The iconic star is back on TV screens this afternoon in the gritty The Eiger Sanction, playing a suave art dealer who poses as an assassin. The classic dual-identity thriller is a tantalizing glimpse into what Eastwood could have done with two of the greatest roles of all time, both centering on a secret identity. The actor looked back on his career and shared his reasons for turning down both — and, refreshingly in an industry with so many missed opportunities or bad decisions, his complete lack of regret. He also added dryly, “That was a long time ago. I was a little more pumped up.”
Eastwood said: “I remember – and it 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 that. 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 comic books and his favorite character is Marvel’s Namor: “The Sub-Mariner, it is the one I’ve always loved. I had all these comics when I was a kid.”
When Superman finally hit the big screen with Christopher Reeve, Eastwood was enjoying major success away from his cowboy and cop projects with the lighthearted Every Which Way But Loose (alongside the orangutan Clyde).
But, then and later, her main reservation (apart from the tights) had been that such a role risked eclipsing an entire career.
He said: “That was part of the consideration, a big part. Look at Reeve, he was excellent. That was a big factor. You get a role like that, and it locks you in a bit.
“It’s true, I had the western genre and the Dirty Harry role, but everyone was doing westerns and doing cop movies; they didn’t seem as bad.”
The star also explained that he confessed he preferred more serious roles, but with a large dose of superhuman flair.
Eastwood told the LA Times: “I’ve always liked characters who were more grounded in reality. Maybe they do great things or more than human things – like Dirty Harry, he has a knack for do crazy things, or western guys – but, yet, they’re not caped crusaders.”
Which still doesn’t explain why he also rejected probably the most iconic franchise in Hollywood history.
When Sean Connery announced he was leaving James Bond after You Only Live Twice in 1967, EON and producer Albert Broccoli came calling, with Eastwood high on the list to replicate their leader’s tough physique and animalistic magnetism.
The actor revealed, “I was also offered a nice amount of money to do James Bond if I took the part. That was after Sean Connery left. My lawyer was representing the Broccoli and he came and said, ‘They’d love to have you.'”
Eastwood said he didn’t turn it down this time out of fear of being typecast, or because it wasn’t his kind of movie: “To me, well, it was somebody’s gig. ‘other. It’s Sean’s contract. It didn’t feel right for me to do it.”
Ultimately, notoriously, George Lazenby stepped in for a film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, before shockingly quitting, partly out of fear of typography and an inflated sense of his own career prospects.
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