The Italian Almanac

Clint Eastwood

He Was Cheap

Sergio Leone chose Clint Eastwood to star in his spaghetti westerns because he needed to save money, the Hollywood icon was quoted as saying. Eastwood, 79, who shot to fame in the 1960s with the Spaghetti Western genre, told Empire magazine in an interview to be published this week, that Leone wanted Rory Calhoun for the title role of A Fistful of Dollars but settled for him``because I was cheap``.

Leone urged the then 34-year-old actor - who was working on the TV series Rawhide - to bring his own wardrobe and Eastwood showed up on the set with a set of ponchos and hats. Eastwood recalled that he also brought a stock of cigars because he thought they would look good in a Western. ``I had no idea they`d taste so vile! But I brought those along with me and I gave them to props and we cut them all up. They were long cigars, called Virginia. I made a slew of them that I carried around in my pocket: different lengths to match up with different scenes.``

Eastwood`s career began in the mid-fifties but only took off when he linked up with the Italian director in a successful series of Spaghetti Westerns (`A Fistful of Dollars`, `A Few Dollars More`, and `The Good, the Bad and the Ugly`). The American actor then strode off independently, taking a wide variety of screen roles before successfully directing and producing a number of Oscar-winning films.

He has won five Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Golden Lion for career achievement.