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Clint Eastwood Opener Taylor Hicks: RNC Speech 'Was Entertaining'

The "American Idol" season five winner, who performed at the Republican National Convention on Thursday, tells THR about reaction to the actor's ad-lib and the scene down in Tampa.

Clint Eastwood and Taylor Hicks
Courtesy Taylor Hicks

American Idol's Taylor Hicks isn't exactly a conservative or a right-winger. Sure, the season five winner performed at the 2012 Republican National Convention and was, in essence, Clint Eastwood's warmup act, but Hicks insists that when it comes to politics, he's party neutral (and totally open to playing the DNC as well).

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"I think it's important to be involved in the political process," Hicks tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I definitely put a lot of thought into it. But being asked to take part as a performer, it's one of those gigs where if you want to be a part of history, then you go for it."

Of course, little did Hicks know that the booking he secured two weeks ago (he performed the Doobie Brothers' "Takin' It To the Streets") would be the preamble for the convention's scene stealing moment: Clint Eastwood's speech.

"I never thought I would open up for Dirty Harry," says Hicks.

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And an unforgettable appearance at that -- Eastwood's much improvised address, which was highlighted by a symbolic empty chair meant to represent incumbent Barack Obama, has become one of the RNC's most talked about moments, hijacking valuable news cycles from Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The reaction on the floor, says Hicks, was one of entertainment.

"It was funny, it was interesting and it was entertaining," Hicks tells THR. "If you get Clint Eastwood out of the house and he's got something to say, you listen. He's an iconic figure in America and anything he does, he does with passion."

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As it turns out, Hicks and the Eastwood family go back. "They were on the Soul Patrol when I was on Idol," says Hicks referencing his group of diehard fans. "And I performed at the Museum of Tolerance International Film Festival Gala in 2010 when Clint Eastwood was honored. So I met him a few times, which made the RNC a nostalgic moment for me."

As for the jocular tone in Tampa, Hicks likened the scene to "a Southeastern conference football tailgate Saturday -- everybody was on the same team."

Also on Hicks' Tampa itinerary: a stint as Piers Morgan's house band. "I was slaying the harmonica in and out of breaks," he says. "It was cool -- I got to see and meet a lot of people, be a fly on the wall and a part of our political process. It was an honor."

No matter which side of the aisle you're on, adds Hicks, "if you don't like what's going on politically, the most important thing to do is get out and vote." 

Twitter: @shirleyhalperin