It is a hot, humid summer’s day in rural North Carolina and the sun is beating down on the cornfields. George Tillman Jr. and his crew are filming in a small farmhouse surrounded by acres of farmland and flanked by dense woods. This key scene in romantic drama The Longest Ride takes place on the family ranch in which Luke, played by Scott Eastwood (Clint Eastwood’s son, blessed with his father’s good looks) is introducing his new girlfriend, Sophia (Britt Robertson), to his mother (Lolita Davidovich).
The Longest Ride, is adapted from the novel by Nicholas Sparks and tells the story of Luke and Sophia, two lovers from different upbringings who fatefully save the life of an elderly widower, Ira (Alan Alda) who crashed his car, skidding off the road in stormy conditions.
Sophia befriends Ira as he convalesces.As Ira reflects back on his life, Sophia also finds out how Ira and his wife Ruth (Oona Chaplin) navigated a long marriage that was always loving, but rarely free from obstacles. It emerges that there are parallels between Ruth and Ira and Sophia’s own relationship with Luke.
Scott Eastwood brings Luke to life on screen with what George Tillman Jr. describes as “charisma and charm. The camera loves him,” says the director. “You believe he could be one of these blue collar bull riders who’s on the road 24/7 to make money. And he’s a fresh face. All those qualities really make him stand out.”
Wearing a white tee shirt and jeans, in costume as Luke and looking every inch the handsome, rugged cowboy; Eastwood sits down in a break from filming to talk aboutThe Longest Ride.
What attracted you to Luke and to the film?
‘I really dug that he is a bull rider. I have always thought the sport was pretty cool. I have a respect for those guys, and I like Luke. He is a no-nonsense kind of guy, a man of few words. He’s a hardworking, loyal, honest guy. That is the way my father raised me, to tell the truth and show up on time.’
Do you identify with Luke at all?
‘I do because I grew up in Northern California. Many people don’t know this, but it’s very rural and spread out with a lot of ranch land, and my dad has a big ranch there. I grew up riding horses and fishing. I am very much a country boy at heart, that’s where I’m happiest.’
Bull riding is dangerous and scary. Was that a concern at all?
‘That is exactly what appealed to me. I guess you could call me an adrenaline junkie. I love it and I think it’s awesome. It all comes down to eight seconds on the bull; there’s no fluff.’
What is it like working with George Tillman Jr.?
‘He’s a great director and he really drives the ship. There’s a lot of unspoken direction from George that I just get. He’ll give me a look and won’t even have to say much and then I just say ‘oh, I get what you want. I understand.’ He knows what he wants and when he gets it, he moves on.’
Do you think acting is in your DNA?
‘Oh I don't know. I always say this: I will never be the best actor out there, I just hope that I’m the hardest working one, the one who shows up and doesn't complain. Acting is great and I find it fulfilling and I hope people like working with me. But my identity isn’t wrapped up in it.More than anything, I am interested in making good films, whether I am a producer, a director, or an actor.’
What projects do you have coming up?
‘I am going to Germany for Snowden, an Oliver Stone movie with Joseph Gordon-Levitt about Edward Snowden. It is a top-secret script and it is exciting. Oliver Stone is a brilliant filmmaker; he’s an artist.’
What have you learned from working with your father over the years?
‘To listen and to tell the story through gesture. A lot of actors can get caught up in having to ‘do something’ all the time. But sometimes the simplest stuff is the most effective and the less wordy the better. My dad’s advice is: ‘’Follow your gut.’ He says the only person you can listen to is yourself. He also says: ‘Don’t ever believe your own hype because all this can go away just as quickly as it came.’
The Longest Ride is out now in cinemas across Dubai