TWO WORDS FROM CLINT MEANT
MORE THAN TEN SPEECHES FROM ANYONE ELSE
In 1977, when I interviewed
Sondra Locke for The New York Times, she couldn't stop rhapsodizing
about her director and leading man, Clint Eastwood.
She no longer has that
problem. --GUY FLATLEY
a girl can hit an air-pocket on her flight to stardom. Take the
case of Sondra Locke.
"I started off like gangbusters," said the shapely, hollow-cheeked
blonde, looking back nearly 10 years to a time when she had just
landed in Hollywood, straight out of Shelbyville, Tenn. and was
being hailed for her touching performance as the gawky adolescent
heroine of "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter."
was very young, and knew nothing of the ways of Hollywood. It came
as a real shocker that talent was not the only element involved
in making a success. So I sort of withdrew from the race and collected
by fairytale books. My career has been a crazy one; I love to act,
but Im not an aggressive person. The only roles that were
offered to me were vulnerable young girls. But I wanted to be a
woman. Finally, I read this script, and it gave me chills. 'Ive
got to do this,' I told myself."
And so she did. The shiver-inducing script, written by Dennis Shryack
and Michael Butler, is called "The Gauntlet," and it has
been directed by its top-billed star, Clint
Eastwood the same actor-director who coaxed the reticent
Locke out of semi-retirement last year for "Outlaw Josey Wales."
"I play a hooker in Las Vegas who is extradited as a witness
in a very important trial," she said. "Certain people
dont want me to testify, and I get caught up with a detective
who is determined to get me safely to court. Clint and I have one
of those great love-hate relationships, right out of the old movies.
Were constantly battling."
Off-camera, they are in perfect harmony. "God, is Clint ever
a fantastic director," insisted Locke. "Two words from
him means more to me than 10 speeches from any other director. More
than anyone Ive ever met, Clint is a man of instinct. He can
feel everything that is going on in everyone around him, and he
makes acting so natural, so easy. Of course, Ive always been
impressed with him as a star; he may be the only one on the screen
today who has that incredible magic the old stars had that
bigger-than-life quality that goes beyond talent."
If Locke emerges from "The Gauntlet" a bigger-than-life
star, it will not be the result of exhaustive research for her portrait
of the menaced prostitute.
"I suppose it would sound very impressive if I said I had myself
thrown into the slammer with 50 hookers, but I didnt. I didnt
observe hookers, because to me hookers are people, not stereotypes.
The way I approach a part is to read the script and then just go
about my everyday business. The character boils on the back burner
of my mind until she becomes so vivid that she takes over, and I
disappear. I never know what Im going to do until I do it."
Lockes role in life, as in art, seems to be that of a complaisant
passenger who trusts an omniscient conductor to steer her to her
"Watching my life unfold is like watching some gigantic movie.
Im constantly astonished by how little we have to do with
what happens to us, how few choices we actually have. Ive
had some real lows in my life, but
I hope I dont sound
like Pollyanna, but right now, my life is magic. Everything is exploding
and coming together again, like a giant fireworks display. I have
to sit back, take a long look, and ask, Is this really me,
the little girl from Shelbyville, Tenn?'"