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Author Topic: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS: Acting: 4. Alternate Casts  (Read 3732 times)
Matt
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« on: May 11, 2003, 11:57:19 PM »

Several other actors were considered for the role of the "Joe" (the "Man With No Name"), including Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Richard Harrison, and James Coburn. Charles Bronson regretted turning down the role, and later said:
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The script was so bad that I turned it down. It was just about the worst script I'd ever seen. What I didn't understand was that the script didn't make any difference. It was the way Leone was going to direct it that would make the difference. So Clint Eastwood got the part.
(Clint Eastwood, A Biography by Minty Clinch, p. 35-36)

Do you think any of these actors could have played the role as well as Eastwood did? Why or why not? How do you think the film would have been different with one of these actors in the role?
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Christopher
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2003, 09:47:51 AM »

I think with a more established star, the movie would have been a hit most likely. But since Eastwood wasn't a film star, and at the time people were only used to seeing him on Rawhide, there was probably an added mystery to his character. The world didn't know of Clint Eastwood until this movie.

Of those guys mentioned above, I could see Charles Bronson in the part the easiest. That's probably because I've seen more movies with Bronson in them than the others. Shoot, I don't even know who Richard Harrison is. Fonda and Coburn would have been able to play the part as well.
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KC
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2003, 07:34:22 PM »

Richard Harrison, an American expatriate actor who at the time was best known for sword-and-sandals roles, had starred in a couple of Italian Westerns made prior to Fistful. According to Schickel's Clint Eastwood (p. 131):

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Harrison already had a commitment for the spring of 1964, but he had seen Rawhide, liked Clint's work in it, and recommended him to Leone.
This anecdote has been frequently repeated (including in the IMDb), but its authenticity is questionable. Christopher Frayling reports (Sergio Leone: Something to Do with Death, p. 134) that Leone never considered Harrison for the part, although his producers, who had him under contract, wanted him for the part of Joe.
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But Leone turned him down: "Harrison cost only $20,000, but he still didn't appeal to me."
Leone had his heart set on an established American star ... besides the above-mentioned Fonda, Bronson and Coburn, Cliff Robertson was considered, and the producers thought of offering the part to Rod Cameron. Coburn (who wanted $25,000), Robertson and Cameron were too expensive, Bronson turned Leone down flat (as noted above), and Fonda's agent didn't bother to show his client the script.

According to Frayling, the tip to Leone about Eastwood came not from Harrison, but from Claudia Sartori, who worked in the William Morris Agency's Rome branch. She arranged a screening of a Rawhide episode for Leone, and when he reacted with "This man, with a vacant look on his face, in an unwatchable film about cows?" she retorted that he was on his way up in the U.S. ... and besides, he would take the job for $15,000. So, for a fistful of dollars, a star was born ... ;)

However that may be, Richard Harrison seems to have had a long and fruitful career, mainly in European-made Westerns and Hong Kong-produced kung fu movies, but I don't recall that I've ever seen him in anything. Anyone?
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Matt
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2003, 03:46:13 PM »

Thanks, everyone! This thread is now locked.  Please post any additional thoughts you have on this topic in the Western forum.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2011, 03:54:53 AM »

This topic has been temporarily unlocked.  Feel free to post any additional thoughts or discussion here.
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"Winners are simply willing to do what losers won't."
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« Reply #5 on: January 23, 2011, 10:41:26 PM »

Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson, Richard Harrison, and James Coburn of these actors I can only 'see' Bronson in the part.  Henry Fonda doesn't look the part IMO.   Coburn would have been a fair third choice.  Setting aside my feelings for Clint I felt he was the perfect choice.  Basically unknown, tall, mysterious and with little to say, he brought the part to life.  Bronson and Coburn would perhaps have not altered the script to reduce the words 'Joe' would use and the part would have been totally different.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2011, 01:27:35 AM »

Thanks, everyone! This thread is now locked.  Please post any additional thoughts you have on this topic in the Clint Eastwood Westerns forum.
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"Winners are simply willing to do what losers won't."
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