In the first place, I was taller than most kids in my classes. In the second, we were always moving. Redding. Sacramento. Pacific Palisades. Back to Redding. Back to Sacramento. Over to Hayward. Niles. Oakland. So we were constantly on the road, and I was always the new guy in school. The bullies always thought, Here’s this big gangly guy. We gotta take him on. You know how kids are. We gotta test him. I was a shy kid. But a lot of my childhood was spent punching the bullies out.
I kind of had a feeling “Make my day” would resonate, based upon “Do you feel lucky, punk?” in the first movie. I thought that Smith & Wesson line might hang in there, too. But “Make my day” was just so simple.
I still get it a lot.
As you get older, you’re not afraid of doubt. Doubt isn’t running the show. You take out all the self-agonizing.
What can they do to you after you get into your seventies?
Even in grammar school they taught you to go with your first impression. It’s like multiple-choice questions. If you go back and start dwelling, you’ll talk yourself out of it and make the wrong pick. That’s just a theory. I’ve never seen any studies on it. But I believe it.
As Jerry Fielding used to say, “We’ve come this far, let’s not ruin it by thinking.”
My father had a couple of kids at the beginning of the Depression. There was not much employment. Not much welfare. People barely got by. People were tougher then.
We live in more of a pussy generation now, where everybody’s become used to saying, “Well, how do we handle it psychologically?” In those days, you just punched the bully back and duked it out. Even if the guy was older and could push you around, at least you were respected for fighting back, and you’d be left alone from then on.
The band guys were looked down upon when I was a kid. I remember
playing the flügelhorn and everybody said, “What the…?”
I don’t know if I can tell you exactly when the pussy generation started. Maybe when people started asking about the meaning of life.
If I’d had good discipline, I might have gone into music.
You wonder sometimes. What will we do if something really big happens? Look how fast – seven years – people have been able to forget 9/11. Maybe you remember if you lost a relative or a loved one. But the public can get pretty blasé about stuff like that. Nobody got blasé about Pearl Harbor.
I remember buying a very old hotel in Carmel. I went into an upper attic room and saw that all the windows were painted black. “What was going on here?” I asked the prior owners. They said they thought the Japanese were off the coast during the war.
The Korean War was only a few years after World War II. We all went. But you couldn’t help but think, Shit. What the hell? What have we gained? One minute you’re unleashing the tremendous power of nuclear fission, and then a few years later you’re jockeying back and forth on the 38th parallel. It seemed so futile.
In Changeling, I tried to show something you’d never see nowadays – a kid sitting and looking at the radio. Just sitting in front of the radio and listening. Your mind does the rest.
I remember going to a huge waterfall on a glacier in Iceland. People were there on a rock-platform overlook to see it. They had their kids. There was a place that wasn’t sealed off, but it had a cable that stopped anybody from going past a certain point. I said to myself, You know, in the States they’d have that hurricane-fenced off, because they’re afraid somebody’s gonna fall and some lawyer’s going to appear.