Clint Eastwood Played Hard To Get With His The Good, The Bad And The Ugly Casting

Before Clint Eastwood was the guy talking to a chair he was pretending Obama was sitting in, he was one of the most sought-after men in Hollywood. Not only is Eastwood a great actor, but he's a very talented director as well, having directed and starred in such movies as "Unforgiven" and "Gran Torino."

The first real star-making roles Eastwood took were in legendary Italian director Sergio Leone's trilogy of Westerns, known as the "Dollars Trilogy." He played the Man with No Name in "A Fistful of Dollars" in 1964, and again in "For a Few Dollars More" the next year. After the success of these two films, Eastwood felt his stock as an actor was rising, so he had more leverage negotiating for the third film in the trilogy, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."

"The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" revolves around three very different cowboys (the titular, "good," "bad," and "ugly") all competing to find the same hidden stash of Confederate gold. Of course, the three get mixed up in multiple gunfights and confrontations on their path to the treasure, including a remarkable bridge explosion.

Eastwood's character, "the good," is unquestionably the leading man and protagonist of the film. But according to Patrick McGilligan's book "Clint," Eastwood was afraid of being upstaged by his new co-stars and was uncertain whether he'd want to sign onto the third film in the trilogy.


Sergio Leone, the director Eastwood was working with, was quite a legend in his own right. He is sometimes credited as the pioneer of the "Spaghetti Western," an Italian riff on the genre originally conceived in Hollywood. But Eastwood wasn't afraid to play hard to get with a pioneer of the genre.

According to the book, Eastwood took specific issue with becoming one of three main stars. "In the first film, I was alone. In the second, we were two. Here we are three," said the actor. "If it goes on this way, in the next one I will be starring with the American cavalry."

But Leone, used to dealing with diva actors, assured Eastwood he'd be the star. "Even if Marlon Brando were to play that role he would actually be working for you when you are not physically on the screen."

Despite these reassurances, Eastwood briefly broke off negotiations, a move his publicist urged him to reconsider. Ultimately, the first two films of the trilogy had not yet been released in the United States at the time, so Eastwood had no guarantee of getting work in the States unless he committed to the trilogy. So in exchange for $250,000 and a new Ferrari, they managed to secure Eastwood for the film.

Leone did not lie to Eastwood, as he was unquestionably the star and the most successful of the film's three leads (as well as managed to avoid not almost dying on set, like one of the others). Leone was finished with Westerns at this point, according to a 1984 interview, and went on to make many other great films.

Despite his resistance, "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" was a star-making turn for Eastwood, securing him a place in Hollywood for the rest of his long life.