Entertainment

Clint Eastwood Was Only Paid $15K for His Breakout Western Film Role

Clint Eastwood is known as one of the most legendary filmmakers in all of Hollywood. He's won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for Million Dollar Baby and Unforgiven. He's considered one of the best directors of his generation. Beloved for his iconic cowboy roles in the TV series Rawhide and films like Dirty Harry and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, he's as synonymous with the Wild West as John Wayne. So it might be surprising to hear that despite starring on a popular television series, Eastwood really wasn't paid much in the film that would transform his career. 

The actor was initially discovered from his show by director Sergio Leone, the man credited with creating the Spaghetti Western genre in film, named after Leone's Italian roots and the theatrics that differentiate the films from a traditional John Ford western. He locked in Eastwood as his star in A Fistful of Dollars with the offer of $15,000 to play "Joe", the Man with No Name. Neither man's career would be the same again.

"Sergio was terrific for me," Eastwood told Empire magazine. "I was this young man, having done three years on Rawhide, with an Italian director who spoke no English. I thought it was insanity and that insanity was intriguing for me.

"I was a big fan of John Ford, and Sergio was too, but his approach was so different: he had no restrictions, he'd kind of go off and do what he wanted even if it was somewhat satirical. It was certainly different from me."

Read More: Scott Eastwood Auditions for His Dad Clint's Movies Like Everyone Else

To be fair, $15k sounds like a lot less than it is when you consider today's value. Today it would be around $126k, which is actually still low for a leading role in a film compared to what other actors are receiving today. Regardless, the "Dollars Trilogy" helped launch Eastwood's career and turned him into an icon. 

Eastwood is renowned for directing major films like Space Cowboys, Mystic River, Gran Torino, American Sniper, Sully, Changeling, Letters from Iwo Jima, The Bridges of Madison County, and more. Sean Penn and Tim Robbins even won Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars under his direction in Mystic River. As an actor, he's starred in countless notable roles since his film debut in Revenge of the Creature including Hang 'Em High, Every Which Way but Loose, In The Line of Fire, Any Which Way You Can, For a Few Dollars More, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Paint Your Wagon, and Where Eagles Dare. He was even the Mayor of Carmel, a small California town two hours south of San Francisco.

Clint Eastwood's Net Worth

Celebrity Net Worth estimates that after his legendary career, Clint Eastwood's net worth is roughly $375 million.

Considering he has multiple children across his relationships with Maggie Johnson, Jacelyn Reeves, Roxanne Tunis and Dina Ruiz, it's probably safe to say all of his children will be taken care of down the road. All of his kids must be incredibly proud of their father and all of his contributions to the world of entertainment. And just think, without that $15k paycheck for a little western film made by an Italian director, it might not have happened at all. 

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Clint Eastwood Was Only Paid $15K for His Breakout Western Film Role