Dawn is barely a suggestion as Scott Eastwood paces around his driveway, throwing fishing gear into the back of a GMC pickup. Wetsuits. Dive tanks. Three well-used wooden spearguns. It’s pitch-black at 6 a.m., and Eastwood hasn’t even had coffee, but he’s surprisingly chipper. “This is a gentleman’s start,” he says, peeling a banana. “During tuna season, we’ll go out at 3:30 or 4. Fish all day. By the time you get home at night, you’re absolutely destroyed. You just sleep for 15 hours.” He smiles. “It’s the best.”
Eastwood lives half an hour outside San Diego, in a woodsy subdivision flanked by a golf course. He used to be in a little bungalow by the beach, over in Encinitas, where he could walk to go surfing, but when his acting career started taking off, strangers began showing up. (“I was like, ‘What the fuck, bro?’ ”) So he moved out here where it’s quieter, to a rambling ranch house on one and a half acres that he shares with his yellow Lab, Fred.
The 32-year-old has been fishing since he was a kid growing up in Northern California and Hawaii. But as his career heats up, it’s getting harder for him to find time on the water. He was in three movies last year, including The Fate of the Furious, the latest installment in the gajillion-dollar Fast and Furious franchise. Now he’s starring in a blockbuster alongside John Boyega: Pacific Rim Uprising, the sequel to 2013’s robots vs. sea monsters extravaganza Pacific Rim, which opens this month. Eastwood plays military pilot Nate Lambert, who captains one of the aforementioned robots. When he first heard about the role, Eastwood, who flies helicopters in real life, says, “I was like, ‘I could do that. I know how to pilot an aircraft—I can fuckin’ pilot a giant robot.'”
But right now he has a few days off, so fishing it is. He’s going out with two buddies—Tim, who works “caring for high-net-worth individuals’ properties,” and Jesse, a Santa Barbara photographer who often tags along to document Eastwood’s globe-trotting for social media. (Most recently, they went cliff diving in Tahiti and surfing in Japan.) Eastwood throws in the last bag and climbs behind the wheel, and after a quick stop at the supermarket for ice and sandwiches, we hit the road for Marina Cortez, where his friend’s boat is moored.
Eastwood has his own little boat, an 18-foot Grady-White, but his buddy Steven has generously offered his 35-foot catamaran for the day. “It’s an awesome boat,” Eastwood says. “It’s a fish-killing machine.
“You know what they say,” he adds. “The best boat is a friend’s boat. And also: If it flies, floats, or fucks, rent it.” He laughs. “It’s true, though!”
On the drive out, Eastwood warns us it will be cold on the water until the sun comes up. “I hate being cold,” he says. “My dad used to have these old Wagoneers at his ski house in Sun Valley. They had no heat—you’d start it up and just be freezing all the way home. Like, ‘Dad, can’t we just get a new car that has heat? We’re in the mountains!’ ”
Right, Eastwood’s dad—maybe you’ve heard of him? Name’s Clint. He does something in the movie business. Before we met, I’d heard Eastwood didn’t love talking about his famous father. But that’s not quite true—it’s more that he doesn’t love being asked about him. He talks about him all the time. You probably would, too, if your dad was Clint Eastwood.
As day breaks at the marina, the family resemblance is unmistakable. There’s the lifeguard’s build, the wolfish smile, that legendary squint. Scott is a little bro-ier than his old man, like an Abercrombie’d version of Clint. But he’s also warmer, friendlier. “We’re so lucky,” he says as he loads the last bit of gear. “It’s gonna be a beautiful day.”
Steven pilots us out of the marina, past a U.S. Navy base and a submarine shipyard. In the distance, to the south, there’s a mountain range cloaked in smog. “That’s Mexico,” Eastwood says. He tells a story about a friend who jet-skied to a beach down there to do some tow-in surfing but got spotted by the Mexican navy, who tried to take him into custody. His buddy led them on a 20-minute high-speed chase back to the States, as they fired their .50-caliber rifles in the water around him. And that was the last time he snuck into Mexico to surf, right? “Oh, no,” Eastwood says, laughing. “He goes down there all the time.”
Eastwood has plenty of stories of his own. Like the time he road-tripped his way up the Skeleton Coast in Namibia, fishing and diving and searching for the perfect wave. Or the time he almost crashed in a helicopter during a snowboarding trip in the Canadian Rockies—then got caught in an avalanche on the same trip. Or the time he was held down by a big wave in Australia, when he remembers thinking, “Oh, this is it—this is what it feels like before you die.” Eastwood has a blue belt in jujitsu, hunts elk with a bow, has backpacked the John Muir Trail, golfs in the mid-80s, and remodeled his own kitchen. In short: He’s a man who can do stuff.
After about half an hour, we drop anchor in a kelp bed near a peninsula called Point Loma. Eastwood knows these waters well. “In the summer it’s a friggin’ playground out here,” he says. “We’re in green water right now, which is kinda shitty. But once you get a few miles out, it’s blue water, 500-foot visibility, 72 degrees. Big schools of tuna, dolphins, whales…”
He puts on his gear—green camo wetsuit, weight vest, mask, snorkel—and Jesse asks him what the water temperature is now. “Cold!” he says, gritting his teeth. Then he loads a shaft on his speargun and jumps in. “Whoo!”
