Clint Eastwood’s Most Important Film Of His Career Was Nothing More Than A Paid Vacation For The Star


Clint Eastwood faced the struggles of launching a career like any other actor in Hollywood. One of the greatest actors and directors in the industry, Eastwood got his first glimmer of hope with the 1958 television series, Rawhide. The Oscar-winning director was cast alongside Eric Fleming in the Western drama for eight seasons until 1965. While filming, Eric Fleming was approached for a movie produced in Spain and Italy, helmed by a then-relatively unknown director, Sergio Leone.

Fleming passed on the role, and his co-star, Eastwood, went on to take up the role after actor Richard Harrison recommended him to Leone. The role in the film A Fistful of Dollars would ultimately make the Dirty Harry actor the biggest star in the industry.

Clint Eastwood Was Not So Confident About His Most Important Film

In 2008, Clint Eastwood appeared in an interview with EW and spoke about the influences on his career. The Unforgiven actor listed Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo as one of the influences. A Fistful of Dollars was inspired by Yojimbo; however, Toho, who produced the Kurosawa film, later sued the Leone film for ripping off their work. Eastwood had watched Yojimbo years before Leone’s script came to him, and he had been inspired by the film ever since.

However, the Escape from Alcatraz actor admitted that he was not initially confident about the film. When traveling to Italy for filming, The Mule actor thought that even if the film failed, he would have at least got a paid vacation. Eastwood shared with EW:

“I figured if it flopped, no one was going to see it over here, and at least I’d get a paid trip to Italy and Spain. I remember seeing Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, [which it was based on], and I thought, ‘God, this thing would make a great Western if someone only had the nerve to do it.’”


A Fistful of Dollars initially received negative reviews from Italian critics, where the film was released three years prior to its American release. However, the film gained a retrospective cult following, winning over the critics and launching Eastwood’s career.

A Fistful of Dollars Was A Turning Point In Clint Eastwood’s Career

Clint Eastwood was a relatively unknown actor and Sergio Leone was also a stranger to American films. Leone wanted a bigger American star in the film, but none of them were willing to take up the ‘risky’ script and the Italian production. A Fistful of Dollars was nothing like the films that the American audience was accustomed to, as the main protagonist was an anti-hero, and the film was filled with violent scenes. The film also served as a teaching lesson for directors on visual filmmaking.

The film spawned two sequels, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, collectively known as the Dollars trilogy. The Gran Torino actor was cast as a nameless character, later hailed by the media as the Man With No Name. Eastwood became a symbol of masculinity, especially among Western audiences. The Rookie actor continued with roles along similar lines of the masculine anti-hero, including the Dirty Harry films.

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