Jackson Lee-Tom Meinelt/ Splash News Online; Flynet
Emmet Sullivan
October 05, 2008 03:00 PM

He’s won Oscars and ridden to the top of the box-office charts – so Clint Eastwood knows his movies. And his stars.

Of Angelina Jolie – the leading lady in his latest directorial effort, the period drama Changeling – Eastwood, 78, says: “I’ve always admired her talent. She’s somewhat hampered sometimes by having this gorgeous face, the most gorgeous face on the planet. She’s on covers and all that stuff.

“But,” Eastwood told veteran movie journalist Lillian Ross at a Saturday Q&A sponsored by the New Yorker magazine at the Directors Guild of America, “she is a great talent, and it would be easy to overlook that, except after seeing this you realize that she is this great, talented person.”

“This” is Changeling, set in ’20s Los Angeles and the true story of a mother whose son is returned after a kidnapping – only the boy is not hers. Eastwood describes it as “a very tough story, it’s sort of an adult horror story. It’s what this woman had been put through by the Establishment.”

When it comes to working with Jolie, “She’s very prepared. She comes in with a lot of preparation. She’s ready to go right away,” he says.

Politics and Palin

On the topic of being prepared, the conversation turned to GOP vice–presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Eastwood, from 1986 to 1988 the mayor of Carmel, Calif. – said, “She seems to be a what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of thing. [Candidates] all have a b.s. factor, because that’s the nature of politics.”

As for possibly being upset John McCain did not select him to be No. 2 on the ticket, Eastwood replied, “I was at a function, and a bunch of political types were there. And John McCain was there. He came up to say hello, I said, ‘Look, don’t even ask it. I will not be your vice president. I have to be on the top of the ticket.’ ”

The turn-off, he admits, is that “most of the time – Al Gore, going back – you saw the vice president very little. That would be the least appealing job, I think.”

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