Kim Kardashian … Coco … Clint Eastwood?
When news first surfaced that Dina Eastwood, the considerably younger (46) second wife of Clint Eastwood (81), had convinced Dirty Harry himself to slum it on an E! reality show, the Internet vultures descended.
“If the show doesn’t succeed, then Clint becomes the senile old bastard for indulging Dina, who could be perceived as a gold-digging, attention-mongering albatross, not content with mere fundraisers and awards shows,” wrote Forbes.
What those knee-jerk critics failed to realize, however, is that Mrs. Eastwood & Company, which premieres May 20, is not about Mr. Eastwood. He appears in only two episodes—one involving a family dinner, the other the wedding of Dina’s friend. In fact, during principal photography on Mrs. Eastwood & Company, Mr. Eastwood was down in Atlanta shooting the film Trouble with the Curve, where he acts—not directs—alongside Justin Timberlake and Amy Adams. So even those two cameos were tough to come by.
“Yeah, I had to twist his arm, you bet,” says Dina in an interview with The Daily Beast. “I would never want to put Clint’s career in jeopardy. That’s my worst nightmare. But Clint is untouchable.” She adds, “I’ve read so many mean things about me, and I think it’s entertaining because the Internet brings out the worst in people a lot of times.”
Rather, the show centers on Dina, who’s been married to Clint Eastwood since 1996, as she raises the couple’s precocious 15-year-old daughter, Morgan, as well as Eastwood’s daughter with the actress Frances Fisher, the more rebellious Francesca, 18. The family lives in a modest—by Hollywood-royalty standards—home in Carmel, Calif., that also hosts about 30 pets, including tortoises, bunnies, cockatoos, and a gigantic pig.
And Dina is the master of ceremonies, managing the crazy household with great aplomb and plenty of humor. When Morgan expresses her desire to get a belly-button ring in the show’s premiere episode, Dina goes out and gets one herself just to prove how ridiculous it looks.
“She’s crazy, wild, and hilarious,” says Francesca. “She’s sort of the opposite of my dad, who’s very calm, so they really balance each other out well.”
The initial motivation behind the reality show was for it to serve as a platform to launch the South African a cappella boy band Overtone, which Dina discovered in 2009 while her husband was filming Invictus (they ended up performing the bulk of the movie’s soundtrack), in the States. Describing them as in the same vein of boy bands One Direction and The Wanted, Dina—who now manages the group—thought it was so “adorable and chaotic” that the South African band seemed like fishes out of water in America, and decided to hire an out-of-work director-friend to film their escapades. It took about a year and a half of her shopping pilots around before she landed a deal with the production company Bunim-Murray, which produces all the Kardashian shows, as well as The Real World and Bad Girls Club. Then, the production company said the show needed more girls, and Dina suggested her daughter and stepdaughter. The company loved them.
“I thought it was a fun idea—this nonexperienced housewife managing this boy band, and it turned into something different,” she says.
Dina Ruiz met Clint Eastwood in March 1993, when she interviewed him for a segment while working as a reporter for KNAZ-TV in Flagstaff, Ariz. They were both in relationships, but Dina came away impressed by Eastwood, who “was 63 at the time yet how I imagined 40-year-olds would be.” Over the course of the next year, the two crossed paths at several nonprofit events. One day, a fundraiser representative came over to Dina and asked her if a man could occupy the empty seat next to her. She was annoyed until she looked up and saw Clint. He sat down and, according to Dina, they were holding hands under the table within minutes. He asked for her phone number and just like that, the two began dating.
They married at a private ceremony at a home in Las Vegas on March 31, 1996, and their daughter, Morgan, was born nine months later. As to how she’s managed to tame Eastwood, who’s fathered seven children with five different women, Dina laughs.
“There was no taming to be done!” she says. “We’ve had a zero-resistance relationship—no drama. We were naturally drawn to each other and have never broken up or had affairs.”
She adds: “People would be surprised by how gentle and sweet he is; how much time he spends petting our animals, or taking a bee out of the pool, or making sure that the bird’s nest that he finds in the tree is undisturbed. He and nature coexist so beautifully, and he’s just a big love bug.” She pauses. “He’s a snuggler.”
One mishap that occurred while filming the reality show, however, caused Dina to fear for her marriage. While Dina was in Las Vegas trying to secure a manager for Overtone, she left the family’s four-day-old Mercedes running in the parking lot. One of the members of the band, who’d been in the U.S. for only four days, hopped into the driver’s seat to snap a picture. The car jumped the curb and crashed through the storefront.
“I was terrified of Clint at that point!” she exclaims. “I thought my marriage was over. I called him and calmly explained I’d be on the next flight home and would call the whole Overtone thing off, but he was great. He had it towed and had his production company bring us another rental. That’s how sweet the guy is.”
Dina, however, didn’t play it as cool when a conflict arose between her and Francesca’s decade-older boyfriend, celebrity photographer Tyler Shields. An incident occurred involving Tyler where a kid, according to Dina, received a bloody nose. Dina lost it and exploded on Tyler, all while the cameras were rolling.
“It’s probably one of the most dramatic things that’s happened in my life, my mother and the guy I love fighting,” says Francesca. “It will be a really crazy episode, but it’s resolved now.”
As far as the future of Mrs. Eastwood & Company is concerned, Dina and costars are signed on for, according to Dina, “a few seasons.” While the family differs from the one documented in their lead-in, Keeping Up with the Kardashians—“We don’t live like they do … we shot a couple episodes at Marshalls,” she says—Dina is hoping that the show strikes a similar chord with the American public.
“I want my band to be exposed, and I want people to have a good time getting to know us,” she says, with a nervous laugh. “I just hope they’re entertained!”