Festival director Barry Rivers presented the pair their awards as part of the festival’s opening celebration. They were then interviewed onstage by Variety editor David S. Cohen before a full house at the “Celestial Cinema” outdoor theater at the Wailea Golf Club.
Eastwood proved somewhat laconic but quick with a quip, like his famous father, Clint. At 29, the younger Eastwood has already been making films for 13 years. “It’s been a helluva ride, it really has,” he said. “People don’t realize that you can make a film, and it may not be all that great of a film, but you have an amazing experience. … It’s always a great life experience.”
Palmer, who is more gregarious, recalled being randomly discovered by a teenaged Australian student filmmaker who was casting a film on youth suicide. “It premiered in 2006 at Cannes, and we had a standing ovation, and it completely changed my life. I thought I was going to have this experience and go back to working in retail.”
Both Palmer and Eastwood are transitioning from indies to major roles in high-budget studio films. Palmer called the upcoming “re-envisioning” of “Point Break,” in which she appears, “an homage to the beautiful original film, which I’m a huge fan of.” She said “it’s much more on an international scale; we filmed in 10 countries on four continents.”
But she said her own work on it “didn’t feel any different than doing a little independent Australian movie … I still had the same level of commitment. You just have to shut that out. You just have to remain focused on what you’re there to, which is tell the story of this particular character.
“I’ve learned in the last few years I just want to portray real,” she said. “If I can do a character that’s grounded in reality and find authenticity in her, then I feel like I’m doing my job.”
Of Warner’s “Suicide Squad,” Eastwood could say little, other than to say “I’m allowed to talk about the fact that I’m not allowed to talk about it.”
More generally, he said of big-budget studio films, “Sometimes … they want you to go there and hit your mark and say your lines, so you just have to do what you do and work with what they give you. You still have to be honest and do your best job.”
Asked if she had any heroes in the business, Palmer named one she had worked with: Christian Bale. “I felt like I was in acting school just being in scenes with him.
Eastwood thought carefully before discussing his own heroes. “I got one I can think of,” he quipped, before saying his real heroes are filmmakers. “Guys who are writer-directors like Quentin Tarantino and James Cameron, who have changed the history of the film business.”
Eastwood said his father’s advice, as he paid his dues in oddjobs and indies was: “Stick around. Stick around, because you just never know if it’s going to happen or if it’s not, and you’re going to have to go back to bartending or something.”
The opening night screenings, “Love and Mercy” and “Live From New York” unspooled following the Q&A, under intermittent drizzle that didn’t dampen filmgoers’ spirits.