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Clint Eastwood: I’m proud I got to play a Marine’ in Heartbreak Ridge

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Matthew Hilton, Director of the Entertainment Media Liaison Office, Communication Directorate, and U.S. Marine Corps Master Sgt. Kristin Bagley, Communication Strategy and Operations Chief for the Entertainment Media Liaison Office, Communication Directorate meet and greet with Clint Eastwood. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa I. Ugalde)
December 11, 2019

Actor and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Clint Eastwood showed off his film “Richard Jewell” in an advanced screening for an audience of U.S. Marines at Camp Pendleton.

In an interview with Marines during the visit, Eastwood said the last time he had been to the Marine Corps Base was during the filming of his 1986 film, “Heartbreak Ridge.” As the 89-year-old director took the theater stage, he was introduced as Sgt. Thomas “Gunny” Highway, the name of his Marine character in the same film.

A Marine introducing Eastwood said “we’re bringing back Gunny Highway” to introduce the latest film, based on a true story about the titular character Richard Jewell’s efforts to save thousands of lives during the 1996 Atlanta City Bombing. That same Marine acting as a master of ceremonies said Jewell’s actions depicted in the film may have saved his own parents, who were present to see the Olympics in Atlanta, Ga. during the bombing attack.

The film goes on to depict both Jewell’s fateful actions and his battle with subsequent media reporting which suggested he was actually complicit in the bombing attack.

“It’s a great story about one man who stood by his principles, stood by his rights. And you never know by his actions who he could have saved,” the Marine said.

During his tour of Camp Pendleton, Eastwood said, “I see this and I’m proud that I got a chance to play a Marine, even though I’m not qualified to be a Marine at this present time.”

He recalled being raised during World War II and seeing movies about the war effort. He said films about the Marines were a particular favorite for him.

Eastwood also stuck around to sign autographs for Marines and Sailors stationed on the base, according to Fox 5 News.

Juan Martinez, a Marine on the base told Fox 5 “(It was) a great experience to be able to be so close to an iconic figure.”

Eastwood has directed other films about military service members including the 2014 film, American Sniper based on the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.

His 2018 movie “The 15:17 to Paris” is another recent film which focuses on the actions of three friends, Anthony Sadler, Oregon Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos and U.S. Air Force Airman First Class Spencer Stone who stopped an ISIS attacker attempting to carry out a terrorist attack aboard a train bound for Paris in 2016. The three characters played themselves in the film.