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Clint Eastwood Passed on Playing Some Iconic Characters

Clint Eastwood Passed on Playing Some Iconic Characters


  • Clint Eastwood’s selective approach to roles has defined his legacy in Hollywood over his long career.
  • The actor turned down iconic roles like James Bond and Superman to focus on grounded, realistic characters.
  • By choosing roles carefully, Eastwood has solidified himself as a respected and dignified actor in the industry.

Clint Eastwood has a moderately small filmography despite his 60+ years in the industry, with 72 acting credits and 46 directing credits; his upcoming film Juror #2 is the 96-year-old’s last film before retirement. Considering that Clint Eastwood has been working since 1955, this amount is small compared to other actors, but one of the main reasons is that Eastwood picks his roles and only takes on projects that suit him.

This has led to Clint Eastwood turning down various roles throughout his career, roles that, for others, have come to define their name in Hollywood and pop culture. We will examine what roles have defined Clint Eastwood, what roles he passed on, and why that has only solidified his legacy.

Clint Eastwood Has Played Many Iconic Roles

It would not be easy to summarize the career of Clint Eastwood in a single role. While the actor has always aimed for roles steeped in realism and suiting his passions, he has excelled in the Western genre from his first major role in 1964’s A Fist Full of Dollars to 1992’s standout Unforgiven. He solidified the image of a dirty cop with Dirty Harry and starred in one of the greatest escape stories ever in Escape from Alcatraz His later career saw him redefine himself as a staple of morality in a decaying society in Gran Torino and as a passionate mentor in Million Dollar Baby.

Eastwood has also established himself as a director, having helmed many of the previously mentioned films, many of which were met with critical acclaim. This includes Million Dollar Baby, which saw him win both Best Motion Picture of the Year and Best Achievement in Directing at the Academy Awards; he would also win Best Picture in 1993 for Unforgiven and was the recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1995. Whether as an actor or a director, Eastwood has made the most of his career, even if he did turn down other roles that would become definitive for other actors.

Clint Eastwood Turned Down Many Opportunities

Clint Eastwood has turned down roles in many films and franchises that would go on to become classics. One of the most notable offers was to fill the shoes of Sean Connery as James Bond after he exited the role after 1967’s You Only Live Twice. While Connery did reprise his part as the suave agent, George Lazenby would take on the part in 1969s Her Majesty’s Secret Service, in which Eastwood could have starred. Clint Eastwood felt that Ian Flemming’s Bond was a British icon and that the role was best served to go to an actor from there; “I thought James Bond should be British.” He added, “To me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”

The other iconic role that Clint Eastwood turned down was a request by the president of Warner Bros. to play the role of Superman. Eastwood ultimately decided that taking the role would cause him to be typecast. In addition, Clint Eastwood stated he wanted to play only roles grounded in reality, acknowledging it was a good role but not one for him; “Superman? Nah, nah, that’s not for me.”

Of course, Eastwood was one of many actors turning down the role along with the likes of Burt Reynolds, Steve McQueen, Nick Nolte, James Caan, Jon Voight, Sam Elliot, and Charles Bronson. DC apparently had Dustin Hoffman or Robert Redford in mind, but neither was approached, and Harrison Ford has claimed he was considered before the casting of Christopher Reeve.


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Clint Eastwood has always been very straightforward with his speech and his sentiments, and there have also been cases of him turning down roles for personal reasons. This does present what may be the biggest role he has ever turned down when Francis Ford Coppola approached him to play Captain Benjamin L. Willard in Apocalypse Now, which would eventually go to Martin Sheen. Eastwood’s reason for not taking the part? He did not want to spend 16 weeks in the Philippines.

Clint Eastwood’s Choosing His Roles has Only Helped his Legacy

While it may be odd to say that turning down some roles becomes definitive for others, this certainly works in favor of certain actors. You can look at performers like Tilda Swinton, Tom Hardy, or Ralph Fieness, who have been overly particular about the films they will star in and have become respected and dignified actors. With these actors, and Clint Eastwood, a production with their name on it, audiences can expect a certain degree of quality or at least experience a role perfectly suited to their abilities.


Clint Eastwood’s Highest-Rated Movie Is Actually a Remake

Clint Eastwood’s highest-rated movie set a new standard for the Western genre, but it was a remake that caused problems for the film’s release.

In Clint Eastwood’s case, he chose not to turn down the movies because he felt they were particularly bad but rather because he was not the right fit for the roles (or, in some cases, did not want to). The prospect of a Clint Eastwood-led Superman is certainly exciting, but whether he would be good in that role is uncertain. When looking at the career of Clint Eastwood, every project he was involved in seems very tailored to the image of who he is, and that would have been drastically different if the world also saw him as Superman or James Bond, who are drastically different ‘heroes’ to those he has played throughout his career. Clint Eastwood has been in the right roles, as determined by him, throughout his career, making him a more defined and distinguished cinematic icon.

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