HOLLYWOOD - OCTOBER 03:  ***EXCLUSIVE ACCESS***  Actor/director Clint Eastwood presents the film "Unforgiven" at AFI's 40th Anniversary celebration presented by Target held at Arclight Cinemas on October 3, 2007 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Katy Winn/Getty Images for AFI)
Movies - TV
Clint Eastwood's Most Famous Unforgiven Line Needed A Small-But-Crucial Rewrite
Clint Eastwood’s 1992 “Unforgiven” was a breath of fresh air for Westerns with its dark subversion of classic archetypes, which demystified the genre in an engaging and intense story. However, there are moments in the film that feel reminiscent of older Westerns, such as one of the more famous lines that was rewritten in a small but critical way, changing its context.
After the climactic shootout, a dying Little Bill (Gene Hackman) says he didn’t deserve this fate, only to hear Will Munny (Eastwood) respond, “Deserve’s got nothing to do with it.” David Peoples, the “Unforgiven” screenwriter, shared that the original line was “Deserve don’t mean s***,” but Eastwood rewrote it, with Peoples explaining, “He changed it because he said it sounded too modern.”
While the original line would have further solidified the film’s tone and nihilistic message, Eastwood chose a line that reaffirmed the film’s overall message and evoked the old Western myths and heroes. Peoples expressed his respect for the director, saying, “In Hollywood, people tend to write things until they get really bad [...] But he [Eastwood] doesn't rewrite things to death.”