In the late 1960s, Western megastar Clint Eastwood was pegged to take over as 007. But instead of joining the franchise, he made a spy flick of his own.
The proposition came after Sean Connery temporarily retired from the role in 1967. With Connery gone, the producers began the hunt for a long-term replacement. And that led them to both Eastwood and Burt Reynolds, who were both famous for playing cowboys—not spies.
Nonetheless, the franchise ended up asking Clint Eastwood to play James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. At the time, Eastwood hadn’t become as famous as he is today. So accepting the role would have been a career-changing move. But despite that, the actor turned down the major opportunity.
According to Daily Mail, the Unforgiven actor thought Sean Connery belonged in the film, and there was no way that Eastwood could step into his shadow.
In 2010, Clint Eastwood said that his then-lawyer approached him with the job offer and told him that the 007 producers “would love” to have him.
“I was offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role,” he said. ” 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.’
Unfortunately, Connery did not return for the film after Eastwood turned it down though. At the time, Connery was worried about being typecasted out of Hollywood, and he was unhappy with his pay. So instead, George Lazenby took his place. But the movie was his only gig in the franchise.
Sean Connery did return to his 007 role in 1971 for Diamonds are Forever and then again in 1983 for Never Say Never Again. And to this day, most people argue that he was the best Bond actor of all time.
Clint Eastwood Tried His Hand at the Spy Genre in ‘The Eiger Sanction’
Not long after passing on the Bond franchise, Clint Eastwood tried his hand at the spy genre when he directed and starred in The Eiger Sanction.
Like James Bond, The Eiger Sanction was also based on a hit novel. In it, Eastwood plays the part of Hemlock, a retired assassin turned art history professor who gets back into the business after his friend is murdered.
Hemlock then returns to his old spy agency to hunt down a mysterious mountain climbing killer in Switzerland. The spy goes through major training to be able to scale mountains and follow the killer. And on the way, he romances a few ladies while escaping various assassination attempts.
Despite the fact that it sounds exactly like a James Bond story, the movie didn’t do well. But Cint Eastwood still found his place in Hollywood. At 82 years old, the star holds four Academy Awards, which means he’s tied with Laurence Olivier and Katharine Hepburn as the most Oscar-winning actor of all time.