Clint Eastwood Won't Reprise Empty-Chair Routine, Talks Endorsing GOP Candidates

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Clint Eastwood and Toby Keith

"I didn't hear any negative feedback, at least not to my face," Eastwood tells THR about his presentation at the Republican National Convention three years ago.

Clint Eastwood has no plans to reprise his famous empty-chair routine at the Republican National Convention this year, nor does he plan to attend the event. In fact, he hasn't yet decided on which candidate to support, he told The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, and he may be done participating in national politics completely.

"I have no plans to do anything with the Republican party again. I may end with politics in Carmel," the director and actor says, referencing his stint as mayor of that California city.

"I don't think so," he tells THR when asked if he'd even attend the GOP presidential event, where he was arguably the biggest hit — or largest embarrassment, depending on your perspective — in the last election cycle.

"I'm watching everybody," Eastwood says of the Republican candidates seeking the presidential nomination. 

Eastwood's performance during the last Republican convention three years ago was widely panned among Hollywood liberals, but Eastwood said he didn't hear any firsthand criticism.

"I didn't hear any negative feedback, at least not to my face," Eastwood tells THR.

Eastwood spoke to THR prior to accepting the Patriot Award from the Navy SEAL Foundation, a non-profit group that helps the Naval Special Warfare community and their families. The event's host committee included filmmaker Ridley Scott, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, casino mogul Steve Wynn and others.

"That comment about being a conservative in Hollywood just ruined my career," Eastwood joked after one speaker Thursday night noted that Eastwood's political opinions don't jive with famously liberal Hollywood. His public remarks lasted just about one minute.

While actor Sean Penn had initially been scheduled to be part of the program, he was substituted a few days ago for Taya Kyle, the wife of slain SEAL Chris Kyle, who was the subject of American Sniper. The movie was directed by Eastwood and earned $350 million domestically, enough to make it North America's most successful war film in history.

It was an emotional evening, filled with stories of SEAL heroism and a slideshow with photos of dozens of fallen SEALs.

"Let's surround them with our heartfelt love," said 32-year-old Jessica Buchanan, who was rescued by SEAL Team 6 in Somalia in 2012. 

The "Star-Spangled Banner" was sung, to rousing applause, by Navy First Class Petty Officer Steven Powell. Country superstar Toby Keith sang about "justice and freedom and liberty," he said. Specifically, his set consisted of three songs: "Beer for My Horses," "American Soldier" and "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue."

Keith's line, "We'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way," drew applause from the audience of U.S. warriors. "God bless the Navy SEAL Foundation," Keith said after his performance. 

"I was trying hard not to sob," Taya Kyle said after Keith's performance and the slideshow of fallen SEALs. "He was just Chris. Hot guy in a bar," she said of her deceased husband.

"Everything I do is first for God, and for Chris," she said. She held back tears talking about the murderer of her husband. The killer, she said, did not suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Those people, she said, are "strong" and "good," unlike the man who killed her husband.

Also at the event, two tickets to the premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 were auctioned for $7,500, with proceeds going to the Navy SEAL Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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