Don’t just do something, stand there.
A truly good man does nothing,
Yet leaves nothing undone.
A foolish man is always doing,
Yet much remains to be done.
If there is one physical quality that defines Clint Eastwood, it’s his ominous, squinty eyed stare. Where other players may need to act or speak, Clint can simply glare. There is little doubt you understand how he’s feeling, even without the words.
One of the foundations of Taoism is the concept of Wu Wei. It literally means “not doing.” It is also often expressed as Wei Wu Wei, “doing not doing.”
Wu Wei is the natural, effortless flow of action. It is your spontaneous, unthinking reaction to your surroundings and the situation at hand. So, it’s not to say that the “Good man does nothing,” it’s just that what he does do is so pure to his nature, it is as if it is being done through him and not by him.
One of Eastwood’s early acting influences taught the idea that you don’t need to force a scene by “doing something.” You do not need to fill the void with unnecessary action in order to convey meaning.
Many of Mr. Eastwood’s characters embody this quality. There is always a quiet, deliberate pause, to squint for a moment or spit, perhaps, before making a move.
Right, wrong or indifferent, these characters simply do what they need to do; even if it is to sit in a dusty saloon in silence and wait.—