Old School Americana & Nostalgia


Clint Eastwood Once Said a Role in This Iconic Film Would Have Driven Him ‘Insane’

Clint Eastwood Once Said a Role in This Iconic Film Would Have Driven Him ‘Insane’

Clint Eastwood has proven to be one of Hollywood’s most bankable actors and directors, but even he has his limits. Movies like Unforgiven, Gran Torino, and Dirty Harry have Eastwood’s imprints on them. They were solid box office winners and just add to his amazing resume. Yet there are limits to his creative endeavors and Eastwood hit his limit with another movie.

At one point, Eastwood listened to director Francis Ford Coppola who was working on a new project. Coppola had an idea to take a book called Heart of Darkness and attach its backstory to the Vietnam War. This was a very deep, meaningful project for Coppola to do.

What this turned into was Apocalypse Now, which starred Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, and Dennis Hopper. Before filming started, though, Eastwood received a recommendation for a role in it. This came from his friend, Steve McQueen. Let’s let Eastwood pick up the story as he discusses some issues he had with the movie.

Clint Eastwood Points Out Issues With Movie

“There were also several other problems,” Eastwood said in a 1992 interview with Rolling Stone. “Francis had been talking to Steve McQueen, and Steve had then recommended me. Steve wanted me to play Willard, so he could play Kurtz. I said, ‘Steve, I thought they wanted you for Willard.’ And he said, ‘Well, I want to play Kurtz.’

“I said, ‘Why?’” Eastwood asked. “He said, ‘Because I can do it in two weeks!’ I said, ‘That’s great, but what makes you think I want to work for all this time?’”

While this was all going on, Eastwood had just bought a house for his family to live in at the time. The actor had some young children to raise as well. When Eastwood got a call from Coppola who said they were going to film in the Philippines for 16 weeks, that was enough.

“It was just too long,” Eastwood said. “If it were eight weeks, I would have done it. And I said I didn’t understand the ending. He said they were going to work on that. But anyway, two years later they were still shooting, and Martin Sheen had had a heart attack, and I thought: ‘Goddamn! That could be all of us!’ I saw the documentary [Hearts of Darkness], and it was terribly amusing. Francis is a nice guy and everything, but two years — I would have gone insane!”

Long Commitment To Film Didn’t Sit Too Well

Besides the time commitment Eastwood has been asked to make, he’s not a guy who likes to waste time on movie sets. Eastwood is known to like “one takes” for his movies. Imagine him spending all that time on Apocalypse Now and dealing with all that time away from his family.

As it was, Coppola’s film epic initially had some people scratching their heads. Over the years, though, since its 1979 release, Apocalypse Now has been received well by moviegoers. Fans who rank this movie on IMDb have given it 8.4 out of 10 stars.

Eastwood might have wanted to play Kurtz, which eventually went to Brando. And Brando’s interpretation of the character has come under scrutiny for a long, long time. It would have been interesting to see how Eastwood would have played this integral part.