The winter isn’t the best season for fishing, so Eastwood isn’t expecting much—maybe a yellowfin tuna or a white sea bass if he’s extremely lucky, but more likely a California sheepshead, a docile local species of whitefish. He and Steven free-dive for about an hour but come back empty-handed; they didn’t so much as see a fish. “Nada,” Eastwood says, climbing back aboard.
By now the sun is out, the day heating up, Bob Marley and Led Zeppelin blasting on Pandora. Steven motors the boat to a different spot, over a rocky reef, and he and Eastwood suit up again, this time with scuba gear. Eastwood straps on his dive tank and hops in the water. “God, it feels good to pee,” he says, enjoying the wetsuit warmth. Jesse hands down his speargun, and a dive bag in case they see any lobster. “All right,” says Eastwood. “Let’s go find some dinner.”
Thirty-five minutes later, they bubble back to the surface. “Fuck, that was a good spot!” says Steven, pulling out his regulator.
“I know!” says Eastwood. He fins over to the boat and hands up his line, with two good-size sheepshead strung on it. He’s also toting a bag filled with about a half-dozen spiny lobsters.
“Two shots, two fish,” he says, smiling. “Now let’s get the fuck out of here.”
It’s past lunchtime and everyone’s starving, so we head back in. On our way, a pod of dolphins appears and starts leaping alongside the boat wake. “A lot of time they come right up,” Eastwood says. “You can literally lean down and pet them.”
He runs a hand through his salty blond hair. “Having long hair is so weird,” he says. I tell him it doesn’t seem that long to me—a few inches at most. “It’s the longest it’s been since I was a teenager,” he says. “I’m trying to grow it out for a year or two. Commit to something.”
“I’m a massive fan of my father,” Eastwood says of his dad, Clint. “I really admire him. I’d love to do another movie with him before he’s done doing movies. That would be a dream come true.”
But what about acting gigs? So far, he’s been cast as mostly straight-arrow guys—soldiers and government agents. Wouldn’t long hair limit the kind of roles he could play?
Eastwood shrugs. “I’m trying to get out of the pretty-boy thing,” he says. “I want to do what Brad Pitt did—get a little down and dirty. Hollywood loves to put you in a box: ‘You’re the good-looking military guy.’ But I really want to play some complex characters with more depth. Real roles that have real demand for acting.”
Steven, who’s been listening, grins: “But you’re so pretty!”
Eastwood laughs. “Thanks, buddy.”
As we near the harbor, the San Diego skyline comes into view. “Beautiful city, huh?” Eastwood says. He likes San Diego because it’s peaceful and the weather is great. “And the people are really active, which is nice,” he says. “Most of my friends are not in the film industry.”
Back at his place, Eastwood gives me a quick tour. There’s the garage filled with dude gear—surfboards, paddleboards, golf clubs, lawn chairs, a gun safe. There’s a huge American flag on the front porch, and in the backyard, a pool, a fishing boat, and a volleyball court. The interior is decorated in a sort of post-frat chic, with a pool table covered by architectural blueprints (for the guesthouse he’s building) and a humongous flat-screen TV with a PlayStation. (For the record: Eastwood is single.)
“Oh, you want to see something amazing?” he asks. On a bookcase in the living room, there’s an old black-and-white photo of a family on the beach. “Pacific Palisades, 1942,” he says. “This is my Grandma Ruth; my grandfather, Clint Sr.; my Aunt Jeanne; and my dad. Twelve years old. Pretty cool,” he says. “And what’s even crazier is, if you look at a picture of me at 12, you cannot tell the fuckin’ difference.”
Eastwood’s family history is slightly complicated. His mom, Jacelyn Reeves, was working as a flight attendant in the 1980s when she met Eastwood’s dad at a restaurant he owned in Carmel, California. Clint was in a decade-long relationship at the time, but he and Reeves started an affair, and in March 1986, Scott was born. His legal birth name was Scott Clinton Reeves; other than as a namesake, Clint didn’t appear on the birth certificate. The general public didn’t know about their relationship until years later, after a tabloid exposé.
But growing up, Scott says, Clint was always his dad. “For sure, he was busy,” he says. “You gotta remember, at his height he was doing two or three movies a year. But he definitely was there. I shot my first gun with my dad; he taught me how to fish. He did a lot of that stuff.” And even though Clint was already 55 when Scott was born, it didn’t slow him down. “My dad at 50 was like most dads at 30,” Eastwood says. “He was ripped. He’s just a natural athlete.”
And just how was Clint Eastwood as a dad? “Pretty hard-ass,” Eastwood says, laughing. “Big shocker. He was very tough, very matter-of-fact about it. My dad was gonna man me up for sure. There were no handouts. It was like, go out and get a job, get it done. It gave me a lot of drive: Are you gonna keep busing tables the rest of your life, or are you gonna go work hard and create something?”
