Clint Eastwood is happy to have turned down two of the biggest roles in Hollywood

The star’s extraordinary Hollywood career is examined tomorrow in Clint Eastwood: A Life in Film on Sky Documentaries. He is also an Oscar-winning director and an acclaimed composer and lyricist. It’s hard to imagine Cool Hand Luke ever losing trust in him, even as he turned down two of the big screen’s biggest and most iconic roles outright. In later years, the actor shared his reasons for turning down both and, refreshingly in an industry with so many missed opportunities or bad decisions, his utter lack of regret. He also added dryly, “That was a long time ago. I was a little more excited.”

Eastwood said: “I can remember, and this was many years ago, when [Warner Bros. President] Frank Wells came to me to do Superman. So it could have happened. That’s when they started thinking about doing it.

“I was like, ‘Superman? No, no, that’s not for me.” Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s for someone, but not for me.”

However, the Hollywood tough guy had no problem with the genre and happily revealed his own love of comics and his favorite character is Marvel’s Namor: “The Sub-Mariner, that’s the one I always liked. He had all those comics when he was a kid.”

Even so, Eastwood happily admitted that his reason for turning down the role was also motivated by protecting his own career.

When Superman finally made it to the big screen with Christopher Reeve, Eastwood was enjoying great success away from his cowboy and cop projects with the light-hearted Every Which Way But Loose (opposite orangutan Clyde).

But, at the time and later, her main reservation (apart from the stockings) had been that any role like that risked eclipsing an entire career.

He said, “That was part of the consideration, a big part. Look at Reeve, he was terrific. That was a big factor. You get a role like that and it kind of locks you in. True, he had the western.” and the role of Dirty Harry, but everyone was doing westerns and cop movies; They didn’t look so bad.”

Eastwood said he didn’t turn down the offer out of fear of being typecast this time around, or because it wasn’t his kind of movie: “For me, well, that was someone else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right to me. to be doing it.”

Sean Connery had announced he was stepping back from James Bond after 1967’s You Only Live Twice. George Lazenby notoriously starred in one film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, before surprisingly quitting, partly out of fear of being typecast and an inflated sense of of their own career prospects.

Five decades later, when screenwriter Derek Kolstad originally penned John Wick, the plan was for the retired assassin to actually be of retirement age. Details were revealed in Edward Gross and Mark A Altman’s book They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action.

In it, franchise producer Basil Iwanyk said: “The lead was a 75-year-old man, twenty-five years out of retirement. It was fun to watch Clint Eastwood kick ass.

“I thought, ‘Okay, there are probably one or two names you could do this with: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford.’ Other than that, I’m not sure how I put this movie together. But the tone of the John Wick script was subversive. and really funny. It has a very clear emotional line and a great premise for an action movie.”

It’s a tempting thought, but then Keanu Reeves came on the scene and the rest is history.

That’s unlikely to make Clint lose his cool either…

Clint Eastwood: A Life in Film is on Sky Documentaries at 11am on January 15

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