6 Movies That Wouldn’t Exist if Clint Eastwood Had Played James Bond

Clint Eastwood was reportedly offered the roles of Superman and James Bond. Film history could have gone so differently than it did.
Clint Eastwood James Bond Sudden Impact
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on September 8th, 2010

It’s a miracle that any movie gets made at all. Even after the green light is given, schedules and budgets have to work out, mechanical sharks have to stay operational, and the weather has to play nice. Plus, there are a million other pieces that have to fall into place just right or the whole thing could be off. The film geek news of the week is that Clint Eastwood was offered the roles of Superman and James Bond, which is incredibly cool, but it would have created a far different career for the man.

It may have changed his trajectory completely, but if he’d accepted the Bond role, there are at least six films that either wouldn’t have been made or wouldn’t have been the same without him. Assuming that Eastwood was offered the Bond role post-Sean Connery (and post-Lazenby since no one remembers him anyway), that would have given him Roger Moore’s career. This hypothetical assumes that Eastwood might have been good in the role and found the type of success that Moore did with the character, and even if that’s unlikely, it still makes for one hell of an alternate history.

Here are the six films that wouldn’t exist.

High Plains Drifter

With a demanding schedule of loving up Jane Seymour and unsuccessfully dodging black stereotypes for the production of Live and Let Die, it’s unlikely that Eastwood would have been able to shoot the brilliant, supernatural Western film High Plains Drifter for release in 1973. Since it was shot in a mere six weeks, there’s a chance, but it’s unlikely. The world would have missed out on one of the best roles ever played by the Western icon and one of his earliest directorial achievements.

The Gauntlet

The world would have most likely seen Magnum Force and Thunderbolt and Lightfoot because the shooting schedule for The Man With the Golden Gun would have threaded the needle of both productions, but the world would have missed out on The Gauntlet for sure. Eastwood, now building a career as 007, would have been too busy driving his Lotus Espirit underwater in The Spy Who Loved Me to run from Las Vegas to Phoenix with Sondra Locke.

This also begs the question as to whether there ever would have been a remake of The Gauntlet – meaning that 16 Blocks might never have existed either. Sadly, the world would have missed out on another alcoholic-cop performance from Eastwood (and possibly Bruce Willis teaming with Mos Def years later).

Escape From Alcatraz

What a brilliant movie. Too bad it wouldn’t have been made (or they would have cast Michael Caine or someone) since Bond franchise star Eastwood would have been at work on Moonraker — trying hard to cash in on Star Wars’ success. Then again, would you rather have seen Eastwood in a quiet prison escape thriller or in a balls-to-thewall laser shootout on Drax’s space station?

Any Which Way You Can

There shouldn’t have been any doubt that Eastwood would need to return to his orangutan roots and shoot a follow-up to Every Which Way But Loose (coincidentally a film he might have missed out on had he played Superman). Instead of more ape-kissing hilarity, the world would have had Eastwood as Bond taking down Greek businessmen (which might be a topical new adventure for forthcoming Bonds) and mourning at his wife’s gravesite all the time. For Your Eyes Only would have kept Eastwood out of the arms of his beloved Clyde.

Sudden Impact

Just as with Clyde, Eastwood would have eventually returned to his grisly roots to play Dirty Harry again. However, this time it’s not a problem of shooting schedules. It’s unclear as to whether Eastwood would have made Sudden Impact and whether we’d have the famous “Make My Day” line to toss around when we’re pointing our finger gun at someone – because there’s only one reason the movie was made in the first place.

Warner Bros. was handing out surveys in anticipation of their release of Never Say Never Again, and one question involved naming a star and the character he plays. The biggest answer? Eastwood as Harry Callahan. Thus, the studio wanted another flick.

Would that have been the case with 5 Bond films under Eastwood’s belt? Unlikely. Therefore, it’s not a stretch to imagine that the answers to the survey would have been different, the studio would have never given a second look at Dirty Harry, and Gary Swanson would have remained the only actor to ever utter that not-at-all-famous phrase that no one would care about.

Pale Rider

Now, this is an outrage. The thought of Eastwood as Bond is an interesting one, but it’s kept too many great roles from hitting the screen and too many good movies from being made. Now, this. High Plains Drifter may be a crowd favorite, but Pale Rider is the more brilliant of the two. And what completely-worth-it amazing-beyond-belief Bond film would Eastwood have been filming instead? A View to a Kill. The movie that Roger Moore most regretted making. If the world where Eastwood becomes Bond means there’s no Pale Rider, it’s not a world I want to live in.

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