Growing up, Eastwood moved around between Carmel (where his mom lived), Hawaii (where she later moved), and Los Angeles (where his dad lived while he worked). “I was back and forth,” he says. “I’d piss my mom off, then I’d piss my dad off….” Growing up, his father was “my biggest influence and my hero,” but Eastwood never dreamed of being an actor per se. “I always liked movies, I loved the art of telling a story,” he says. “The actor thing was more of a conduit to learn the craft and be a part of it, but I didn’t make it my life. I always thought in the back of my mind, ‘I’m gonna give this till I’m 30—and if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just go be a firefighter.’ My identity was never wrapped up in being an actor.”
Despite the famous name, there’s no trace of the entitled scion or slacker prima donna to Eastwood. When he first decided to try acting, at 17, when he was going to community college in Santa Barbara, he insisted on identifying himself as “Scott Reeves” and supported himself busing tables at a brewpub, driving down to L.A. for auditions in his 1991 Crown Vic. (“An old cop car,” he says. “A piece of crap.”)
Later on he paid the bills working construction or bartending and valet parking. He says he never got any special treatment from his dad. He’s played tiny roles in four of Clint’s movies—Flags of Our Fathers, Gran Torino, Invictus, and Trouble With the Curve—but the old man made him audition for them. Indeed, maybe the best glimpse of the Eastwood father-son dynamic can be seen in the one time they’ve shared the screen together, in a scene from Gran Torino where Clint’s crotchety old racist scares off some neighborhood toughs with a gun.
“Way to go, old man!” cheers Scott, who plays a dopey local teen.
“Shut up, pussy,” snarls Clint.
“I’m trying to get out of the pretty-boy thing. Hollywood loves to put you in a box. I want to do what Brad Pitt did—get a little down and dirty.”
Eastwood eventually landed starring roles in a few lesser-seen romances and action flicks as well as supporting roles in bigger movies like Fury, Snowden, and Suicide Squad. (“Suicide Squad—sorry about that one,” he jokes. “I owe you 10 bucks.”) Now that he’s taking over his own mega-budget franchise, he’s thinking about what a career as a leading man might look like. “I admire guys who’ve done the movie star thing really well,” he says. “Leonardo DiCaprio. Mark Wahlberg. Denzel Washington. Harrison Ford.”
But he’d also like to produce, and maybe even direct—just like a certain other Eastwood he knows.
“I’m a massive fan of my father,” he says. “He went from movie star to director and really had an evolution—telling different kinds of stories. I really admire him. I’d love to do another movie with him before he’s done doing movies—I’m trying to find a great piece of material we could do together.
“That,” he says, “would be a dream come true.”
Eastwood runs upstairs to take a quick shower. “So,” he says when he returns a few minutes later. “Should we do a lap in the chopper?”
In order to legally carry passengers, pilots are required to fly at least once every 90 days: what’s known as a “currency flight.” It turns out Eastwood is due for his. Do I want to come along? Why not? His truck is parked at the airport, so we hop in my SUV, where I apologize that the passenger seat is covered in sand. “Welcome to my life, bro!” he says cheerily. “It’s all good.”
Eastwood grew up flying with his dad. “Some of my fondest memories were getting in the helicopter with him and flying up to his ranch in Northern California, just the two of us,” he says. “We’d set down in the middle of nowhere, on top of a mountain or in a field, get out, and have a sandwich. Then we’d take off and fly the rest of the way up. I was always like, ‘That is the coolest thing in the world.’ ”
He got his license a few years ago. “People don’t realize, you have to legitimately go back to school for two years,” he says. “It’s like getting a master’s.” He says he loves the freedom of helicopters, the way “you’re not confined to an airport.” Sometimes he’ll fly to L.A. for meetings, but he stresses that he’s still a student. “Even the really good pilots with thousands of hours, they’re never cocky,” Eastwood says. “The learning process never ends.”
We pull into the parking lot of McClellan– Palomar, a single-runway airport north of town. Eastwood tells me to park in front of his hulking F-150, which is taking up two spots. (“Wow, I parked like an asshole,” he says. “Real dick move.”) We go inside and meet Candise, his flight instructor, who’ll be observing his flight today. She says Eastwood is the real deal. “He’s really knowledgeable, especially for how many hours he has,” she says. “He’s flown to L.A. a ton of times, flown to Palm Springs to see his mother, to Coachella.” She laughs. “Pretty much what you would do if you had money and a helicopter.”
Today we’re flying in a Robinson R44, a four-seat model popular with many private pilots. Eastwood buckles up and checks his instruments. “We clear?” he asks Candise. She says we’re clear. Eastwood fires up the rotors, and we lift slowly off the ground as he steers us toward the coast. His laid-back vibe recedes a bit. He is more focused, even serious, as he guides us carefully over the turquoise ocean, high above the surf breaks he knows well. “Beautiful!” he says.
Eastwood could keep doing this all day, but unfortunately I have to hit the road. So he turns back toward the airport and puts the skids down to drop me off. “Great day!” he shouts over the whirring blades. Then he turns to Candise on the headset: “Now let’s go do some real flying.”
And with that, Eastwood flashes a thumbs-up and a smile, then takes off again—climbing higher and higher until he disappears out of sight.