John Wayne and Clint Eastwood are two iconic actors, especially regarding westerns. Have you ever wondered how certain movies would have been if the actors had swapped places? As it turns out, that was almost the case for one of Eastwood’s most famous roles.
So, what was the role in question? None other than that of Dirty Harry. It’s been rumored for a long time John Wayne turned down the role of Dirty Harry and CBR recently set the record straight. To be specific, John Wayne turned down the part for Dirty Harry, not necessarily the Dirty Harry movies themselves.
It’s a little confusing, right? John Wayne turned down the part for Dirty Harry before he became the character we saw Eastwood portray in the movies. Warner Bros. approached other actors like Frank Sinatra and Robert Mitchum for the role, but they passed. Executives then had their eyes set on John Wayne and a quote from Michael Munn’s 2001 book John Wayne: The Man Behind The Myth explained him rejecting it.
“I turned it down for what seemed to me to be three very good reasons,” John Wayne stated. “The first is that they offered it to Frank Sinatra first, but he’d hurt his hand and couldn’t do it. I don’t like being offered Sinatra’s rejections. Put that one down to pride. The second reason is that I thought Harry was a rogue cop. Put that down to narrow-mindedness because when I saw the picture I realized that Harry was the kind of part I’d played often enough; a guy who lives within the law but breaks the rules when he really has to in order to save others.”
Interestingly, Wayne recalled the timeline incorrectly. Executives offered Sinatra the part for Dirty Harry, not Dead Right. Wayne was actually offered the role of Dirty Harry in Dead Right. In short, Wayne was misinformed. They offered him the part of Dirty Harry, but not in Dirty Harry.
Clint Eastwood Turned Down a James Bond Role
John Wayne isn’t the only actor who turned down what would become a legendary role. Clint Eastwood himself turned down a James Bond role and for a similar reason Wayne rejected Dirty Harry.
Daily Mail reported the news, saying Eastwood received an offer for the role shortly after Sean Connery walked out on it in 1867. At that time, Eastwood hadn’t really found his stride and become the successful actor we know today. He said his then-lawyer approached him with the news about the role, but he turned it down.
“He came and said, ‘They would love to have you,’” Eastwood recalled. “I was offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”
Eastwood saying no led producers to hire Australian actor George Lazenby as the new Bond.