Clint Eastwood’s Arch-Nemesis Almost Snatched Legendary Actor’s Most Iconic Role Because Of His Massive Ego That Involved Frank Sinatra


Clint Eastwood and John Wayne are considered two pillars of the Western genre in Hollywood. The two stars have endless contributions to the genre and gave us some of the iconic movies of all time. However, the two stars didn’t share a very good history. There was a no-so-healthy rivalry between the two Western legends which also became ugly at times and John Wayne’s massive ego played a large role in it.

Although John Wayne was one of the biggest competitors of Clint Eastwood, he is responsible for one of the latter’s iconic roles in Hollywood which made him a superstar. The Dirty Harry film series had Wayne’s name attached to it along with a list of other stars before Eastwood entered the picture and made Harry Callahan a prominent name in his career.

How did John Wayne lose Dirty Harry to Clint Eastwood?

The Dirty Harry film series along with the Dollars Trilogy made Clint Eastwood an International name. But it is noteworthy that Harry Callahan didn’t have the “Man with No Name” actor since the first and made several rounds to the tables of several renowned stars like Frank Sinatra, John Wayne, and Steve McQueen.

Wayne almost snatched the role before his massive ego played its part and he didn’t want to play a role that was turned down by Frank Sinatra. According to his biography John Wayne: The Man Behind the Myth, the Stagecoach actor didn’t feel it right to take a role rejected by Sinatra. But anybody could agree that it was not a fair decision on his part and very soon, John Wayne accepted it as well.

As reported by the Express, the actor later regretted his decision to turn the movie down- “I made a mistake with that one”. Later the movie director Don Siegel also admitted that the movie wouldn’t have been the same with John Wayne as the latter was more concerned about his image, unlike Clint Eastwood. He said to Movies!TV Network:


“He was just too old, and he would have objected to many of the things that Clint would do because Clint was never bothered by image. Wayne was.”

But this was not the first time Wayne’s ego played a role in his career. The Duke has often shown a strong feeling of distaste for Clint Eastwood and tried to prove him incapable in the genre.

John Wayne disregarded Clint Eastwood’s contribution to the Western genre

There was also a time when Clint Eastwood considered collaborating with his rival on a project titled The Hostiles. When The Duke was sent a proposal by Eastwood, he not only denied the part but also wrote how the latter’s High Plains Drifter didn’t depict the Western genre accurately- “it wasn’t really about the people who pioneered the West”. The remarks were quite contrary to the others who critically praised the movie.

Later, the American Sniper director also defended his High Plains Drifter where he admitted that there was a generational gap between the two actors. In his book Ride, Boldly Ride: The Evolution of the American Western (via Collider), Eastwood stated:

“High Plains Drifter was meant to be a fable. It wasn’t meant to show the hours of pioneering drudgery. It wasn’t supposed to be anything about settling the west.”

We can spot a contrast in the style of movies between the two actors. John Wayne wasn’t a fan of the gritty violence and language that we can spot in later Western movies. It looks like The Duke didn’t find himself comfortable with the transition that the Western movies went through.