Clint Eastwood Choked Down 'Vile' Cigars For The Sake Of A Fistful Of Dollars

There are few cooler screen icons than Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name. The sneering hero of Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy" was quick with a gun, economical with words, and garbed in the most randomly natty getup audiences had ever seen in a Western.

Ask a fan of the films to name one defining piece of attire, and they'll most likely lead with the poncho —) though Leone's fondness for close-ups repeatedly drew our attention to that dust-beaten, leather-banded cowboy hat. Sartorially, the rest is pretty basic: spurred boots, sheepskin vest, and black jeans. It's the accouterments that complete the picture. The pistol, the holster, and those skinny cheroot cigars. Movies have always made smoking look entirely too cool, but Eastwood's gunfighter demanded something nasty clenched between his gritted teeth.

Leone was meticulous with his framing and mise en scène, but when he teamed with Clint Eastwood — a TV star via "Rawhide" who had yet to make an impression in movies — on "A Fistful of Dollars," he gave the actor free rein to assemble his character's costume. Eastwood did as asked, and aced the assignment. If Eastwood had to do it again, he might've chosen a different style of smoke.

A nasty cigar for a perpetually cheesed-off hero

In an interview with The Independent timed to the 20th anniversary of Leone's untimely passing in 1989, Eastwood opened up about his disdain for the cigars he made famous:

"I went out and bought a bunch of cigars that I thought would look good in a Western. I had no idea they'd taste so vile! But I brought those along with me and I gave them to props and we cut them all up. They were long cigars, called Virginia. I made a slew of them that I carried around in my pocket: different lengths to match up with different scenes."

Like many fans of Leone and Eastwood, I once tracked down and fired up a Virgina cheroot, and it truly is the ideal cigar for a man who seems to hate everything and everybody. They're rough and so malodorous, the only reason I could conceive of smoking them regularly would be to repel human contact. Having to suck on those monstrosities throughout the shooting of three movies is a ghastly thought.

Eastwood didn't smoke them for long. Outside of films, he abstains from smoking altogether, which is probably a significant reason why he's still kicking around at the age of 92. If inspiring impressionable young kids to try the nastiest cigar on the planet was a stealth anti-smoking effort, well played, Clint.