Douglas Thmopson - Author and International Journalist

'It's not a stretch,' he says in that confident and comfortable drawl. 'I can understand the emotions of the piece. After a time people perceive you as a one dimensional sort of character but we grow, we change.'

He's changed. He is a grandfather and last year became a father again when his partner, the actress Frances Fisher, gave birth to a daughter who they named Francesca after the character from 'The Bridges of Madison County.' It seems a New Man sort of situation. But Eastwood will have none of that nonsense. 'It's a nice name -- we had to call her something!'

He has two grown children, Alison and Kyle, from his marriage to his only wife Maggie. He had a 13-year relationship with the actress Sondra Locke but that ended in acrimony and the Californian courts in 1989. She made severe allegations that Eastwood had forced her to have abortions and be sterilised. The mess appeared to have been concluded with a multi-million dollar settlement.

But just as the romantic 'Bridges of Madison County' concluded filming in Madison County, Iowa, -- Kincaid is sent there on assignment to photograph the bridges of the region -- Ms Locke,47, interrupted Eastwood's life again.

She claims in a lawsuit filed this month (January)in Los Angeles Superior Court that Warner Brothers film studios, Eastwood's longtime 'home', were involved in fraud and breach of contract over the financial arrangements agreed after she and the film star separated. Her lawsuit which works out at Sterling 25 million pounds maintains that she was the victim of a 'sweetheart deal.'

Instead of receiving Sterling 16 million pounds she says it was reduced to a token sum and that her three-year acting and production contract with Warners came to nothing. Every project she put forward was rejected.

The millions she was widely reported to have received in fact amounted to a quarter of a million pounds and Sterling 70,000 pounds in legal fees. The gravy was the Warner Studios contract which she now insists has added up to nothing.

Eastwood will not now be drawn on the Sondra Locke issue. When she first tangled him in that spaghetti of paperwork in Los Angeles Superior Court he did offer:' I felt so disappointed -- and the disappointment was with myself. How could I spend so many years with Sondra? How could I have been such a bad judge of character?

'It's not at all classy. At some point a person has to make up their minds whether they want to be a film director or an ex-girlfriend. I gather the people who advised her thought I would be brought to my knees by some public humiliation. Well, they didn't read me right. They misread me by thinking that making false statements would flush me into some giveaway programme.'

Eastwood has never given away anything. He's worked hard and long for his success but he's always been willing to take a risk. And, because of his phenomenal success with action/ adventure films Warner Brothers have been happy to indulge him in projects like 1988's 'Bird' in which he told the story of jazzman Charlie 'Yardbird'

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