In the nearly half-century since, Eastwood perfected the role of the ultimate tough guy -- but in recent years has set his directorial sites on the female boxer and the Battle of Iwo Jima. Now 80 years old, Eastwood is still feeling lucky, making movies his way.
(Scroll down to watch Katie Couric interview Clint Eastwood)
He may be the most quoted, most imitated and most respected man in Hollywood. It seems the only person unimpressed with Clint Eastwood is, well, Clint Eastwood, CBS Evening News Anchor Katie Couric reports.
"It's just not like I'm sitting there at the Blu-ray at night going, 'Hey, Clint,'" said Eastwood. "I don't dwell on those. I just kinda move on."
His new movie is about moving on. "Hereafter" stars Matt Damon as a psychic whose ability to connect with the dead keeps him from connecting with the living.
In it, Eastwood contemplates that age-old question: What do you think happens when we die?
Eastwood said he doesn't know how much of a factor, if any, his age played in inspiring him to direct a film about mortality.
"I think I would have done this story at 40 or at 35 because I like the story," said Eastwood. "I think everybody thinks about it at some point."
Ambivalent about the afterlife, an energetic Eastwood is all about the here and now. "Hereafter" is his eighth movie in seven years, five of which he scored the music for himself.
"I think if you enjoy what you're doing and you learn something new every day then you're OK," Eastwood said.
There's also a powerful recreation of the 2006 tsunami, an uncharacteristically high-tech sequence for the notoriously low-tech director.
That directorial trait extends into his personal life too. Nothing bothers him more than two people having dinner together while using their BlackBerry devices.
"You see it all the time," said Eastwood. "It's amazing. You go to a restaurant, and you see two people sitting across from each other, and they're on BlackBerrys, and you wonder, I wonder, if they're just texting each other? You're just missing so much. You're not really absorbing the atmosphere around you or the people around you. You're not living in the moment."
At the moment, musing about mortality seems easy for a man whose immortality is assured.
"Whatever your beliefs are in life," said Eastwood, "I think you have to kind of do the best you can with the life you're given."