She doesn’t want any acting parts. Doesn’t want any money. Doesn’t want anything.’ So why did she want this show ‘Purely to get the band out there,’ she says. ‘It wasn’t my idea to use Clint’s last name in the show’s title and I fought against it because I don’t want to ride on his coat-tails. But the network decided to do it. Clint and I had many discussions about this project. He has too much humility to say, “You have to respect my status”, but I feel like I’m gatekeeping his image. I’d never want to do anything to sully his reputation.’
Mrs Eastwood & Company starts on Sunday 1 July, 11pm, E! channel.