Kyle Eastwood is performing this Sunday at the Malaga jazz festival. / RICHARD DUMAS

Kyle Eastwood: 'I enjoy working with my father; I have a pretty good idea of what he likes'

Clint Eastwood's son, who has composed the music for several of his father's films, fuses two of his "big passions": cinema and jazz at the Cervantes theatre in Malaga this Sunday


He's used to the shadow of his father hovering over his conversations. Kyle Eastwood has become a regular component of Clint Eastwood's work as a composer and arranger in many of his films. His signature is on the soundtracks of Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Invictus and Gran Torino, among other titles. "I enjoy working with my father, we get along very well. I've grown up watching him work, how he makes films, so I have a pretty good idea of what he likes and doesn't like," the musician explains during a telephone interview with SUR in English.

Some of his own songs and other great film compositions will be heard fused with jazz this Sunday 7 November at the Cervantes Theatre in Malaga, a place he knows well and is "looking forward" to coming back to.

Kyle Eastwood (Los Angeles, 1964) and his quintet will be at the 35th International Jazz Festival to present Cinematic, an album that symbolises the union of his two "big passions": music and film (8pm, 30 euros).

Kyle is the second of the Hollywood actor and director's eight children (of six different mothers) and the eldest from his marriage with the model Maggie Johnson. And being an Eastwood has, he points out, "its advantages and disadvantages".

"Sometimes it captures people's attention and they take notice. Sometimes it gives people a preconceived idea of who you are, what you are, what you're all about. I hope the music speaks for itself," he says.

Beginnings as an actor

He politely answers all the questions put to him, but without giving long explanations. Kyle Eastwood is discreet, he doesn't search for the limelight or seek fame. In fact he chose to go down the alternative route of jazz, when he had the red carpet under his feet.

At just eight years old he made his debut with his father in the western The Outlaw Josey Wales. This was followed by other sporadic appearances (in The Bridges of Madison County, for example) and he even studied film at the University of Southern California. "I was interested in being a director," he says. But that idea lasted no more than a year. "At that time I was 18 or 19 and started to get into playing music more and more seriously."

He swapped the cameras of Hollywood for bars in Los Angeles, where he played with different bands, some of them pop.

In New York he focused more on the jazz he had known since childhood (he recalls doing his homework with Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Miles Davis in the background), playing the double bass and the electric bass guitar in other people's jazz bands and one of his own.

"From there I moved over to Europe, I spent around a year and a half in London playing with a lot of people there," he says. His next stop was Paris, where he has spent "the better part of 15 years".

"I'm here for half the year and the rest of the time I'm in the United States to work and see all my family in California," he adds.

When asked whether music was an escape route from the Hollywood he'd known through he father, he replies: "I think I decided I loved music more than acting. I've always loved it; it's always been a passion of mine."

And within the world of music, for obvious reasons, he has veered towards film. He is "sure" that a bad soundtrack could ruin a good film.

"Sometimes music is very subtle in film. You wouldn't necessarily be able to hum a soundtrack after watching a film or notice it. But you would notice it if it were taken out. It works as an atmosphere and it can help enhance certain emotions or aspects of the film and the characters," he says.

When he composes with or for his father they get on well. "He has some very specific ideas sometimes about the music that he wants, and other times he's very open to whatever you want to bring to the table, [he] gives you creative freedom."

If he had to choose another director to work with, Kyle Eastwood mentions Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia, Phantom Thread): "He always does interesting stuff, picks interesting people to do his music. It would be fun to something with his projects," he adds.

However what for him is most "musically satisfying" is playing live on stage in front of an audience. Eastwood has resumed his international agenda, after being forced to stop by the pandemic, with concerts in Malaga and Madrid. "I'm happy to be back at work after a long break. I miss it."

“I’ve grown up shooting guns but I think they should be more regulated”

Firearms have formed part of his life, in fiction and reality. Clint Eastwood is a classic of Westerns and his son, as a child, made his film debut in one of his father’s films. But the director is also one of the great defenders of the right to own firearms in the United States. And his enthusiasm has inevitably been passed down to his offspring.

“I’ve grown up shooting guns, my father owns guns, I’ve grown up being safe around guns. I’ve enjoyed target practice and things like that,” says Kyle. “I don’t hunt or shoot animals, but I think it’s got a bit out of control. It should be more regulated, unless people want to live with these tragedies happening all the time.”

Incidents related to access to firearms in the US are “far too prevalent”, he regrets.

Kyle Eastwood expresses this in reference to the “terrible” incident during the filming of Alec Baldwin’s latest movie, when the actor accidentally killed the director of photography Halyna Hutchins when an apparent prop gun turned out to be loaded.

“It was horrible,” he says of the death that has reopened the debate about the control of firearms in the street and in films.