Clint Eastwood honored with The Screen Actors Guild Life Achievement Award (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
Movies - TV
Pitching Once Upon A Time In The West To Clint Eastwood Didn't Go Well For Sergio Leone
Although Clint Eastwood’s part in the TV Western “Rawhide” made him known, his role in Sergio Leone’s “A Fistful of Dollars” launched Eastwood into stardom. The actor would continue to play the “Man With No Name” in the follow-up “Dollars Trilogy” films, with Leone then eyeing Eastwood for the role of the vengeful Harmonica in his new project, “Once Upon a Time in the West.”
However, Leone couldn’t sell the film’s pitch to Eastwood, particularly the opening sequence. According to Eastwood’s biography, “It took [Leone] fifteen minutes to get past that part,’ [Eastwood] says, and he remembers asking, ‘Wait a second, where are we heading with this?’ But Leone was not to be hurried, and continued his synopsis at his own overly detailed pace.”
Eastwood saw the film as “just another pasta dish,” where he would still be the poncho and the squint to the other more colorful characters, and the actor passed on the role. “Once Upon a Time in the West” would eventually find its Harmonica in Charles Bronson, who gave a bone-chilling presence to the character that Eastwood may not have been able to.